Jacob Separates from Laban
1Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same as before.
3The Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your family, and I will be with you.”#Gn 28:15; 32:10
4Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I can see from your father’s face that his attitude toward me is not the same as before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that with all my strength I have served your father#Gn 30:29 7and that he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not let him harm me. 8If he said, ‘The spotted sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born spotted. If he said, ‘The streaked sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born streaked.#Gn 30:32 9God has taken away your father’s herds and given them to me.
10“When the flocks were breeding, I saw in a dream that the streaked, spotted, and speckled males were mating with the females. 11In that dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.#Gn 30:37–40; Ex 3:7 13I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to me.#Gn 28:18–19 Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.’”
14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Do we have any portion or inheritance in our father’s family? 15Are we not regarded by him as outsiders? For he has sold us#Gn 29:19–30 and has certainly spent our purchase price. 16In fact, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever God has said to you.”
17So Jacob got up and put his children and wives on the camels. 18He took all the livestock and possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram, and he drove his herds to go to the land of Canaan, to his father Isaac. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols.#Jdg 17:5; 1Sm 15:23; 19:13; Ezk 21:21; Hs 3:4; Zch 10:2 20And Jacob deceived#31:20 Lit And he stole the heart of Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing. 21He fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for#31:21 Lit and set his face to the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Overtakes Jacob
22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him, pursued Jacob for seven days, and overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night. “Watch yourself!” God warned him. “Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”#Gn 24:50; 31:29; 2Sm 13:22
25When Laban overtook Jacob, Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban and his relatives also pitched their tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken my daughters away like prisoners of war! 27Why did you secretly flee from me, deceive me, and not tell me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and lyres, 28but you didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly. 29I could do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Watch yourself! Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you long for your father’s family — but why have you stolen my gods?” #Gn 31:19; Jos 24:2; Jdg 18:24
31Jacob answered, “I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find your gods with anyone here, he will not live!#Gn 44:9 Before our relatives, point out anything that is yours and take it.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two concubines,#31:33 Lit servants but he found nothing. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken Laban’s household idols, put them in the saddlebag of the camel, and sat on them. Laban searched the whole tent but found nothing.
35She said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence;#Lv 19:32 I am having my period.” So Laban searched, but could not find the household idols.
Jacob’s Covenant with Laban
36Then Jacob became incensed and brought charges against Laban. “What is my crime?” he said to Laban. “What is my sin, that you have pursued me? 37You’ve searched all my possessions! Have you found anything of yours?#31:37 Lit What have you found from all of the possessions of your house? Put it here before my relatives and yours, and let them decide between the two of us. 38I’ve been with you these twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams from your flock. 39I did not bring you any of the flock torn by wild beasts; I myself bore the loss. You demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or by night. 40There I was — the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41For twenty years in your household I served you — fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks#Gn 29:27,30 — and you have changed my wages ten times! 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and my hard work,#31:42 Lit and the work of my hands and he issued his verdict last night.”
43Then Laban answered Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters; the children, my children; and the flocks, my flocks! Everything you see is mine! But what can I do today for these daughters of mine or for the children they have borne? 44Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I.#Gn 21:27,32; 26:28 Let it be a witness between the two of us.”
45So Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a marker.#Jos 24:26–27 46Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound, then ate there by the mound. 47Laban named the mound Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Galeed.#31:47 Jegar-sahadutha is Aramaic, and Galeed is Hb; both names = Mound of Witness
48Then Laban said, “This mound is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore the place was called Galeed 49and also Mizpah,#31:49 = Watchtower#Jdg 11:29; 1Sm 7:5–6 for he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, though no one is with us, understand that God will be a witness between you and me.”#Jdg 11:10; 1Sm 12:5; Jb 16:19; Jr 42:5; Mc 1:2 51Laban also said to Jacob, “Look at this mound and the marker I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness and the marker is a witness that I will not pass beyond this mound to you, and you will not pass beyond this mound and this marker to do me harm. 53The God of Abraham, and the gods#Jos 24:2 of Nahor — the gods of their father#31:53 Two Hb mss, LXX omit the gods of their father — will judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat a meal. So they ate a meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, and blessed them. Then Laban left to return home.