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Genesis 31

31
Jacob Flees from Laban
1Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father. He got all his wealth from what our father owned.” 2He also saw that Laban was no longer as friendly as he had been earlier. 3Then the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I have noticed that your father is not as friendly toward me as he used to be; but my father's God has been with me. 6You both know that I have worked for your father with all my strength. 7Yet he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not let him harm me. 8Whenever Laban said, ‘The speckled goats shall be your wages,’ all the flocks produced speckled young. When he said, ‘The striped goats shall be your wages,’ all the flocks produced striped young. 9God has taken flocks away from your father and given them to me.
10“During the breeding season I had a dream, and I saw that the male goats that were mating were striped, spotted, and speckled. 11The angel of God spoke to me in the dream and said, ‘Jacob!’ ‘Yes,’ I answered. 12‘Look,’ he continued, ‘all the male goats that are mating are striped, spotted, and speckled. I am making this happen because I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13#Gn 28.18-22 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, where you dedicated a stone as a memorial by pouring olive oil on it and where you made a vow to me. Now get ready and go back to the land where you were born.’”
14Rachel and Leah answered Jacob, “There is nothing left for us to inherit from our father. 15He treats us like foreigners. He sold us, and now he has spent all the money he was paid for us. 16All this wealth which God has taken from our father belongs to us and to our children. Do whatever God has told you.”
17-18So Jacob got ready to go back to his father in the land of Canaan. He put his children and his wives on the camels, and drove all his flocks ahead of him, with everything that he had gotten in Mesopotamia. 19Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and during his absence Rachel stole the household gods that belonged to her father. 20Jacob deceived Laban by not letting him know that he was leaving. 21He took everything he owned and left in a hurry. He crossed the Euphrates River and started for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22Three days later Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23He took his men with him and pursued Jacob for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24In a dream that night God came to Laban and said to him, “Be careful not to threaten Jacob in any way.” 25Jacob had set up his camp on a mountain, and Laban set up his camp with his relatives in the hill country of Gilead.
26Laban said to Jacob, “Why did you deceive me and carry off my daughters like women captured in war? 27Why did you deceive me and slip away without telling me? If you had told me, I would have sent you on your way with rejoicing and singing to the music of tambourines and harps. 28You did not even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-bye. That was a foolish thing to do! 29I have the power to do you harm, but last night the God of your father warned me not to threaten you in any way. 30I know that you left because you were so anxious to get back home, but why did you steal my household gods?”
31Jacob answered, “I was afraid, because I thought that you might take your daughters away from me. 32But if you find that anyone here has your gods, he will be put to death. Here, with our men as witnesses, look for anything that belongs to you and take what is yours.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen Laban's gods.
33Laban went and searched Jacob's tent; then he went into Leah's tent, and the tent of the two slave women, but he did not find his gods. Then he went into Rachel's tent. 34Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in a camel's saddlebag and was sitting on them. Laban searched through the whole tent, but did not find them. 35Rachel said to her father, “Do not be angry with me, sir, but I am not able to stand up in your presence; I am having my monthly period.” Laban searched but did not find his household gods.
36Then Jacob lost his temper. “What crime have I committed?” he asked angrily. “What law have I broken that gives you the right to hunt me down? 37Now that you have searched through all my belongings, what household article have you found that belongs to you? Put it out here where your men and mine can see it, and let them decide which one of us is right. 38I have been with you now for twenty years; your sheep and your goats have not failed to reproduce, and I have not eaten any rams from your flocks. 39Whenever a sheep was killed by wild animals, I always bore the loss myself. I didn't take it to you to show that it was not my fault. You demanded that I make good anything that was stolen during the day or during the night. 40Many times I suffered from the heat during the day and from the cold at night. I was not able to sleep. 41It was like that for the whole twenty years I was with you. For fourteen years I worked to win your two daughters—and six years for your flocks. And even then, you changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac, had not been with me, you would have already sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my trouble and the work I have done, and last night he gave his judgment.”
The Agreement between Jacob and Laban
43Laban answered Jacob, “These young women are my daughters; their children belong to me, and these flocks are mine. In fact, everything you see here belongs to me. But since I can do nothing to keep my daughters and their children, 44I am ready to make an agreement with you. Let us make a pile of stones to remind us of our agreement.”
45So Jacob got a stone and set it up as a memorial. 46He told his men to gather some rocks and pile them up. Then they ate a meal beside the pile of rocks. 47Laban named it Jegar Sahadutha,#31.47: Jegar Sahadutha: This name in Aramaic means “a pile to remind us.” while Jacob named it Galeed.#31.47: Galeed: This name in Hebrew means “a pile to remind us.” 48Laban said to Jacob, “This pile of rocks will be a reminder for both of us.” That is why that place was named Galeed. 49Laban also said, “May the Lord keep an eye on us while we are separated from each other.” So the place was also named Mizpah.#31.49: Mizpah: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “place from which to watch.” 50Laban went on, “If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other women, even though I don't know about it, remember that God is watching us. 51Here are the rocks that I have piled up between us, and here is the memorial stone. 52Both this pile and this memorial stone are reminders. I will never go beyond this pile to attack you, and you must never go beyond it or beyond this memorial stone to attack me. 53The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor#31.53: Abraham … Nahor: Abraham was Jacob's grandfather and Nahor was Laban's grandfather. will judge between us.” Then, in the name of the God whom his father Isaac worshiped, Jacob solemnly vowed to keep this promise. 54He killed an animal, which he offered as a sacrifice on the mountain, and he invited his men to the meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain. 55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters good-bye, and left to go back home.
31
Jacob’s Second and Third Encounters with God
1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father and has gained all his wealth from him.” 2He also noticed that Laban did not appear as friendly to him as before.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent a message to Rachel and Leah to come out to the open country where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I have seen that your father isn’t as friendly to me as he was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have worked as hard as I could for your father. 7Your father has cheated me. He has changed my wages 10 times. But God hasn’t let him harm me. 8Whenever he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ all the flocks gave birth to speckled young. And whenever he said, ‘The striped ones will be your wages,’ all the flocks gave birth to striped young. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.
10“During the mating season I had a dream: I looked up and saw that the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, or spotted. 11In the dream the Messenger of God called to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I answered, ‘Yes, here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, or spotted, because I have seen everything that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel,#31:13 Greek; Masoretic Text “the God at Bethel.” where you poured olive oil on a stone marker for a holy purpose and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land, and go back to the land of your relatives.’ ”
14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there anything left in our father’s household for us to inherit? 15Doesn’t he think of us as foreigners? Not only did he sell us, but he has used up the money that was paid for us. 16Certainly, all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. Now do whatever God has told you.”
Laban and Jacob Make Peace
17Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels. 18He drove all his livestock ahead of him and took all the possessions that he had accumulated. He took his own livestock that he had accumulated in Paddan Aram and went back to his father Isaac in Canaan.
19When Laban went to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s idols. 20Jacob also tricked Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was leaving. 21So he left in a hurry with all that belonged to him. He crossed the Euphrates River and went toward the mountains of Gilead.
22Two days later Laban was told that Jacob had left in a hurry. 23He and his relatives pursued Jacob for seven days. Laban caught up with him in the mountains of Gilead.
24God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything at all to Jacob.”
25When Laban finally caught up with Jacob, Jacob had put up his tents in the mountains. So Laban and his relatives put up their tents in the mountains of Gilead. 26Then Laban asked Jacob, “What have you done by tricking me? You’ve carried off my daughters like prisoners of war. 27Why did you leave secretly and trick me? You didn’t even tell me you were leaving. I would have sent you on your way rejoicing, with songs accompanied by tambourines and lyres. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You’ve done a foolish thing. 29I have the power to harm you. Last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything at all to Jacob.’ 30Now you have left for your father’s home because you were so homesick. But why did you steal my gods?”
31Jacob answered Laban, “I left because I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32If you find your gods, the one who has them will not be allowed to live. In the presence of our relatives, search as much as you want through what I have, and take what is yours.” (Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the gods.)
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two slaves. But he found nothing. He came out of Leah’s tent and went into Rachel’s tent. 34Rachel had taken the idols and had put them in her camel’s saddle-bag and was sitting on them. Laban rummaged through the whole tent but found nothing.
35Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, Father, but I can’t get up to greet you; I’m having my period.” So even though Laban had made a thorough search, he didn’t find the idols.
36Then Jacob became angry and confronted Laban. “What is my crime?” Jacob demanded of Laban. “What is my offense that you have come chasing after me? 37Now that you’ve rummaged through all my things, did you find anything from your house? Put it here in front of all our relatives. Let them decide which one of us is right.
38“I’ve been with you for 20 years. Your sheep and goats never miscarried, and I never ate any rams from your flocks. 39I never brought you any of the flock that was killed by wild animals. I paid for the loss myself. That’s what you demanded of me when any of the flock was stolen during the day or at night. 40The scorching heat during the day and the cold at night wore me down, and I lost a lot of sleep. 41I’ve been with your household 20 years now. I worked for you 14 years for your two daughters and 6 years for your flocks, and you changed my wages 10 times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac,#31:42 Or “Protection of Isaac.” had not been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed by now. God has seen my misery and hard work, and last night he made it right.”
43Then Laban answered Jacob, “These are my daughters, my grandchildren, and my flocks. Everything you see is mine! Yet, what can I do today for my daughters or for their children? 44Now, let’s make an agreement and let it stand as a witness between you and me.”
45Jacob took a stone and set it up as a marker. 46Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” They took stones, put them into a pile, and ate there by the pile of stones. 47⌞In his language⌟ Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha [Witness Pile], but Jacob called it Galeed.#31:47 Galeed is the Hebrew equivalent of the Aramaic words Jegar Sahadutha.
48Laban said, “This pile of stones stands as a witness between you and me today.” This is why it was named Galeed 49and also Mizpah [Watchtower], because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we’re unable to see each other. 50If you mistreat my daughters or marry other women behind my back, remember that God stands as a witness between you and me.”
51Laban said to Jacob, “Here is the pile of stones, and here is the marker that I have set up between you and me. 52This pile of stones and this marker stand as witnesses that I will not go past the pile of stones to harm you, and that you will not go past the pile of stones or marker to harm me. 53May the God of Abraham and Nahor—the God of their father—judge between us.”
So Jacob swore this oath by the Fear of his father Isaac 54and offered a sacrifice on the mountain. He invited his relatives to eat the meal with him. They ate with him and spent the night on the mountain.#31:54 Genesis 31:55 in English Bibles is Genesis 32:1 in the Hebrew Bible.
55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban left and went back home.