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Genesis 31

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.
31
Jacob Runs Away
1One day Jacob heard Laban’s sons talking. They said, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned, and in this way he has become rich.” 2Then Jacob noticed that Laban was not as friendly as he had been before. 3The Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land where your ancestors lived, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob told Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where he kept his flocks. 5He said to them, “I have seen that your father is not as friendly with me as he used to be, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You both know that I have worked as hard as I could for your father, 7but he cheated me and changed my pay ten times. But God has not allowed your father to harm me. 8When Laban said, ‘You can have all the speckled animals as your pay,’ all the animals gave birth to speckled young ones. But when he said, ‘You can have all the streaked animals as your pay,’ all the flocks gave birth to streaked babies. 9So God has taken the animals away from your father and has given them to me.
10“I had a dream during the season when the flocks were mating. I saw that the only male goats who were mating were streaked, speckled, or spotted. 11The angel of God spoke to me in that dream and said, ‘Jacob!’ I answered, ‘Yes!’ 12The angel said, ‘Look! Only the streaked, speckled, or spotted male goats are mating. I have seen all the wrong things Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, where you poured olive oil on the stone you set up on end and where you made a promise to me. Now I want you to leave here and go back to the land where you were born.’ ”
14Rachel and Leah answered Jacob, “Our father has nothing to give us when he dies. 15He has treated us like strangers. He sold us to you, and then he spent all of the money you paid for us. 16God took all this wealth from our father, and now it belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you to do.”
17So Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18and they began their journey back to Isaac, his father, in the land of Canaan. All the flocks of animals that Jacob owned walked ahead of them. He carried everything with him that he had gotten while he lived in Northwest Mesopotamia.
19While Laban was gone to cut the wool from his sheep, Rachel stole the idols that belonged to him. 20And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was leaving. 21Jacob and his family left quickly, crossed the Euphrates River, and traveled toward the mountains of Gilead.
22Three days later Laban learned that Jacob had run away, 23so he gathered his relatives and began to chase him. After seven days Laban found him in the mountains of Gilead. 24That night God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful! Do not say anything to Jacob, good or bad.”
The Search for the Stolen Idols
25So Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had made his camp in the mountains, so Laban and his relatives set up their camp in the mountains of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You cheated me and took my daughters as if you had captured them in a war. 27Why did you run away secretly and trick me? Why didn’t you tell me? Then I could have sent you away with joy and singing and with the music of tambourines and harps. 28You did not even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-bye. You were very foolish to do this! 29I have the power to harm you, but last night the God of your father spoke to me and warned me not to say anything to you, good or bad. 30I know you want to go back to your home, but why did you steal my idols?”
31Jacob answered Laban, “I left without telling you, because I was afraid you would take your daughters away from me. 32If you find anyone here who has taken your idols, that person will be killed! Your relatives will be my witnesses. You may look for anything that belongs to you and take anything that is yours.” (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen Laban’s idols.)
33So Laban looked in Jacob’s tent, in Leah’s tent, and in the tent where the two slave women stayed, but he did not find his idols. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34Rachel had hidden the idols inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Although Laban looked through the whole tent, he did not find them.
35Rachel said to her father, “Father, don’t be angry with me. I am not able to stand up before you because I am having my monthly period.” So Laban looked through the camp, but he did not find his idols.
36Then Jacob became very angry and said, “What wrong have I done? What law have I broken to cause you to chase me? 37You have looked through everything I own, but you have found nothing that belongs to you. If you have found anything, show it to everyone. Put it in front of your relatives and my relatives, and let them decide which one of us is right. 38I have worked for you now for twenty years. During all that time none of the lambs and kids died during birth, and I have not eaten any of the male sheep from your flocks. 39Any time an animal was killed by wild beasts, I did not bring it to you, but made up for the loss myself. You made me pay for any animal that was stolen during the day or night. 40In the daytime the sun took away my strength, and at night I was cold and could not sleep. 41I worked like a slave for you for twenty years—the first fourteen to get your two daughters and the last six to earn your flocks. During that time you changed my pay ten times. 42But the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, was with me. Otherwise, you would have sent me away with nothing. But he saw the trouble I had and the hard work I did, and last night he corrected you.”
Jacob and Laban’s Agreement
43Laban said to Jacob, “These girls are my daughters. Their children belong to me, and these flocks are mine. Everything you see here belongs to me, but I can do nothing to keep my daughters and their children. 44Let us make an agreement, and let us set up a pile of stones to remind us of it.”
45So Jacob took a large rock and set it up on its end. 46He told his relatives to gather rocks, so they took the rocks and piled them up; then they ate beside the pile. 47Laban named that place in his language A Pile to Remind Us, and Jacob gave the place the same name in Hebrew.
48Laban said to Jacob, “This pile of rocks will remind us of the agreement between us.” That is why the place was called A Pile to Remind Us. 49It was also called Mizpah, because Laban said, “Let the Lord watch over us while we are separated from each other. 50Remember that God is our witness even if no one else is around us. He will know if you harm my daughters or marry other women. 51Here is the pile of rocks that I have put between us and here is the rock I set up on end. 52This pile of rocks and this rock set on end will remind us of our agreement. I will never go past this pile to hurt you, and you must never come to my side of them to hurt me. 53Let the God of Abraham, who is the God of Nahor and the God of their ancestors, punish either of us if we break this agreement.”
So Jacob made a promise in the name of the God whom his father Isaac worshiped. 54Then Jacob killed an animal and offered it as a sacrifice on the mountain, and he invited his relatives to share in the meal. After they finished eating, they spent the night on the mountain. 55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them, and then he left to return home.