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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.

Genesis 31

31
Jacob Leaves Secretly for Canaan
1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken away everything that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has acquired all this wealth and honor.” 2Jacob noticed [a change in] the #Lit face.attitude of Laban, and saw that it was not friendly toward him as before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your people, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, 5and he said to them, “I see [a change in] your father’s attitude, that he is not friendly toward me as [he was] before; but the God of my father [Isaac] has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7Yet your father has cheated me [as often as possible] and changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled [young]; and if he said, ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked [young]. 9Thus God has taken away the flocks of your father and given them to me. 10And it happened at the time when the flock conceived that I looked up and saw in a dream that the rams which mated [with the female goats] were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11And the #See note 16:7. Note especially Gen 31:13, where the Angel says, “I am the God of Bethel.”Angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look up and see, all the rams which are mating [with the flock] are streaked, speckled, and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you made a vow to Me; now stand up, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’ ” 14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15Are we not counted by him as foreigners? For he sold us [to you in marriage], and has also entirely used up our purchase price. 16Surely all the riches which God has taken from our father are ours and our children’s. Now then, whatever God has told you to do, do it.”
17Then Jacob stood [and took action] and put his children and his wives on camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock and [took along] all his property which he had acquired, the livestock he had obtained and accumulated in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel [went inside the house and] stole her father’s #Possession of these pagan figurines implied or conferred a right of inheritance.household gods. 20And Jacob #Lit stole the heart of.deceived Laban the Aramean (Syrian) by not telling him that he intended to leave and he slipped away secretly. 21So he fled with everything that he had, and got up and crossed the river [Euphrates], and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead [east of the Jordan River].
Laban Pursues Jacob
22On the third day [after his departure] Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him and pursued him for seven days, and they overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent on the hill, and Laban with his relatives camped on the same hill of Gilead. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What do you mean by deceiving me and leaving without my knowledge, and carrying off my daughters as if [they were] captives of the sword? 27Why did you run away secretly and deceive me and not tell me, so that [otherwise] I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with [music on the] tambourine and lyre? 28And why did you not allow me to kiss my #Lit sons.grandchildren and my daughters [goodbye]? Now you have done a foolish thing [in behaving like this]. 29It is in my power to harm you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now [I suppose] you felt you must go because you #Lit longed greatly.were homesick for your father’s house and family; but why did you steal my [household] #Laban was upset because possession of the father’s household gods played an important role in inheritance. In the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family gods could appear before a judge and make a claim to the estate of his father-in-law. Since Jacob’s possession of the household gods implied the right to inherit Laban’s wealth, one can understand why he followed Jacob to recover the idols.gods?” 31Jacob answered Laban, “[I left secretly] because I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our relatives [search my possessions and] point out whatever you find that belongs to you and take it.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he came out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban searched through all her tent, but did not find them. 35So Rachel said to her father, “Do not be displeased, my lord, that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is on me and I am unwell.” He searched [further] but did not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. And he said to Laban, “What is my fault? What is my sin that you pursued me like this? 37Although you have searched through all my possessions, what have you found of your household goods? Put it here before my relatives and your relatives, so that they may decide [who has done right] between the two of us. 38These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not lost their young, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39I did not bring you the torn carcasses [of the animals attacked by predators]; I [personally] took the loss. You required of me [to make good] everything that was stolen, whether it occurred by day or night. 40This was my situation: by day the heat consumed me and by night the cold, and #Lit sleep fled from my eyes.I could not sleep. 41These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for [my share of] your flocks, and you have #I.e. cheated me as often as possible.changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and [the Feared One] of Isaac, had not been with me, most certainly you would have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the [exhausting] labor of my hands, so He rendered judgment and rebuked you last night.”
The Covenant of Mizpah
43Laban answered Jacob, “These #Lit daughters.women [that you married] are my daughters, these children are my #Lit children.grandchildren, these flocks are [from] my flocks, and all that you see [here] is mine. But what can I do today to these my daughters or to their children to whom they have given birth? 44So come now, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between you and me.” 45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a [memorial] pillar. 46Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound [of stones], and they ate [a ceremonial meal together] there on the mound [of stones]. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha (stone monument of testimony in #The language of Laban, who was an Aramean (v 20). The two names chosen by Laban and Jacob were equivalent.Aramaic), but Jacob called it #Heb heap of witness.Galeed. 48Laban said, “This mound [of stones] is a witness [a reminder of the oath taken] today between you and me.” Therefore he [also] called the name Galeed, 49and Mizpah (#The stone mound evidently was tall enough to be considered a place from which one could see at a distance. The thought behind it was that the Lord would watch them when they could not watch each other, and He would see and deal with any mistreatment committed by either of them (see v 50).watchtower), for Laban said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent from one another. 50If you should mistreat (humiliate, oppress) my daughters, or if you should take other wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us [as a witness], see and remember, God is witness between you and me.” 51Laban said to Jacob, “Look at this mound [of stones] and look at this pillar which I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this mound to harm you, and that you will not pass by this mound and this pillar to harm me. 53The God of Abraham [your father] and the God of Nahor [my father], and the #Here “god” is put in lowercase because Joshua later declared that Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, was an idolater, serving “other gods” (Josh 24:2). The wording of the Hebrew here indicates that Laban equated the God of Abraham and Nahor with the god of Terah. Whether Laban actually made no distinction in his mind between the true God and false gods, or simply committed an oversight, is not clear. Jacob evidently recognized the ambiguity in Laban’s statement as well, so to avoid any possibility of swearing allegiance to a false god, he swore his own oath by the God of Isaac.god [the image of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolater], judge between us.” But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice [to the Lord] on the mountain, and called his relatives to the meal; and they ate food and spent the night on the mountain. 55Early in the morning Laban got up and kissed his #Lit sons.grandchildren and his daughters [goodbye] and pronounced a blessing [asking God’s favor] on them. Then Laban left and returned home.