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Genesis 31

31
1-2Jacob learned that Laban’s sons were talking behind his back: “Jacob has used our father’s wealth to make himself rich at our father’s expense.” At the same time, Jacob noticed that Laban had changed toward him. He wasn’t treating him the same.
3That’s when God said to Jacob, “Go back home where you were born. I’ll go with you.”
4-9So Jacob sent word for Rachel and Leah to meet him out in the field where his flocks were. He said, “I notice that your father has changed toward me; he doesn’t treat me the same as before. But the God of my father hasn’t changed; he’s still with me. You know how hard I’ve worked for your father. Still, your father has cheated me over and over, changing my wages time and again. But God never let him really hurt me. If he said, ‘Your wages will consist of speckled animals’ the whole flock would start having speckled lambs and kids. And if he said, ‘From now on your wages will be streaked animals’ the whole flock would have streaked ones. Over and over God used your father’s livestock to reward me.
10-11“Once, while the flocks were mating, I had a dream and saw the billy goats, all of them streaked, speckled, and mottled, mounting their mates. In the dream an angel of God called out to me, ‘Jacob!’
“I said, ‘Yes?’
12-13“He said, ‘Watch closely. Notice that all the goats in the flock that are mating are streaked, speckled, and mottled. I know what Laban’s been doing to you. I’m the God of Bethel where you consecrated a pillar and made a vow to me. Now be on your way, get out of this place, go home to your birthplace.’”
14-16Rachel and Leah said, “Has he treated us any better? Aren’t we treated worse than outsiders? All he wanted was the money he got from selling us, and he’s spent all that. Any wealth that God has seen fit to return to us from our father is justly ours and our children’s. Go ahead. Do what God told you.”
17-18Jacob did it. He put his children and his wives on camels and gathered all his livestock and everything he had gotten, everything acquired in Paddan Aram, to go back home to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19-21Laban was off shearing sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household gods. And Jacob had concealed his plans so well that Laban the Aramean had no idea what was going on—he was totally in the dark. Jacob got away with everything he had and was soon across the Euphrates headed for the hill country of Gilead.
22-24Three days later, Laban got the news: “Jacob’s run off.” Laban rounded up his relatives and chased after him. Seven days later they caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. That night God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful what you do to Jacob, whether good or bad.”
25When Laban reached him, Jacob’s tents were pitched in the Gilead mountains; Laban pitched his tents there, too.
26-30“What do you mean,” said Laban, “by keeping me in the dark and sneaking off, hauling my daughters off like prisoners of war? Why did you run off like a thief in the night? Why didn’t you tell me? Why, I would have sent you off with a great celebration—music, timbrels, flutes! But you wouldn’t permit me so much as a kiss for my daughters and grandchildren. It was a stupid thing for you to do. If I had a mind to, I could destroy you right now, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, ‘Be careful what you do to Jacob, whether good or bad.’ I understand. You left because you were homesick. But why did you steal my household gods?”
31-32Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me by brute force. But as far as your gods are concerned, if you find that anybody here has them, that person dies. With all of us watching, look around. If you find anything here that belongs to you, take it.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33-35Laban went through Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two maids but didn’t find them. He went from Leah’s tent to Rachel’s. But Rachel had taken the household gods, put them inside a camel cushion, and was sitting on them. When Laban had gone through the tent, searching high and low without finding a thing, Rachel said to her father, “Don’t think I’m being disrespectful, my master, that I can’t stand before you, but I’m having my period.” So even though he turned the place upside down in his search, he didn’t find the household gods.
36-37Now it was Jacob’s turn to get angry. He lit into Laban: “So what’s my crime, what wrong have I done you that you badger me like this? You’ve ransacked the place. Have you turned up a single thing that’s yours? Let’s see it—display the evidence. Our two families can be the jury and decide between us.
38-42“In the twenty years I’ve worked for you, ewes and she-goats never miscarried. I never feasted on the rams from your flock. I never brought you a torn carcass killed by wild animals but that I paid for it out of my own pocket—actually, you made me pay whether it was my fault or not. I was out in all kinds of weather, from torrid heat to freezing cold, putting in many a sleepless night. For twenty years I’ve done this: I slaved away fourteen years for your two daughters and another six years for your flock and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not stuck with me, you would have sent me off penniless. But God saw the fix I was in and how hard I had worked and last night rendered his verdict.”
43-44Laban defended himself: “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flock is my flock—everything you see is mine. But what can I do about my daughters or for the children they’ve had? So let’s settle things between us, make a covenant—God will be the witness between us.”
45Jacob took a stone and set it upright as a pillar.
46-47Jacob called his family around, “Get stones!” They gathered stones and heaped them up and then ate there beside the pile of stones. Laban named it in Aramaic, Yegar-sahadutha (Witness Monument); Jacob echoed the naming in Hebrew, Galeed (Witness Monument).
48-50Laban said, “This monument of stones will be a witness, beginning now, between you and me.” (That’s why it is called Galeed—Witness Monument.) It is also called Mizpah (Watchtower) because Laban said, “God keep watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives when there’s no one around to see you, God will see you and stand witness between us.”
51-53Laban continued to Jacob, “This monument of stones and this stone pillar that I have set up is a witness, a witness that I won’t cross this line to hurt you and you won’t cross this line to hurt me. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor (the God of their ancestor) will keep things straight between us.”
53-55Jacob promised, swearing by the Fear, the God of his father Isaac. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and worshiped, calling in all his family members to the meal. They ate and slept that night on the mountain. Laban got up early the next morning, kissed his grandchildren and his daughters, blessed them, and then set off for home.
31
Jacob Runs Away From Laban
1Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying. “Jacob has taken everything our father owned,” they said. “He has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2Jacob noticed that Laban’s feelings toward him had changed.
3Then the Lord spoke to Jacob. He said, “Go back to your father’s land and to your relatives. I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah. He told them to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I see that your father’s feelings toward me have changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength. 7But your father has cheated me. He has changed my pay ten times. In spite of everything that’s happened, God hasn’t let him harm me. 8Sometimes Laban would say, ‘The speckled ones will be your pay.’ Then all the flocks had little ones with speckles. At other times he would say, ‘The striped ones will be your pay.’ Then all the flocks had little ones with stripes. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
10“Once during the mating season I had a dream. In my dream I looked and saw male goats mating with the flock. The goats had stripes, speckles or spots. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look around you. See the male goats mating with the flock. All of them have stripes, speckles or spots. That’s because I have seen everything that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel. That is where you poured olive oil on a sacred stone. There you made a promise to me. Now leave this land. Go back to your own land.’ ”
14Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share of our father’s property? 15Doesn’t our father think of us as outsiders? First he sold us. Now he has used up what he was paid for us. 16All the wealth God took away from our father really belongs to us and our children. So do what God has told you to do.”
17Then Jacob put his children and wives on camels. 18He drove all his livestock ahead of him. He also took with him everything he had acquired in Paddan Aram. He left to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19Laban had gone to clip the wool from his sheep. While he was gone, Rachel stole the statues of the family gods that belonged to her father. 20And that’s not all. Jacob tricked Laban, the Aramean. He didn’t tell him he was running away. 21So Jacob ran off with everything he had. He crossed the Euphrates River. And he headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Chases Jacob
22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had run away. 23He took his relatives with him and went after Jacob. Seven days later he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24Then God came to Laban, the Aramean, in a dream at night. He said to him, “Be careful. Do not say anything to Jacob, whether it is good or bad.”
25Jacob had set up his tent in the hill country of Gilead. That’s where Laban caught up with him. Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have tricked me. You have taken my daughters away like prisoners of war. 27Why did you run away in secret and trick me? Why didn’t you tell me? Then I could have sent you away happily. We could have sung to the music of tambourines and harps. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29I have the power to harm you. But last night the God of your father spoke to me. He said, ‘Be careful. Do not say anything to Jacob, whether it is good or bad.’ 30Now you have run away. You longed to go back to your father’s home. But why did you have to steal the statues of my gods?”
31Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32But if you find anyone who has the statues of your gods, that person will not remain alive. While our relatives are watching, look for yourself. See if there’s anything of yours here with me. If you find anything belonging to you, take it.” But Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the statues.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and Leah’s tent. He went into the tent of their two female servants. But he didn’t find anything. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34Rachel was the one who had taken the statues of Laban’s family gods. She had put them inside her camel’s saddle. She was sitting on them. Laban searched the whole tent. But he didn’t find anything.
35Rachel said to her father, “I’m sorry, sir. I can’t get up for you right now. But don’t be angry with me. I’m having my monthly period.” So he searched everywhere but couldn’t find the statues of his gods.
36Jacob was very angry with Laban. “What is my crime?” he asked. “What have I done to you that you hunt me down like this? 37You have searched through all my things. What have you found that belongs to your family? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine. Let them decide between the two of us.
38“I’ve been with you for 20 years now. The little ones of your sheep and goats were not dead when they were born. I haven’t eaten rams from your flocks. 39I didn’t bring you animals torn apart by wild beasts. I made up for the loss myself. Also, you made me pay for anything stolen by day or night. 40And what was my life like? The heat burned me in the daytime. And it was so cold at night that I froze. I couldn’t sleep. 41That’s what it was like for the 20 years I was living with you. I worked for 14 years to marry your two daughters. I worked for six years to get my share of your flocks. You changed my pay ten times. 42But the God of my father was with me. He is the God of Abraham and the God Isaac worshiped. If he hadn’t been with me, you would surely have sent me away without anything to show for all my work. But God has seen my hard times. He has seen all the work my hands have done. So last night he warned you.”
43Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters. The children are my children. The flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine? What can I do about the children they’ve had? 44Come now. Let’s make a formal agreement, you and I. Let it be a witness between us.”
45So Jacob set up a stone as a way to remember. 46He said to his relatives, “Get some stones.” So they took stones and put them in a pile. And they ate there by it. 47Laban named the pile of stones Jegar Sahadutha. Jacob named it Galeed.
48Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness between you and me today.” That’s why it was named Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah. That’s because Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50Don’t treat my daughters badly. Don’t get married to any women besides my daughters. There isn’t anyone here to see what we’re doing. But remember that God is a witness between you and me.”
51Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this pile of stones. And here is this stone I’ve set up. I’ve set them up between you and me. 52This pile is a witness. And this stone is a witness. They are witnesses that I won’t go past this pile to harm you. And they are witnesses that you won’t go past this pile and this stone to harm me. 53The God of Abraham and Nahor is also the God of their father. May their God decide which of us is right.”
So Jacob made a promise using the name of the God his father Isaac worshiped. 54He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country. And he invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.
55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters. He gave them his blessing. Then he left and returned home.