1¶ And he heard the words of the sons of Laban, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s, he has gotten all this glory.
2And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
3Also the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
4And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his sheep
5and said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me.
6And ye know that with all my strength I have served your father.
7And your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.
8If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the sheep bore speckled; and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then all the sheep bore ringstraked.
9Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
10And it came to pass at the time that the sheep conceived, that I lifted up my eyes and saw in dreams, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the females were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.
11And the angel of God spoke unto me in dreams, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
12And he said, Lift up now thine eyes and see, all the rams which leap upon the sheep are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled; for I have seen all that Laban has done unto thee.
13I am the God of Bethel, where thou didst anoint the pillar and where thou didst vow a vow unto me. Now arise, go out from this land and return unto the land of thy nature.
14And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?
15Are we not counted of him strangers? For he has sold us and has even devoured all our price.
16For all the riches which God has taken from our father, is ours and our son’s; now then, whatever God has said unto thee, do.
17¶ Then Jacob rose up and set his sons and his wives upon the camels;
18and he carried away all his livestock and all his goods which he had gotten, the livestock of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, to return unto Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
19And Laban had gone to shear his sheep; and Rachel stole the idols of her father.
20And Jacob stole away the heart of Laban the Aramean, in that he did not tell him that he fled.
21So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up and passed the river and set his face toward Mount Gilead.
22And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled.
23Then he took his brethren with him and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in Mount Gilead.
24And God came to Laban the Aramean in dreams by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
25¶ Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount; and Laban with his brethren pitched in Mount Gilead.
26And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away my heart and carried away my daughters as captives taken with the sword?
27Why didst thou flee away secretly and steal away from me and didst not tell me that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs with tambourine and with harp?
28And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.
29It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt, but the God of your father spoke unto me last night, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
30And now, that thou art leaving, because thy desire is after thy father’s house, yet why hast thou stolen my gods?
31And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid; for I said, Peradventure thou would take by force thy daughters from me.
32With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let them not live; before our brethren discern what is thine with me and take it to thee. For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
33And Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and came to Rachel’s tent.
34Now Rachel took the images and put them in a camel’s saddle and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent but did not find them.
35And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but did not find the images.
36¶ Then Jacob was wroth and contended with Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? What is my sin that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?
37Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? Set it here before my brethren and thy brethren that they may judge between us both.
38These twenty years I have been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not aborted their young, and I have not eaten the rams of thy flock.
39That which was torn of beasts I did not bring unto thee; I bore the sin; thou didst require of my hand that which was stolen, whether by day or by night.
40By day the drought consumed me, and by night, the frost; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.
41Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters and six years for thy flock; and thou hast changed my wages ten times.
42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, were not with me, surely thou would send me away now empty. God has seen my affliction and the work of my hands and rebuked thee last night.
43¶ And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these sons are my sons, and these sheep are my sheep, and all that thou seest is mine; and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their sons unto whom they have given birth?
44Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou, and let it be for a witness between me and thee.
45Then Jacob took a stone and set it up for a pillar.
46And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones and made a heap; and they ate there upon the heap.
47And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.
48And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;
49and Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another.
50If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us; see, God is witness between me and thee.
51And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have raised up between me and thee;
52 let this heap be witness and this pillar be witness that I will not pass over this heap against thee and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar against me, for harm.
53The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their fathers, judge between us. And Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac.
54Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount and called his brethren to eat bread; and they ate bread and slept in the mount.
55And early in the morning Laban rose up and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them; and Laban departed and returned unto his place.
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Jacob Escapes from Laban
1Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were complaining, “Everything Jacob owns he has taken from our father! He gained all his wealth from what our father owned.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban no longer viewed him favorably as he once did. 3Then Yahweh said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors where you were born; and remember, I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent a message for Leah and Rachel to meet him in the field where his flocks were grazing. 5When they arrived, he said to them, “I can see that your father’s attitude toward me has changed, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You both know I have worked for your father as hard as I could, 7although he has cheated me and reduced # 31:7 Or “changed.” The implication is that Laban did not give him raises, but reduced his salary literally in the Hebrew “ten times” (a term not meant to define how many times, but a figure of speech for “many, many times”). my wages over and over. Yet God has not allowed him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled. If he said, ‘The striped ones will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9Because of these miracles, God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me!”
10Jacob continued, “Once during the breeding season, I had a dream. I saw that the male goats who were mating were all speckled, streaked, or spotted. 11In the dream, the angel of God called me by my name, ‘Jacob.’ ”
“ ‘I am here,’ I answered.
12“Then he said, ‘Observe and note that all the male goats that are mating are speckled, streaked, or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, # 31:13 As translated from the Septuagint and ancient Targums. The Hebrew is “I am the God of Bethel.” where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and return to the land of your birth.’ ”
14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Our father doesn’t want us to inherit a portion from his estate. 15Hasn’t he treated us as outsiders and not as members of his family? Not only did he sell us like property, but he has also spent our purchase price! 16Our father’s wealth that God has given you was legally ours and our children to begin with! So, go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
17Jacob immediately put his wives and children on camels 18and took with him all the livestock and everything he had amassed in Paddan-Aram. He set out to return to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19One day, when Laban had gone to his fields to shear his sheep, # 31:19 Sheep shearing was done in the spring, and it was a time of celebration and festivities that could have lasted a week (see 1 Sam. 25:2, 8, 11; 2 Sam. 13:23). Laban was preoccupied with the festivities and didn’t realize that his household gods had been stolen and that Jacob was secretly taking off with his daughters. Rachel stole her father’s household idols. # 31:19 This is the Hebrew word teraphim; they can be described as small, carved figurines passed down within the family or clan. Teraphim is taken from an Aramaic root word meaning “to inquire.” Apparently, Laban used these images for guidance by divination. Rachel’s taking her father’s gods meant she took his ability to discover where they had gone (see Judg. 17:5; 1 Sam. 19:13; Ezek. 21:21). Other scholars believe that the teraphim guaranteed the right of inheritance to whoever possessed them. According to ancient Akkadian writings, the possession of these family idols (gods) could verify legal title to the family estate. This was perhaps the reason for Laban’s angry accusation of Jacob (v. 30). 20Jacob had outwitted Laban the Aramean by secretly departing without telling him. 21He fled with all that he had, and after crossing the Euphrates, # 31:21 The Euphrates was known to the Hebrews simply as “the River.” It was about fifty miles from Laban’s home to the Euphrates. he headed for the hill country of Gilead. 22And it wasn’t until three days later that Laban discovered Jacob had left.
Laban Pursues Jacob
23Laban, along with some of his relatives, took off in pursuit and chased after Jacob for seven days. He had almost caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead, 24when God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and warned him, “Be careful that you neither harm nor threaten Jacob.” # 31:24 Or “that you speak not to Jacob a word either good or evil.” This is a merism, for God was not telling Laban to remain silent, but rather to neither harm nor threaten Jacob with his words.
25Now Jacob had set up his camp with his flocks on a hill, and Laban had him in his sights. Laban and his companions set up their camp nearby. 26Laban approached Jacob and said, “Nephew, what have you done? You’ve deceived me and carried away my daughters like captives on a battlefield. 27Why did you trick me and run away in secret without telling me? I would have sent you off joyously, celebrating with singing and dancing to the tambourine and stringed instruments. 28And why did you not even let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren goodbye? What you have done is foolish! 29I could harm you, but the God of your father spoke to me in a dream last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you neither harm nor threaten Jacob.’ 30Now I realize you ran away because you desperately long to return to your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”
31“I left in a hurry because I was afraid,” Jacob answered, “and I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death! So here, in the presence of our relatives, if you can find among our possessions anything that is yours, take it.” Now Jacob had no clue that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33Laban went immediately into Jacob’s tent to search. Then he went into the tents of Zilpah and Bilhah but found nothing. After searching Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s. 34Now Rachel had taken the family gods and put them in her camel’s cushion and sat on them. 35She said to her father, “Please my father, # 31:35 Or “my lord.” don’t be angry if I don’t rise before you, for I’m having my period.” When he rummaged through her tent, he did not find them.
36Then Jacob became angry and complained to Laban, “What have I done wrong? What sin have I committed that you would hotly pursue me as if you were chasing a criminal? 37You have rummaged through all my things, and did you find anything of your own property? If you did, set them here in front of your relatives and mine. Let them decide between the two of us.”
38Jacob continued, “For the last twenty years I have served you, and the whole time your sheep and goats did not miscarry, nor did I feast on any of your rams. 39If one from your flock was mauled by a wild beast, I didn’t bring it to you; I absorbed the loss myself. And you always made me pay for any missing animal, whether snatched by day or by night. 40Many times, scorching heat consumed me by day and hard frost by night; I endured sleepless nights. 41For these twenty years that I’ve lived among you, I slaved away fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks. And besides all that, you’ve reduced my wages over and over. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Awesome One of Isaac # 31:42 Or “the One whom Isaac worships” or “the Fear of Isaac.” The Hebrew is uncertain. , had not been on my side, you certainly would have sent me away empty-handed! But God in his mercy took notice of how much I’ve suffered and how hard I’ve worked—and that’s why he rebuked you last night in your dream!”
Laban and Jacob Make a Covenant
43Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren; and the flocks are mine. In fact, everything you see belongs to me. But from today I will not be able to do anything more for my daughters and grandchildren. # 31:43 Or “What can I do today about these daughters of mine and these children they have borne?” 44Come now, let’s form a covenant between you and me. Let it endure as a witness between us.” # 31:44 This covenant (treaty), memorialized by the heap of stones and their covenant meal, was an agreement to never harm each other. 45So Jacob took a stone, set it up as a pillar, 46and in the presence of his relatives, he said to them, “Everyone gather stones, and place them here in a pile.” And they did so, and afterward, they ate together next to the heap of stones. 47Laban and Jacob named the place in both languages, Aramaic # 31:47 Or “Jegar Sahadutha,” Aramaic for “Heap of Witness.” and Hebrew, # 31:47 Or “Galeed,” Hebrew for “Heap of Witness.” calling it Witness Heap. 48And Laban said, “Today, this heap of stones will be a witness between you and me of our enduring friendship.” He called it Witness Heap 49and Watchpost, # 31:49 Or “Mizpah,” which means “Watchpost [Lookout].” Jesus is our Mizpah. Eph. 2:14 states that Jesus made the Jew and the gentile one, breaking down the middle wall between them. Jacob, the father of the Israelites, and Laban, a gentile, found peace at Mizpah. for Laban declared, “May Yahweh keep his eyes on us when we are absent from each other. 50If you mistreat my daughters or marry other women besides my daughters, remember that even though no one else is with us, God is watching us. 51Here is the heap of stones and here is the memorial pillar that stands between us. # 31:51 Or “that I have set up between us.” 52This heap and this pillar stand as witnesses that I will never pass beyond them to harm you and that you will never pass beyond them to harm me. 53Now may the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor judge between us!” # 31:53 As translated from some Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint. Other Hebrew manuscripts add “the gods of their fathers.” Yahweh, the God of Abraham, was not the god of Nahor. Yahweh called Abraham out of Haran (see Gen. 12:4) and away from idol worship (see Josh. 24:2).
Jacob made his vow by the Awesome One of his father Isaac. # 31:53 Or “by [in the name of] the Fear of Isaac [the One whom Isaac feared].” 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and called everyone together for a meal, and they remained there all night on the mountain.
55Early the next morning, Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren, blessed them, and then he returned home.
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