Jacob Separates from Laban
1Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same as before.
3The Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your family, and I will be with you.”#Gn 28:15; 32:10
4Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I can see from your father’s face that his attitude toward me is not the same as before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that with all my strength I have served your father#Gn 30:29 7and that he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not let him harm me. 8If he said, ‘The spotted sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born spotted. If he said, ‘The streaked sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born streaked.#Gn 30:32 9God has taken away your father’s herds and given them to me.
10“When the flocks were breeding, I saw in a dream that the streaked, spotted, and speckled males were mating with the females. 11In that dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.#Gn 30:37–40; Ex 3:7 13I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to me.#Gn 28:18–19 Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.’”
14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Do we have any portion or inheritance in our father’s family? 15Are we not regarded by him as outsiders? For he has sold us#Gn 29:19–30 and has certainly spent our purchase price. 16In fact, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever God has said to you.”
17So Jacob got up and put his children and wives on the camels. 18He took all the livestock and possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram, and he drove his herds to go to the land of Canaan, to his father Isaac. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols.#Jdg 17:5; 1Sm 15:23; 19:13; Ezk 21:21; Hs 3:4; Zch 10:2 20And Jacob deceived#31:20 Lit And he stole the heart of Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing. 21He fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for#31:21 Lit and set his face to the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Overtakes Jacob
22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him, pursued Jacob for seven days, and overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night. “Watch yourself!” God warned him. “Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”#Gn 24:50; 31:29; 2Sm 13:22
25When Laban overtook Jacob, Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban and his relatives also pitched their tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken my daughters away like prisoners of war! 27Why did you secretly flee from me, deceive me, and not tell me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and lyres, 28but you didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly. 29I could do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Watch yourself! Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you long for your father’s family — but why have you stolen my gods?” #Gn 31:19; Jos 24:2; Jdg 18:24
31Jacob answered, “I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find your gods with anyone here, he will not live!#Gn 44:9 Before our relatives, point out anything that is yours and take it.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two concubines,#31:33 Lit servants but he found nothing. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken Laban’s household idols, put them in the saddlebag of the camel, and sat on them. Laban searched the whole tent but found nothing.
35She said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence;#Lv 19:32 I am having my period.” So Laban searched, but could not find the household idols.
Jacob’s Covenant with Laban
36Then Jacob became incensed and brought charges against Laban. “What is my crime?” he said to Laban. “What is my sin, that you have pursued me? 37You’ve searched all my possessions! Have you found anything of yours?#31:37 Lit What have you found from all of the possessions of your house? Put it here before my relatives and yours, and let them decide between the two of us. 38I’ve been with you these twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams from your flock. 39I did not bring you any of the flock torn by wild beasts; I myself bore the loss. You demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or by night. 40There I was — the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41For twenty years in your household I served you — fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks#Gn 29:27,30 — and you have changed my wages ten times! 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and my hard work,#31:42 Lit and the work of my hands and he issued his verdict last night.”
43Then Laban answered Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters; the children, my children; and the flocks, my flocks! Everything you see is mine! But what can I do today for these daughters of mine or for the children they have borne? 44Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I.#Gn 21:27,32; 26:28 Let it be a witness between the two of us.”
45So Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a marker.#Jos 24:26–27 46Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound, then ate there by the mound. 47Laban named the mound Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Galeed.#31:47 Jegar-sahadutha is Aramaic, and Galeed is Hb; both names = Mound of Witness
48Then Laban said, “This mound is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore the place was called Galeed 49and also Mizpah,#31:49 = Watchtower#Jdg 11:29; 1Sm 7:5–6 for he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, though no one is with us, understand that God will be a witness between you and me.”#Jdg 11:10; 1Sm 12:5; Jb 16:19; Jr 42:5; Mc 1:2 51Laban also said to Jacob, “Look at this mound and the marker I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness and the marker is a witness that I will not pass beyond this mound to you, and you will not pass beyond this mound and this marker to do me harm. 53The God of Abraham, and the gods#Jos 24:2 of Nahor — the gods of their father#31:53 Two Hb mss, LXX omit the gods of their father — will judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat a meal. So they ate a meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, and blessed them. Then Laban left to return home.
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Jacob Flees from Laban
1But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” 2And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. 5He said to them, “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. 9In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
10“One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
12“The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel,#31:13 As in Greek version and an Aramaic Targum; Hebrew reads the God of Bethel. the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”
14Rachel and Leah responded, “That’s fine with us! We won’t inherit any of our father’s wealth anyway. 15He has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us. 16All the wealth God has given you from our father legally belongs to us and our children. So go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
17So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. 19At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her. 20Jacob outwitted Laban the Aramean, for they set out secretly and never told Laban they were leaving. 21So Jacob took all his possessions with him and crossed the Euphrates River,#31:21 Hebrew the river. heading for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22Three days later, Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. 24But the previous night God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and told him, “I’m warning you—leave Jacob alone!”
25Laban caught up with Jacob as he was camped in the hill country of Gilead, and he set up his camp not far from Jacob’s. 26“What do you mean by deceiving me like this?” Laban demanded. “How dare you drag my daughters away like prisoners of war? 27Why did you slip away secretly? Why did you deceive me? And why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast, with singing and music, accompanied by tambourines and harps. 28Why didn’t you let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren and tell them good-bye? You have acted very foolishly! 29I could destroy you, but the God of your father appeared to me last night and warned me, ‘Leave Jacob alone!’ 30I can understand your feeling that you must go, and your intense longing for your father’s home. But why have you stolen my gods?”
31“I rushed away because I was afraid,” Jacob answered. “I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32But as for your gods, see if you can find them, and let the person who has taken them die! And if you find anything else that belongs to you, identify it before all these relatives of ours, and I will give it back!” But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the household idols.
33Laban went first into Jacob’s tent to search there, then into Leah’s, and then the tents of the two servant wives—but he found nothing. Finally, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34But Rachel had taken the household idols and hidden them in her camel saddle, and now she was sitting on them. When Laban had thoroughly searched her tent without finding them, 35she said to her father, “Please, sir, forgive me if I don’t get up for you. I’m having my monthly period.” So Laban continued his search, but he could not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 37You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!
38“For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.
40“I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac#31:42 Or and the Fear of Isaac.—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”
Jacob’s Treaty with Laban
43Then Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? 44So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.”
45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).
48Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.
51“See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.”
So Jacob took an oath before the fearsome God of his father, Isaac,#31:53 Or the Fear of his father, Isaac. to respect the boundary line. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain.
55 # 31:55 Verse 31:55 is numbered 32:1 in Hebrew text. Laban got up early the next morning, and he kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
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