Genesis  31:1-55


Verse 1  And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that [was] our father's; and of [that] which [was] our father's hath he gotten all this glory.

It is very interesting to note that Laban's sons never say that their wealth was due to Jacob's work.  A very quick look at Laban's flock show that the flock was small when Jacob came, so small that Rachel was able to take care of it.  After Jacob came, the flock grew tremendously, then Jacob took all the spotted cattle and left the perfect ones to Laban.  After Laban's herd began to dwindle (because Jacob was working on his own flock and taking care of Laban's on the side, while Laban and his sons did who knows what) then the sons began to complain that Jacob was stealing their fathers flock.

The complainers are almost always the people that are not working.


Verse 2  And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it [was] not toward him as before.

The word "countenance" means face.  In other words, the face or the look of Laban when he dealt with Jacob was different.  When Laban was gaining from Jacob's work, he enjoyed and looked forward to seeing him.  But when Jacob was gaining from his own labor, Laban had trouble looking at Jacob and enjoying that he also had wealth.

It is obvious that Laban listened to his sons, and not his daughters or son in law.

It is interesting to note that Laban liked Jacob and the result of his work as long as he was gaining from it.  Just as soon as he stopped getting gain from the efforts of his son in law, his countenance changed.  The root cause of this change is envy.

Jacob and Laban has made a deal, and Jacob is getting the most out of it.

Jacob and Laban had made deals previously, but Laban had always gotten the upper hand, therefore Laban had always liked and trusted Jacob, but now that Jacob is getting the upper hand, Laban's trust has wavered.

It seems to me that Jacob pays no attention to the countenance of Laban until it is brought to his attention.  Jacob is not paranoid about his wealth, but honestly believes God is with him in his prosperity.


Verse 3  And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

It looks like God is using all these circumstances to get Jacob ready to return to Canaan.

There is really every reason for Jacob to stay in Padanaram.  His wives are at home there.  His wealth is there.  He has a good job there.  All his children have been born there.

There are some reasons not to return to Canaan.  Esau is still alive, and there is no doubt that Jacob remembers that Esau has promised to kill him.

God also uses the circumstances around us to get us ready to do His will.

James 5:1-7 - This verse and Gen. 31:3 tells us what God thinks of the deal Jacob and Laban have made.

A.  I believe God is in complete agreement with this arrangement.

1.   God has made the pilled rods work so Jacob's herd will be greatly increased.

2.   God also knows that Laban twisted every agreement between him and Jacob to his advantage.

3.   There is no doubt in my mind that Laban has cheated Jacob out of his rightful wage, and God will see to it that Jacob's gets paid.

4.   There are many employers today who do not want to pay their employees a rightful wage.  They may think they are getting away with that nonsense, but when God hears the prayers of His saints against those people, He will so arrange circumstances that His people and the employers receive just recompense.  This is why it is so very important for each employers to pay what they ought to pay before God.  If the employees doesn't work as hard as they ought to work, God will also "take care of them."

5.   I believe the correct relationship between employer and employee is "a fair days wage for a fair days work."  It is the responsibility of each to make sure they do their part.

B.   It is very important to notice that God never tells the employee not to work just because their employer doesn't pay them what they ought to have.

1.   Sometimes the employee feels he deserves more when he really doesn't.

2.   Sometimes the employee feels he deserves more when he really does, but the employer can't afford to pay him more.

3.   It is most important that employees realize that God sees, knows, and understands, all these circumstances.

4.   God can help us to get by on less than we think we have to have!

5.   The most essential element in this calculation is to put God first.


Verse 4  And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,

I think it is interesting to note who Jacob called to the field unto his flock.

He called both Rachel and Leah.  He didn't call just Rachel, the wife he loved the most.  He didn't call just Leah, the wife that had the most children.

He didn't call the handmaids at all.  They were his wives, but they were still the handmaids of his wives.  They belonged to him legally, but he was under no legal obligation to include them in his family.  They were not in the same legal status as a concubine, which is little more than a harlot, or mistress, but were not in the same legal status as a wife.

It is interesting to note that Abraham, Gen. 25:6, had concubines, and to keep them from thinking they had some sort of equal status with the promised seed, gave them gifts, and sent them away.

Jacob would not make decisions which affect his family without consulting with them.  It is good for the head of the family to remember that some decisions ought to be made only after consulting with family members that decision will effect.  Some husbands do not use their "suitable helps" (help-meet) that God gave them.  Pastors would do well to take advice from their wives as to their field of service; which church they should accept.

It is likely Jacob called Leah and Rachel to the field so their discussion would not be overheard.  Laban's words were overheard and repeated to Jacob and he would make sure his words to his wives are not overheard and repeated.  Also, by calling his wives to the field, he could continue to take care of the flocks without interruption.  His wives would not have their attention diverted by the children, or household duties.


Verse 5  And said unto them, I see your father's countenance, that it [is] not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.

Jacob presents the problem and the solution in one short sentence.  He enlarges on why Laban's countenance has changed (verse 6-10) and what God spoke to him (verse 11-13).


Verse 6  And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.

We don't necessarily have to believe that Jacob is telling the truth.

People who would believe Jacob.

1.   Almost every man would say he works very hard for his employer.

2.   His wives, they would naturally go along with it.

People who would disagree with Jacob.

1.   Laban, even though he says God blesses him because of Jacob, Gen. 30:27.

2.   Laban's sons - Gen. 31:1.

We really ought to believe that Jacob is telling the truth, because God also says it.  I don't believe Jacob is telling the truth simply because Jacob says it.

1.   Gen. 31:12 - God has seen all that Laban has done to him.

2.   God is a majority, regardless of who is against Him.


Verse 7  And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

Ten times may seem a bit too much in light of the scripture we have.  I know that Laban changed the original agreement that Jacob was to work 7 years for Rachel.  Jacob wound up working 14 years for the two daughters of Laban, Leah and Rachel.  It is very likely that during the past 6 years Laban has changed their agreement an additional nine times.  It is also likely that the number ten doesn't speak of a definite number, but it is a figure of speech indicating that Laban changed the agreement any time he felt like it.  The next verse gives some indication of the way Laban changed the agreement from time to time.

In verse 41 Jacob tells Laban to his face that he has changed his wages 10 times, and Laban does not refute it.  It may be that Laban is afraid to say Jacob is wrong because God has appeared to him, telling him not to say anything good for him, or anything bad against him.


Verse 8-10, If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked. {9} Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given [them] to me. {10} And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle [were] ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.

According to verse 8, Laban had changed the original agreement several times in order to try get as many of the cattle as possible.  It seems that Laban would look at the present crop of calves and take note of how many were speckled, or ringstraked, or spotted.  He then used that information to change the agreement, anticipating that the next crop of calves would be in proportion to the last crop of calves.

According to verse 9, God kept changing the type cattle that was born to suit the agreement and Jacob would wind up with the most calves.  What is so odd about this is that Laban appears to be fighting God and knowing who he is fighting.  In Gen. 30:27, Laban confesses that he has learned by experience that God has blessed him because of Jacob.  He ought to realize that God is blessing Jacob, regardless of Laban.  If Laban's statement is really true, he really realizes that God is God (the king of kings and Lord of lords) and that He is blessing Jacob, he ought to try to stay on Jacob's good side.  Instead, he gets angry at Jacob for what God is doing.  If spiritual blessings are so important to Laban, he shouldn't get so upset at Jacob for God blessing him.  He ought to be glad for Jacob and his daughters and grand-children.

Verse 10 indicates that the agreement Jacob made with Laban wasn't conceived in his mind, but was given to him from God in a dream.

According to some sources in my library, the cattle of Jacob conceive twice a year, once in the spring, and again in the autumn.


Verse 11  And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, [saying], Jacob: And I said, Here [am] I.

God often uses circumstances to reinforce his will and purpose in our lives.  It is often wrong to make decisions by looking at circumstances only.  God often confirms his will with circumstances.  Please understand that in the days when the Bible wasn't complete, God often revealed his will to his saints in dreams and visions.  Today, the secret things are revealed to God's saints through the Word of God, the Bible.


Verse 12  And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle [are] ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

God has seen all that Laban has done to trick Jacob into working for nothing, and God will take care of it.  Notice that at least 6 years has gone by, more than likely 20 years have gone by.  These many years have passed one day at a time while Jacob worked, slept, ate, rested, loved, etc.  Sometimes the course of events may cause us to think that God doesn't see or understand what we are going through.  Never fear, He always sees, and understands.  The "short run" may be hard, but the "long run" with God is always best.


Verse 13  I [am] the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, [and] where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

God identifies Himself.  God doesn't call Himself the God of Abraham, but the God of Bethel.  Jacob was unfamiliar with his dad's God, but he wasn't unfamiliar to the God he met at Bethel.  God reminds Jacob of his vow to tithe, and the symbol he used to confirm it.

God doesn't tell Jacob to return to the promised land, but to the land of thy kindred.  It is the promised land, but it has not been given to Jacob as yet.

Jacob will undergo a tremendous change in his outlook when he faces Esau again.  He will "wrestle with God" and halt upon his thigh.  He will be forever changed, as he comes to the place of no longer trusting in himself and his strength, but learns to wholly lean on God.  This is a very good place for all of us to come to.

The Jews are strangers and pilgrims in that land, just like we, today, are strangers and pilgrims in this earth.  One day we will reign as kings and priests in a new earth.  This earth has been promised to us, but has not been given to us yet.  One day soon, God will completely destroy this earth and all wickedness, and will create a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Then we will reign with Him.  Remember, the meek will inherit the earth, Matt. 5:5.


Verse 14-16, And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, [Is there] yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? {15} Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. {16} For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that [is] ours, and our children's: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

It is good that Rachel and Leah agree with Jacob.

Here is surely something for fathers to think about.  When daughters are given to husbands, they will begin to think like their husbands.  When sons are given another man's daughter to wife, that wife begins to think like their husband.  The marriage ceremony includes a part where the bride walks down the aisle on the arm of her father, who gives the bride away to the bridegroom.  This is more than simply tradition, but shows that the father is giving up the daughter to another man.  There is a way around the father having to lose his daughters completely.  If the father believes in God and serves him faithfully, and his daughter marries a man who also believes in God and serves him faithfully, the daughter (wife) will see no difference between the life time goals of her father and her husband.  She will be willing to remain with both of them all the days of her life, training her children in the ways of her father and husband.

Another point:  In Numbers 31:17, Moses commanded Israel to kill all the people of Midianites.  Instead they kept all the women and little ones alive, and kept the bulk of their cattle.  When Moses came upon the scene, he was angry and declared they should kill all the women which had known man by lying with them, but could keep all the women alive which had not known man by lying with him.  There were 32,000 women children they didn't kill, but let live and they could take unto themselves for wives.

Another point: these daughters really feel their father has deserted them.  This is very sad, but the truth is that Laban had sold his daughters to Jacob.  As the story unfolds, it is very clearly seen that Laban cares more about material things than the welfare of his daughters and grandchildren.  Laban is not the first father that has lost the love of his children by paying too much attention to material things, and not enough to them.

Rachel and Leah believe they are treated as strangers by their father.  He has sold them for 14 years worth of Jacob's labors.  There is no record that he ever asked them about whether or not they wanted Jacob to be their husband, but used them as he would have used the spoil taken in battle, a woman taken in battle, and not as a daughter.

Laban's daughters believe the profit their father received from their sale has been spent by him.  They do not believe they have received any benefit from it at all.  They had expected to receive the earthly goods of Laban at his death, but now they expect nothing.  This is not quite the case.  They have received an husband and children.  But more than that, they have been granted entrance into the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

There is no mention of Rachel and Leah's mother.  There is no record of what happened to her.


Verse 17  Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;

Camels were used mostly for desert travel because they had large flat feet and could travel up to 100 miles a day under favorable conditions.  The area Jacob would be traveling through seems to be arid, but not desert.

Camels are also a symbol of wealth.  The first thing a person would want to gain would be sheep and cattle.  These would be used for milk, food, and clothing.  When he had enough milk, food and clothing, then he would trade some of the "extra" cattle and sheep for camels so it would be easier for him to travel about.


Verse 18  And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.

Jacob will take all his possessions.  This is not like he is just going to Padanaram for a visit with his relations.  He is going to stay, therefore, he will take all that belongs to him.  He is moving from one point to another.

A.  Some believe that God will bless just as good in one place as another.  This is not so.

1.   God could not bless Lot because of the wickedness he accepted into his life.

2.   God did not bless Abraham in the land of Ur because he would give him the land of Canaan.

3.   God will not bless Jacob in Padanaram because the land of Canaan is the promised land.

4.   Many people live where they are born and raised up with no thought that God might have something else for them.

a.   There are some areas of land where it is very difficult to receive the blessings of God because of the wickedness of the place, or the slothfulness (their lack of enthusiasm of religious things) of the people of God.

b.   I remember one lady telling me she knew there was a better way to worship than what went on in the church she was a member of.  She had seen how another church was a great blessing, but her church wasn't that kind of blessing.  The only reason she continued in church was because of a hope her church would "see the light."

b.   Some people are so intent on staying where they are that they disregard the plain commands of God to leave.

B.   It is important for all God's children to determine where He wants them to live so they will be able to receive the greatest blessings God has.


If Jacob is going to his father, Isaac, he must know that he is still alive.


Verse 19  And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that [were] her father's.

Since Laban is shearing sheep, it is evident he still has some.  God hasn't given all of Laban's sheep to Jacob.

One question.  If Laban was shearing his sheep when he heard that Jacob had left, had Jacob already sheared his sheep, or did he leave with them needing to be sheared?  The answer to this question is probably not very important because God didn't give the answer in the Bible.  It does seem to me, however, that Jacob already had his sheep sheared and the wool sold in preparation for the trip.  It would be difficult for the sheep to travel with that heavy load of hot wool upon them.

For me to believe this, I must also believe that Jacob might have sheared his sheep a little ahead of schedule, or that Laban was a little behind.  I used to work for a farmer who had a lot of work to do.  He always started working earlier in the season than the other farmers and worker later in the season than any of them.

I think this also shows that Laban knew little about the activities of Jacob, but that Jacob knew the activities of Laban, at least when he decided to leave.  According to Jewish historians, Jacob had some 5,500 sheep.  If Jacob has already sheared his sheep, one can imagine the time it would take, and surely somebody slipped around and told Laban.  Perhaps Laban didn't pay any attention to Jacob having already sheared his sheep, as Jacob was usually ahead in almost everything.  Any person with a lot to do will work harder to get it done.

Rachel steals her father's images (gods).

The reasons given for Rachel stealing the images of Laban.

1.   Some believe the images would be able to tell Laban where Jacob had gone, and Rachel took them so they couldn't tell him.  If this is so, it means that Rachel believes the images could do it.  If Rachel believes this is so, it seems strange that she would have to hide them among the camel's furniture and tell her father she was menstruating, and therefore unclean.

2.   Some believe Rachel was a true believer in God and wanted her father to stop worshipping images, therefore, she stole them from him so he couldn't worship them.  If the gods weren't in her fathers house, they couldn't tell him where Jacob went, and if Laban found Jacob anyway, that would prove to her father that his images weren't gods at all, but simply pieces of metal.  Of course, the way to help an unbeliever is to steal his possessions!  Romans 3:8 Those people who believe they ought to "do evil that good" may come ought to be damned.

3.   Some believe Rachel didn't think they were gods at all, but she took them to remind her of home, because she was pretty sure she wouldn't see her father again.

4.   Some believe Rachel took the images because of their value.  They were probably made out of silver or gold, or some other precious metal, and would be worth quite a lot.  Rachel had lost her inheritance, and had nothing for herself.  She had wealth with her husband, but no personal wealth. The value of the metal in the images would give her some wealth that belonged only to her.

5.   Some believe Rachel intended to worship these images in Canaan, even though she tells Jacob she will go where his God leads her.  (This is what I believe.)  Gen. 35:2 seems to back this point up.  When God commands Jacob to return to Bethel, Jacob commands the people with him to put away the strange gods among them.  Jacob hid these images and earrings under an oak, probably with the intention of retrieving them when their worship of God was finished.  This is certainly not a good way to go about worshipping God.


Verse 20  And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.

Some teach this means that Jacob stole away the heart of Laban by taking his two daughters, his grand-children and his great wealth and prestige.

Some teach this means that Jacob got away from Laban before he could use astrology, which the Syrians are famous for.

I believe it means that Jacob didn't tell Laban or any of his servants that he was leaving.  The word "stole" means to get away without Laban's knowledge.  I do wonder if Rachel and Leah said good-bye to their mothers.

Jacob stole away from Laban and Rachel stole his gods.


Verse 21  So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face [toward] the mount Gilead.

The word "fled" indicates that Jacob moved quickly in order to put as much distance between he and Laban as possible.

The Jews tell us that Jacob had some 5,500 cattle.  It would take several manservants to take care of this many cattle.

The river Jacob passed over was probably Euphrates.


Verse 22  And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.

They lived three days apart, so it would take three days for the news to travel to Laban.

Some will wonder who told Laban.  It could have been almost anybody except the servants of Jacob, who were traveling.  The servants of Laban who were not shearing sheep would know, and probably some of them told Laban.  It is also possible that some of the people who saw this great caravan of 5,500 sheep and all the menservants and maidservants and all the other supplies they needed told Laban.  After all, moving 5,500 sheep would be noticed.


Verse 23  And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.

There is no record of who the brethren were that went with Laban, although it seems likely his sons went, and probably some servants.  I believe Laban intended to stop Jacob by force, take all his possessions and his daughters and grandchildren and return to Padanaram with them, whether Jacob came back or not.  I believe Laban's intentions were to leave Jacob as penniless as he was when he came 20 years ago.

See verse 29 where Laban declares that it is in his power to do Jacob hurt.  All he has to do is give the word and the brethren Laban brought with him will hurt Jacob.

See my comments on verse 43 for Laban's bragging about all Jacob's possessions.

It took seven days to catch Jacob because he couldn't travel very fast because of the herds.  Laban didn't bring his herds with him.  Laban was traveling very fast for long hours in order to catch Jacob in this time.  Of course, Jacob wasn't able to travel very fast because of the herds.

The seven days journey was Laban's, not Jacob's.  I figure it like this.  Laban and Jacob worked three days apart.  Before Jacob left, some of his family members (probably Rachel and Leah) went back to Laban's house to say good-bye and Rachel took the graven images.  When the people got back to Jacob's place, they all left, and at that time, someone traveled three days to tell Laban.  Laban had to go home and that took three days.  During the time at home, he discovered the images were gone.  Laban then prepared for travel and took seven days to reach Jacob. This means that Jacob had already been traveling 13 days (3 + 3 + 7 = 13).  The reason I believe Jacob had been traveling 13 days is because Laban caught up with Jacob at Mount Gilead, which was approximately 300 miles.  In order to travel 300 miles in 13 days, Jacob would have to travel 23 miles a day, which is real good time, considering all the animals and small children.  Jacob did have camels to travel on, so that would be faster, but the animals can only go so fast.  (It is also very likely that Jacob had a 3 day head start on Laban, so he could have traveled 16 days before Laban caught up with him.)

It might be argued that Jacob traveled very slowly because Genesis 33:13 states that Jacob preferred to travel slowly because of the tender children, and flocks and herds with young.  In answer to that, I would reply that Jacob is afraid.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jacob is pushing the herds just as fast as he dared.  Jacob might mean in Genesis 33:13 that the flocks and herds and tender children have been pushed as far as they dare.  If they try to go as fast as in the past, they will all die.



Verse 24  And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

Even though Laban was very tired from pursuing Jacob, he could not sleep soundly because God troubled his sleep.  He came to him and told him to speak nothing good or bad toward Jacob.

Notice that God didn't appear to Laban until after he began to pursue Jacob.  God didn't give Laban any comfort for the loss of his daughters, grandchildren, and son in law, or Jacob's flocks which Laban thinks belongs to him.  He only warned Laban not to speak evil of, or attempt to hurt Jacob in any way.  This warning in itself should have told Laban that God was on his side.

It is a side thought right here, but it is a wonder to me that Laban took God's word that Jacob was not to be harmed, but still searched for his gods that Rachel took.  If he was a believer in God, why did he want the idols?  It may be that Laban is using the idols for a reason to see his daughters one last time, but he will not admit how much he loves them and how much he is going to miss them.

It seems to me that Laban is a terrible person to be around.

He is the kind of person that is always against something especially when he sees that everybody else is for it.  When he finally sees that things are going to go against him, he will change his mind and claim that the whole idea was his in the first place.

He is the kind of person like a man I know who was working as a janitor, but claimed to be a supervisor.  Some folks came to visit him on the job and he was embarrassed because the real supervisor got on to him for not cleaning up a mess like he was supposed to.

He is the kind of person who will steal from others to get gain, but doesn't want to pay those that work for him a decent wage.


Verse 25  Then Laban overtook Jacob.  Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.

After seven days Laban overtook Jacob.  Jacob had to travel slower than Laban because of the herds and children.

I assume that both Jacob and Laban pitched their tents in the same mount, Mount Gilead.

Jacob might have pitched his tent because:

1.   He felt he was far enough away from Laban to be safe.

2.   To give the herds a much needed rest after hard traveling.


The face to face meeting

Verse 26-32


Verse 26-28 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives [taken] with the sword? {27} Wherefore 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 tabret, and with harp? {28} And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in [so] doing.

1.   Laban speaks first.

2.   There is no greeting, or sign of affection from Laban or Jacob.

3.   It is interesting to note that Laban makes no mention of Jacob stealing any of his flocks, only his daughters, even though he later claims all of Jacob's herds as his own (verse 43).

4.   Laban pictures Jacob as:

a.   A thief (stole away unawares, flee away secretly, steal away).  Laban speaks the truth about Jacob stealing away.  See verse 20.  Jacob doesn't deny it, but tells the truth, he is afraid of what Laban would do.

b.   A victorious captor who is afraid of being caught (carried away, as captives).

c.   He indicates that Rachel and Leah disagree with Jacob and would have acted differently if they had a choice.

5.   Laban pictures himself as a very understanding person who would do anything to make Jacob and his daughters happy.  It is difficult to see ourselves as others see us.  We probably never will because each person sees us differently.

6.   Verse 28 - Laban says he would have kissed his sons and daughters, but according to verse 14-16, his daughters might not want his kiss.

7.   Done foolishly.  This is Laban's assessment. But Jacob believes he has done the only thing he could do.  It would have been better for Jacob to confront Laban earlier, but the past actions of Laban made this impossible in Jacob's eyes.  We must be very careful to treat people in such a way that they will feel free to discuss important matters with us.

8.   Sons and daughters.  Laban is apparently speaking about his grandsons, granddaughter, and daughters.  It is amazing to me that he calls his grandsons and granddaughter his sons and daughters.  It looks like he is claiming everything Jacob has.


Verse 29  It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt.  This is completely stupid and un-called for.

1.   Laban only thinks he has the power to hurt Jacob.  He may have the "manpower", but he doesn't have the "spirit power".  God will not allow Laban to hurt Jacob, but apparently Laban doesn't understand this.  His show of force shows why Jacob is afraid of him.

2.   Compare this saying with verse 27 and 28.  Why would Laban say he would have thrown a big farewell party, then say he would do Jacob hurt?  This is just another example of Laban changing Jacob's wages 10 times.  Laban is so irrational in his thinking and doing that he cannot be trusted.


Verse 30  And now, [though] thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, [yet] wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

Laban makes no mention that Jacob has stolen any of his cattle, but he does mention that his gods are gone.  He blames Jacob for the loss of his gods, because Jacob is the head of his household.  It is very easy to tell that the cattle belong to Jacob because they are all spotted, ringstraked, or speckled.  Yet according to verse 43, Laban claims all Jacob's cattle as his!

I wonder when Laban heard that the gods were missing?  Was this a part of the report that Jacob had fled?  Did Laban take time to go by home, get supplies, and pray to his gods, and found them missing?  If these were gods that used astrology, did he have to consult with them concerning Jacob's whereabouts?  If he did, they didn't do him any good because he found Jacob without them.

There is no doubt that Jacob is homesick, but Laban conveniently "forgets" the real reasons Jacob must return to Canaan.

1.   God has spoken to him, commanding him to return.

2.   The relationship between Jacob and Laban has slowly disintegrated to the point that Jacob doesn't trust Laban or his sons.  Gen. 30:33 - Jacob had not trusted Laban for the past 6 years.  Gen. 31:1 declares that Laban's sons continually said that Jacob was stealing from their father.


Verse 31  And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.

Jacob admitted he was afraid.  It is not wrong to say when you are afraid, even though some people take that to mean you are a coward.  A brave person will admit when they are afraid.  They will also admit when they know there is something to be afraid of.  Jacob was afraid of the power of Laban.  And not only of his power, but also of his hard heart in taking away his wives.  Notice that Jacob seems to answer rather timidly.

The word "force" means to tear away, or seize by tearing off, to rob.  Jacob believes Laban has changed his wages ten times, thus effectively robbing him of wages.  What will stop that kind of man from robbing Jacob of his wives and children.

It is interesting to note that Jacob is not afraid of losing his flocks.  The most precious things to him is not his riches, but his family.  This is very good.


Verse 32  With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what [is] thine with me, and take [it] to thee.  For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

Jacob give permission for the thief to be killed.  Jacob doesn't know Rachel stole the gods, else he wouldn't have said she could be killed.  I would imagine Rachel got really scared when she heard her husband say these words.  She would quickly devise some sort of plan to keep her father unawares that she had stolen the gods.

Jacob also gives permission for Laban to examine his flocks, and possessions in front of witnesses (our brethren) and to take whatever belongs to him.  It must be noted that Laban didn't take anything.


Verse 33  And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the two maidservants' tents; but he found [them] not.  Then went he out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent.

It is apparent from this description of the search that Jacob and his wives, and maidservants had separate sleeping quarters.  This was an arrangement that allowed the most freedom, and the least amount of embarrassment for all.  Jacob would be able to go into any of his wife's tents, but if one of the wives continually slept with Jacob, it would be bad if another wife came into his tent with the other wife still there.  If one wife came into Jacob's tent, the other wife would have to leave, and that could be very embarrassing.

Laban searched Jacob's tent first.  He began at the person he least trusted, and proceeded to those he trusted the most.  There is no mention that he searched the tents of any of the manservants.  I suppose they would have a tent.

I do not believe it is an accident that Laban searched Rachel's tent last.  He probably trusted her the most, but she used this time to conceal the gods, and get her thoughts together with a good story.


Verse 34  Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them.  And Laban searched all the tent, but found [them] not.

The truth is not told here, but the truth will always come out.  (The truth is written in the Bible, isn't it?)  Jacob, Leah, the maidservants and Laban's witnesses don't discover the truth now, but later they will know.  How it is discovered, I do not know, but according to Gen. 35:2 Jacob commands his household to put away the strange gods that they have.  They do "put the gods away", but only temporarily.  They hide them so they can return to them later.  This is not a very good way to "put away" strange gods!

The camel's furniture seems to be the saddle or chair like saddle which was strapped to the camel for riding.

The pictures I have seen of this event have Rachel sitting on the camels furniture which is outside the tent.  The Bible states that Rachel stored the camel's furniture inside her tent.  Probably each person would keep the furniture belonging to them and their camel in their own tent for safety and from the elements.

Probably Rachel wrapped the images in the camel blankets and hid them underneath her skirts, sitting upon them, and thereby concealing them.


Verse 35  And 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 found not the images.

Rachel speaks of her menstrual period.  According to Leviticus 15:19-23, any person or anything that a menstruating woman touched was unclean, therefore, Laban didn't touch her or the camel's furniture.  He searched all around her, but didn't ask her to move so he could search under her.  He simply couldn't conceive that she had placed the gods in a place where they would be unclean.

There is some doubt in my mind that Rachel is menstruating at this time.  Would she think so little of the gods as to place them where they would be unclean?


Verse 36  And Jacob was wroth, and chode 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?

Notice the change in Jacob's temper from verse 31.  He was timid there, but not here.  All the anguish of the past burst forth at this point.  When all is well, Jacob allows his temper to have its way.


Verse 37  Whereas 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 betwixt us both.

When there is nothing set before Jacob and Laban, all present would know that Laban was at fault and that Jacob was innocent.  This fact gave rise to the following speech by Jacob, which condemned Laban for his treacherous ways toward Jacob.

Notice the two personal pronouns: My stuff - Thy household stuff.  Jacob lays his claim to his own property.  He believes this is necessary because Laban will soon claim it as his.

Notice the word "household".  Laban is searching of his household stuff, not the flocks.


Verse 38-41 This twenty years [have] I [been] with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. {39} That which was torn [of beasts] I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, [whether] stolen by day, or stolen by night. {40} [Thus] I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. {41} Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.

This is not the best way to leave one place and go to another.  Grievances shouldn't be aired just before parting.  They won't be rectified, rather they will be increased as they are thought about.  Besides that, it is hard to get a good recommendation from a person who is mad at you.

The things Jacob says he has borne for Laban.

1.   God has so blessed him that Laban's animals seldom, if ever, gave birth to a dead animal.

2.   The best and the glorious of Laban's flock were not eaten by Jacob, but he ate the lessor, saving the best so the herd would prosper.

3.   Jacob bore the cost of any animal that was killed, injured, or stolen while under his care.  This shows us that the life of a shepherd was not always pleasant.  Jacob even goes so far as to state that Laban required the cost of any injured, stolen by day or night, or killed animal at his hand.  Jacob is saying Laban required the animal of him whether or not he had any control over the situation.  At night he would be sleeping, yet Laban continued to hold him responsible for the injury.

4.   When there was a drought in the land, Jacob was the one that had to take care of the flocks, if there was frost, he had to be outside, taking care of Laban's animals.

5.   He had to stay up many nights, working to make sure everything went like it needed to go.

The past twenty years has been spent in Laban's house, working 14 years for his two daughters, and 6 years for thy cattle.  This statement is not disputed by Laban.

Changing wages 10 times.  Jacob told his wives this in verse 7, and they agreed with him.  In the verse before us, Jacob speaks to Laban's face, telling him the same thing.  Whether this is really true or not I really don't know, but I really believe Jacob is telling the truth.  I do know that Laban was guilty of changing Jacob's wages at his own whim.  I also note that Laban didn't refute Jacob's statement.  It may be that what Jacob said was true, or it may be that Laban has been warned of God not to say anything good for Jacob, or anything bad against him.  If that is the case, Laban simply lets the accusation pass.


Verse 42  Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty  God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked [thee] yesternight.

God is the only reason Laban hasn't cheated Jacob more.  It is the same for us.  Let us rest all our possessions in God.


Verse 43  And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, [These] daughters [are] my daughters, and [these] children [are] my children, and [these] cattle [are] my cattle, and all that thou seest [is] mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?

It seems to me that Laban is bragging to Jacob that everything he has has been stolen.  The only reason Laban is not demanding their return is because God told him not to.  It is likely Laban came to Jacob, expecting to take all his possessions back by force. This is the reason he brought all these brethren with him.

Laban is being very stupid to say (because he believes) all these things are his.  God gave them to Jacob.

See Gen. 30:33 - Jacob knows the time will come when Laban will once against accuse him of stealing from him.

Gen. 31:7 - Laban is about to change his wages again, and he would if God would allow it.


Verse 44  Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.



Verse 45  And Jacob took a stone, and set it up [for] a pillar.



Verse 46  And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.



Verse 47  And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

Jegarsahadutha means "witness-heap", which comes from the Syrian and Chaldee language.  Galeed means "witness-heap", which comes from the Hebrew language.  It is the same word, but in different languages.  This way every person, regardless of which language they understood, who came upon the heap of stones would understand that the agreement was between Jacob and Laban.


Verse 48  And Laban said, This heap [is] a witness between me and thee this day  Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;



Verse 49  And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

Mizpah means watchtower, which stands as a sign that God will watch between Laban and Jacob.  Anytime one of them would come to this heap on their journey to see the other, they would be reminded that they had made a covenant with each other before God.  They would not hurt each other, but would speak neither good or bad toward each other.


Verse 50  If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take [other] wives beside my daughters, no man [is] with us; see, God [is] witness betwixt me and thee.



Verse 51  And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold [this] pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee;



Verse 52  This heap [be] witness, and [this] pillar [be] witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.



Verse 53  The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us.  And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.

Laban didn't swear by God, probably because he is not a true believer.



Verse 54  Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

Laban was present at the sacrifice, but evidently he didn't take an active part.

Was this the first sacrifice Jacob ever offered?


Verse 55  And 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.

One battle is over, but there is a greater battle coming very, very soon.