Gen. 31.17-29  Travelling Idols

            Gen. 31:17 “Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; 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. 19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. 20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. 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.

22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. 23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead. 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. 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.

26 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. 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.”

Jacob knew that the Lord had bidden him to return to the land of Canaan, yet he tried to flee away in secret from the knowledge of Laban.  On the one hand he trusted the direction of the Lord, but he did not trust the protection of the Lord.  Jacob knew the greed of Laban and that the sons of Laban spoke against Jacob.  He also knew that Laban’s countenance was not toward him as before.  Jacob, feared for his safety and the safety of his family and he fled without saying goodbye to Laban. 

Apparently, Rachel was into idolatry and the worship of images as was her father Laban.  She stole her father’s images and told no one.  Apparently she wanted some images to worship since she would be away from those in her father’s house.  She stole them and later she lied about stealing them.  While she would deceive her husband and her father, yet she would not deceive God.  The problem with secret sins is that they are not secret with God.  Often, he brings them to light and to judgment.

Laban when he knew that Jacob had fled, pursued hard after Jacob with intention to do him harm.  Yet, God appeared unto him in a dream and warned him not speak good or bad 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.”  This question and statement of Laban was very hollow because of what he said next, “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.”

If Laban had been sincere, he would not have intended to do Jacob harm.  The fact that God appeared unto him is evidence that Laban had indeed intended to do Jacob harm.  Laban had no intention that Jacob and his family leave, but he feared the wrath of God and the wrath of Isaac.   


Gen. 31:30-42 Death Sentence

            Gen. 31:30 “And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

36 And Jacob was wroth, and chided 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? 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. 38 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. 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.”

Laban had asked Jacob why he had stolen away in secret to which Jacob responded by saying that he was afraid. 

Laban also accused Jacob of having stolen his images (gods).  To this Jacob invited Laban to search and with whomsoever the images were found that he was to be put to death.  Obviously, Jacob did not know who had stolen the images.  He also pronounced a death sentence upon Rachel which would be carried out by God at the birth of their youngest son. 

Laban, through his search found not the images.  To this Jacob began to vent about all the wrongs that Laban had done to him over the years as noted in verses 26-42.  This cleared the air for both men.   


Gen. 31:43-55  Proposal of Peace

            Gen. 31:43 “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? 44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. 45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 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.

47 And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; 49 And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another. 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. 51 And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; 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. 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. 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.

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.”

The relationship between a husband and father can be troubled at times.  In this case both men loved their family and wanted good for their family.  Ultimately, the husband has the final say, but the father can cause problems or make matters easier.  When Laban proposed a covenant between himself and Jacob, it was a covenant of peace and promise of refrain from harm.  Both men agreed to this covenant. 

The covenant was also a covenant of witness between the two men.  It was a witness that neither man would pass over the heap to do harm to the other.  They swore to the this covenant upon the name of the God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of Isaac and that God would judge between them.  In other words, if either violated the covenant, then they were asking the wrath of God upon the violator. 

Both, Laban and his men and Jacob and his family ate upon the heap, which is a sign of agreement and fellowship.  Both men also gave names unto the heap: Laban called the heap Jegarsahadutha and Jacob called it Galeed and Mizpah.  The names represented the meaning that each man gave to the heap of witness.  Both Jegarsahadutha and Galeed seem to mean heap of witness.  Mizpah mean watch tower. 

Next, Jacob sware to the covenant by the fear of his father, Isaac.  Thus, Jacob showed that his great respect and honor that he had for his father, Isaac, was reason that he would never violate the covenant. 

Finally, Jacob offered a sacrifice upon the heap, which indicated that Jacob would rather be in the place of the sacrificed animal than violate the terms of the covenant.

“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.”