Genesis 31 * Jacob Beats Laban

Rachel and Leah decide to leave their father Laban and follow their husband

God spoke to Jacob in a dream

Laban loses his daughters, and livelihood

Jacob is wise to the growing hostility between Laban’s men, and his growing tribe.

Jacob is now strong and a threat. He meets with his two wives in a private conference, the wives understand their time is now, God has spoken, they must immediately leave. They bless their husband’s leadership, and pack their bags.

The Face

Most english translations miss an important word, in Hebrew panyim means face, most translators, including my favored ESV do not bring enough strength to this word. Panyim is first found in the second verse of Genesis, where the text says, and darkness was over the face (surface) of the deep.

Jacob saw, through Laban’s face, into his soul, and knew Laban meant to harm him.

God then came gave promise, reminding him of Bethel, and commanded Jacob to return to the land of his father.

Trouble In Gilead

Mount Gilead is east of the Jordan river, and not easy to work around. As any cowboy will tell you, driving cattle requires patience, skill, and lots of good water.

Gilead provided all those things.

Seven days later, Laban caught up to Jacob, but God spoke to him in a dream, tempering his actions against his son in law.  Laban as is evident, was not above intimidation, bringing a host of angry men to confront Jacob.

Jacob is maturing, telling Laban the reason for his quick departure, ” I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters by force.” He was right to be concerned.

Idol Trouble

Rachel was not a deep woman of faith. In giving her servant girl to Jacob, and now stealing something belonging to her father, she slides further into compromise.

The ancient world produced tiny figurines, some where made to represent gods, others were to represent the spirit inside family members. It was believed if you prayed to those figurines, or held sacrifice or prayer vigil for them, answered prayers and power came your way.

The text is unclear as to why Rachel took them, but we do know she is as cunning as her father, especially when she claims her menstrual cycle for the reason she cannot rise to greet him. It’s all a lie, Rachel is sitting on Laban’s idols.

Total Hypocisy

The conflict is resolved when Laban suggests a covenant be made between the two men, a hilarious statement coming from a colossal rule breaker.

Jacob and the men gather stones and make a heap, just enough of a rock configuration to be noticeable.

Laban calls the mound one name, Jacob another, Gal-Ed in Hebrew simply means mound of witness.

Laban, ever the showboat, carries on in a series of accusations against Jacob, things which are not true.

For example, Laban asks Jacob to not harm his daughters, something he never had to worry about, but something Laban in fact did. He gets spiritual, claiming God can see, but it works against him because God can see Laban working against his chosen one.

Laban then tells Jacob the mound is a boundary line he is not to cross, accusing Jacob of one day wanting to return and dop harm, when in fact Laban is the hostile one, as seen in the large posse he brought with him.

Jacob produced a sacrificial meal, they enjoyed it together, and then Laban went home the next day, never to be heard from again.