Genesis 31
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Jacob Decides to Leave Laban

1Now Jacoba used to listen while Laban’s sons kept on complaining,b “Jacob has taken over everything our father owns! He made himself wealthy from what belongs to our father!” 2Jacob also noticed that the wayc Laban had been looking at him wasn’t as nice as it had been just two days earlier.d

3Then the LORD ordered Jacob, “Go back to your father’s territory and to your relatives. I’ll be with you.”

4Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to come out to the field where his flock was 5and informed them, “I’ve noticed that the waye your father has been looking at us hasn’t been as nice as it was just two days ago.f But my father’s God has been with me. 6You know I’ve been serving your father with all my heart. 7Even so, your father has cheated me. He broke our wage agreement ten times. However, God didn’t allow him to harm me.

8“When Laban said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flock gave birth to speckled ones. Then when he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ all the flock gave birth to streaked offspring.

9“So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me. 10As it was, when it was time for the livestock to breed, I once looked up in a dream, and the male goats that were matingg with the flock were producing streaked, speckled, and spotted offspring.

11“Later, the angel of God spoke to me in a dream, ‘Jacob.’

“‘Here I am,’ I replied

12“‘Look around!’ he said. ‘Go ahead, look! All the male goats have been mating with the flock, producing offspring that are streaked, speckled, and spotted, because I’ve been watching everything that Laban has done to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, the place where you consecrated that stone and made a vow to me. Now get up, leave this territory, and return to your native land.’”h

Rachel and Leah Consent to Leave

14Then Rachel and Leah asked him, “Do we have anything left of inheritancei remaining in our father’s house? 15He’s treating us like foreigners. He sold us and spent all of the moneyj that rightfully belonged to us. 16Furthermore, all of the wealth that God has stripped away from our father belongs to us now and to our children. So do everything that God tells you to do.” 17So Jacob got up, seated his children and wives on camels, 18and drove all his livestock ahead of him, with everything that belonged to him, including the livestock that he had bought and accumulated in Paddan-aram,k intending to deliver them to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

Laban Pursues Jacob

19Meanwhile, Laban had been out shearing his sheep. While he was away, Rachel stole her father’s personal idols.l 20Moreover, Jacob had deceivedm Laban the Aramean,n because he had never told him that he was intending to leave. 21Jacob fled, taking everything that he owned. He got up, crossed the river,o and headed to the hill country of Gilead. 22Three days later, somebody reported to Laban that Jacob had left, 23so he took his relatives with him and pursued Jacob. Labanp was on the road for seven days when he finally caught up with Jacobq in the hill country of Gilead.

God Warns Laban

24That night, God appeared to Laban the Arameanr in a dream and warned him, “Be careful what you say to Jacob, whether it’s one word good or bad.” 25Meanwhile, Jacob had pitched his tent on the mountain, where Laban had caught up with him.s Laban and his relatives encamped on that same mountain in the hill country of Gilead, too.

26Then Laban asked Jacob, “What did you do? You deceived me,t carried off my daughters like you would war captives,u 27ran away from me secretly,v and stole from me by not keeping me informed. Otherwise, I could have sent you off with a party and singing, accompanied by a band playing tambourines and harps. 28As it is, you didn’t even allow me to kiss my grandchildrenw and daughters goodbye! You’ve acted foolishly. 29It’s actually in my power to do some seriousx evil to you, but last night the God of your father told me, ‘Be careful what you say to Jacob whether good or evil.’ 30Now, you can go if you must go, because you certainly are longing to go to your father’s house. But why did you steal my gods?”

Laban Searches for His Idols

31“I was afraid,” Jacob replied. “I thought you might take your daughters from me. 32Now as to your gods, if you find someone has them in their possession, he’s a dead man.y Take our relatives as witnesses, search through our belongings, and take whatever belongs to you that’s in my possession.” But Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the idols.z 33So Laban entered Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two maid servants, but he didn’t find them.aa Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent.

34Meanwhile, Rachel had taken the idols,bb placed them inside the saddle of her camel, and sat on them. Laban searched through the whole tent, but found nothing. 35Then Rachel told her father, “Sir, please don’t be angry that I cannot stand up in your presence. It’s that time of the month.”cc So Labandd searched for the idols,ee but never did find them.ff

Jacob Rebukes Laban

36Then Jacob got angry and started an argument with Laban. “What have I done?” he demanded. “What’s my crime that would cause you to come pursue me so violently? 37Now that you’ve searched all my belongings, what did you find that belongs to your house? Set it here in front of our relativesgg and we’ll let them judge between us! 38Meanwhile, these past 20 years that I’ve been with you, your sheep and goats never had miscarriages, I never once ate any of the rams from your flock, 39and whatever was torn by beasts, I never bothered to bring to you. Instead, I bore the losses myself. Even so, you demanded that I provide restitution for anything that was stolen, whether during the day or the night. 40As it was, I was attacked by drought during the day and by cold at night. I never got any decent rest. 41I’ve lived in your house these 20 years—serving fourteen years for your two daughters and another six years for your flocks. During all that time you changedhh my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father—the God of Abraham, the God whom Isaac feared—had not been with me, you would have sent me away empty handed. But God saw my misery and how hard I’ve worked with my own hands—and he rebuked you last night.”

43But Laban answered Jacob, “These women are my daughters. These children are my children. The flocks are mine. In fact, everything that you see belongs to me. But what would I do today to my daughters and the children they have borne? 44Come, let’s make a covenant just between you and me. And let it serve as a witness between you and me.”

45So Jacob took a stone and raised it as a pillar. 46Then Jacob told his relatives, “Go gather some stones.” So they picked up stones and stacked them one on top of the other. Then they had a meal together there by the stack of stones. 47Laban named the place Jegar-sahadutha,ii but Jacob named it Galeed.jj

48Then Laban said, “This stack will serve as a witness between you and me today.” That’s how the place came to be named Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah,kk because Labanll said, “May the LORD watch between you and me, when we are estrangedmm from each other. 50If you mistreat my daughters or if you take other wives besides them, though no one is watchingnn us, keep in mind that God stands as a witness between you and me.”

51“Look!” Laban added, “Here is the stack of stones and here is the pillar that I’ve set up between you and me. 52This stack is a witness, and so is this pillar, reminding me not to cross beyond this stack of stones, and reminding you not to pass by this stack in my direction, intending to cause harm. 53May Abraham’s God and Nahor’s god judge between us.”

So Jacob made an oath by his father’s Fear,oo 54offered sacrifices there on the mountain, and called on his relatives to eat some food. So they ate the food and spent the night on the mountain. 55pp Early the next morning, Laban woke up, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, blessed them, and then left for home.qq

a 31:1 Lit. He
b 31:1 Lit. saying
c 31:2 Lit. face
d 31:2 Lit. been the day before yesterday
e 31:5 Lit. the face of
f 31:5 Lit. was the day before yesterday
g 31:10 Lit. climbing up
h 31:13 Lit. to the land of your birth
i 31:14 Lit. portion and inheritance
j 31:15 Lit. silver
k 31:18 Paddan-aram was located in northwest Mesopotamia
l 31:19 Lit. father’s teraphim; i.e. personal idols typically stored inside a small household shrine
m 31:20 Lit. had stolen away the heart of
n 31:20 In later centuries this region would be called Syria
o 31:21 i.e. possibly the Euphrates River
p 31:23 Lit. He
q 31:23 Lit. him
r 31:24 In later centuries this region would be called Syria
s 31:25 Lit. Jacob
t 31:26 Lit. You stole my heart
u 31:26 Lit. captives of the sword
v 31:27 Lit. me, hiding yourself
w 31:28 Lit. sons
x 31:29 The Heb. lacks some serious
y 31:32 Lit. he is not to live
z 31:32 Lit. them
aa 31:33 The Heb. lacks them
bb 31:34 Lit. teraphim; i.e. personal idols typically stored inside a small household shrine
cc 31:35 Lit. that manner of women for me
dd 31:35 Lit. he
ee 31:35 Lit. teraphim; i.e. personal idols typically stored inside a small household shrine
ff 31:35 The Heb. lacks them
gg 31:37 Lit. my relatives and your relatives
hh 31:41 Lit. you cut through
ii 31:47 The Aram. name Jegar-sahadutha means stack of witness
jj 31:47 The Heb. name Galeed means stack of witness
kk 31:49 The Heb. word Mizpah means watchtower
ll 31:49 Lit. he
mm 31:49 Or concealed
nn 31:50 Lit. with
oo 31:53 i.e. the LORD
pp 31:55 This v. is 32:1 in MT
qq 31:55 Lit. for his place

The Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.1
Copyright © 1996-2012 The ISV Foundation

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