Genesis 31:42
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely by now you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment."
Jacob At HaranW. Roberts.Genesis 31:22-42
LabanM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 31:22-42
Laban's Expostulation with Jacob, and Jacob's DefenceT. H. Leale.Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D., J. C. Gray.Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG Hughes, B. D.Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D. .Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D. .Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D. .Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D. .Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D. .Genesis 31:22-42
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 31:22-42
The Years of ServitudeE. Craig.Genesis 31:22-42

And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, &c. A great lesson on -

I. THE EVIL OF DISSIMULATION. Hatred and wrong the fruits of crafty ways. Family dissensions where the things of this world uppermost. Separations which are made in the spirit of dependence on God rend no true bond, but rather strengthen affection.

II. THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD. No justification of Laban, much imperfection in Jacob; yet the shield of Divine patience and mercy thrown over the man who vowed the vow of service, in whom his grace would yet be abundantly revealed. Laban's action controlled by God. He forbad the evil design. He stilleth the enemy and the avenger. "Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad" (ver. 29). "Touch not mine anointed," &c. When we are doing God's work and walking towards his chosen end we may leave it with him to speak with those who would hinder or harm us. - R.

Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, ....?

1. There was, apparently, cause for just complaint.

(1)There were some criminal elements in the conduct of Jacob.

(2)There was unkindness and a breach of social obligations.

2. But this complaint was, really, the disguise of Laban's own evil nature.


1. He challenges proof of his dishonesty.

2. He appeals to many years of faithful and honest service.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. Laban, upon tidings of Jacob's deliverance, haste in fury to avenge themselves on them.

2. Wicked men of might join to themselves their allies, to help on their furious revenges.

3. Injustice and cruelty will spur souls on to the persecution of the innocent many days.

4. Envy and revenge will not give over pursuing the innocent until they overtake their prey (ver. 23).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. THE FLIGHT of Jacob from Laban.

1. Cause.(1) Jealousy of Jacob's prosperity amongst Laban's family (ver. 1).(2) Jacob had himself been not very kindly treated by Laban (ver. 7).(3) Command of God that he should return (ver. 13). Added to this, Rachael and Leah, also, were willing to depart, as feeling that they were not so welcome at home as formerly (vers. 14, 15);(4) and yet could not go away openly. Laban would have hindered him, or have prevented his carrying away the whole of his property (ver. 42).

2. Time. Sheepshearing. So important a duty that Laban must himself superintend it. He goes some distance from home. While Laban is absent, Jacob steals away. Collects his flocks and herds, servants and substance, and sets out over the desert which he had traversed some twenty-one years before with only his staff in his hand.

II. THE PURSUIT. Of Laban after Jacob. Laban did not hear of Jacob's flight till three days had passed. This part of the journey Jacob would naturally travel with all speed. So large a caravan could not march without leaving the plain track behind. Laban in pursuit for seven days, i.e., until ten days after Jacob had started. Reaching the mountains of Gilead and their defiles, and not overtaken; Jacob might think the pursuit had not been undertaken, or if so, then abandoned. Evening of tenth day Laban and his band approach. Too exhausted by the march to bring matters to an issue at once. The two camps retired to rest. Night settles down on the hills of Gilead, and watch fires, &c. Probably it was this night that Laban had a wonderful vision, in which he was warned respecting his treatment of Jacob. From the nature of the vision it is plain how murderous his intentions were.

III. THE PARTING. Of Jacob and Laban.

1. The controversy between Laban and Jacob. Laban's charge against Jacob. Going by stealth. Leading his daughters as captives (comp. vers. 14, 15 with 26). Pretence of great affection (vers. 27, 28). Assertion of power. Acknowledgment of Divine interference. Charge of stealing the idols.

2. Jacob's reply. Tells the truth (ver. 31), but not all the truth (comp. vers. 1-16). Repudiates, sternly and prompt]y, the charge of carrying off the images.

3. The search for the idols, which are not found.

4. They set up a memorial pillar, and so part at Mizpah. The two camps remaining there another night, and travelling, east and west, early in the morning, to meet no more. Learn:

I. Be thankful for the domestic relations of life, and that ours do not demand our flight from home and kindred.

II. Jacob bore cruel usage for twenty years, and even then did not prepare for flight till God had given him the command.

III. The vision sent to Laban shows that God would have family meetings peaceably conducted, and those who have had unkind thoughts, He would have them lay them aside.

IV. Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the Great Reconciler.

(J. C. Gray.)

1. The Almighty God appears seasonably to stop the rage of cruel oppressors against His saints.

2. Night apparitions in dreams God can make to terrify wicked enemies from their purposes.

3. God warns envious spirits, that they look to themselves, if they oppress His saints.

4. God curbs the spirits of wicked men sometimes, and charges them not to speak an evil word to His people (ver. 24).

(G Hughes, B. D.)

1. It is no harm for the wicked to overtake the righteous, while they are curbed by God.

2. Providence may bring enemies near to His saints, and yet keep mischief far off from them.

3. God can cause the righteous to pitch near their oppressors, and yet secure them (ver. 25).

(G. Hughes, B. D. .)

1. The worst dealers are most apt to question others for their doings though good.

2. Violence questions innocency for escaping from its heart, though God call it.

3. The interrogatories of oppression pretend captivity of daughters, when they go freely (ver. 26).

4. Unreasonable oppressors require a reason of the innocent's escape, where there needs none to be rendered; it being apparent.

5. Injurious men are displeased when the righteous escape without their knowledge.

6. Hypocritical violence may pretend a free dismission of the righteous, which it never meant. Laban's music (ver. 27).

7. Unnatural fathers are apt to question others as causes of their unnaturalness to children.

8. Wicked and foolish men are very forward to charge the innocent with doing wickedly (ver. 28).

(G. Hughes, B. D. .)

1. It is the property of wicked oppressors to boast of their strength, which is more than they have.

2. Wicked injurious men boast that they can do mischief against the righteous (Psalm 52:1).

3. The hand of the wicked is ready to oppress the innocent, if God hinder not.

4. Wicked oppressors complain that God hinders them in their cruel designs.

5. The ungodly will not learn to own God, though they find Him too mighty for them.

6. Fear of self-destruction keeps oppressors from destroying saints.

7. God worshipped in truth by His, is stronger than God falsified by the wicked.

8. God maketh the wicked enemy confess His sovereignty sometimes against their will (Deuteronomy 31; Deuteronomy 32:29).

(G. Hughes, B. D. .)

1. Plain and ready answers become the saints against the charges of the wicked.

2. Just fear of violence is a just ground of the saints escaping it, under God's call.

3. God's call and saints' fear of dangers from men may well consist together.

4. Violent rapture of wives and children by cruel men may make the saints afraid of, and fly from it (ver. 31).

5. Holy souls abhor idols, and much more the covering of them.

6. Innocency is not afraid to put itself upon trial of life.

7. Plain honest hearts dare put themselves upon the search and judgment of their enemies.

8. Good fathers of families would have all with them innocent its themselves.

9. Good men may be too confident of the goodness of such as are under them.

10. Ignorance of other's hearts and actions makes men so rash and confident of them (ver. 32).

(G. Hughes, B. D. .)

1. False accusers of the saints are willing to turn every stone, to make good their charge upon them (ver. 33).

2. God in His wisdom useth the sins of one creature to frustrate the sin of others (ver. 31).

3. Sin once committed putteth souls upon more sin to conceal it.

4. Hypocrisy and lying is the way that sinners use to cover stealing.

5. God may bear with the iniquity of some to clear the innocency of others.

6. Such as seek occasion against the saints, God so orders, that they find it not (ver. 35).

(G. Hughes, B. D. .)


1. Jacob had sought by fraud, position and possession in his father's house. He is now an exile from his father's house — an outcast and a wanderer.

2. He who had defrauded Esau, is now himself defrauded by Laban.

3. He who had deceived his father was afterwards himself deceived by his sons.

4. Another form of retribution that awaited Jacob, was the having to encounter and deal with the brother whom he had so cruelly and foully wronged.

II. THE DISCIPLINARY CHARACTER OF THE RETRIBUTIONS THAT MARKED THE LIFE OF JACOB. We are slow to learn the lessons of a godly life by precept. God therefore teaches us them by experience. Jacob's character did certainly advance under the discipline.

1. At Haran he applied himself at once to honest industry, instead of having recourse to artifice and cunning.

2. A spirit of magnanimity marked many of his dealings with his uncle, contrasting favourably with his earlier indications of self-seeking.

(W. Roberts.)


1. His trials. And among these we should rank, as of the first importance, that he had been compelled by circumstances to dwell beyond the range of true piety, and to sojourn in an idolatrous land, and with an idolatrous family. Another of the trials to which Jacob was exposed, was the footing on which he stood in the family of Laban. The whole period had been to him a time of affliction; and, but for the favour of his God, this lengthened service, hard as it was, would have terminated in poverty. "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." Jacob had no reason to expect such treatment as this from a cousin and a father-in-law. A third trial which Jacob had to endure was, to a feeling mind, peculiarly severe. His attachment to Rachel appears to have been sincere and ardent. He could not, then, but feel deeply the deception that was practised upon him. Among Jacob's trials we must enumerate also many of the scenes of domestic life.

2. We come to notice Jacob's errors.

3. But we turn now to a more gratifying subject of consideration, when we notice, the personal piety of Jacob — the influence which, during twenty years of trial, his principles had upon his personal character.(1) With reference to his sobriety, excepting the error of polygamy, which was indirectly sanctioned, there is nothing on record against him. He was not guilty of any of that violence which had filled. the earth, or of those vices which were too general all around him.(2) With reference to the righteousness of his dealings with his fellow-men, he was zealous in the service of his master, moderate beyond measure in his requirements, and faithful in his engagements. He could appeal to Rachel and to Leah, "Ye know that, with all my power, I have served your father." And he had their testimony, and even that of Laban, to the faithfulness of his service.(3) Of his godliness there can be no question. It is manifest that he dwelt with God, and God with him. His habits were those of piety and communion with God; and even the language of Leah and of Rachel show that, by his influence, they were led to cultivate the same spirit. We are told that they prayed, and that God hearkened to them. "The God of my fathers hath been with me, God suffered him not to hurt me." "God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me." And again, "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 my affliction, and the labour of mine hands, and rebuked thee yesternight." And this view of Jacob's devotional habits is confirmed by the testimony of the sacred writer, that God really was with him.

II. But before we draw a practical conclusion from these things, there is another point on which we shall do well for a moment to delay. IT IS THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO HIS SERVANT. God had made a covenant with Jacob by promise; and when Jacob journeyed onward from Bethel, the promise of Divine favour rested upon him. Jacob was pious, because God was gracious. Jacob persevered, because God was faithful. His God had promised "to be with him, and to keep him in all places whither he should go"; and not one word failed of all that the Lord had spoken to him of. The secret agency of God's providence availed for his protection, and for his correction in righteousness. From this period, then, of the Patriarch's life, let us learn the wisdom of confiding ourselves to the care of the Almighty God. "He careth for us." You, then, who are only entering upon the world, or are now struggling with its cares and its temptations — who feel how difficult it is to walk humbly, circumspectly, and without offence — let the twenty years of Jacob's hard service teach you a useful lesson. The path of probity and rectitude is the path of honour, happiness, and success. It is not man, but God that you serve, and He will not forget you. At the same time this history will administer to you a salutary caution. You must not expect deliverance precisely when you wish it, nor in the way most satisfactory to yourself. Clouds may gather when you look for sunshine. Look to the covenant of His grace, and lean upon it, for "it shall not be moved"; and determine, that by His grace you will faithfully fulfil all the relative duties of life, however painful and distressing.

(E. Craig.)

1. Faithfulness in good servants makes them undergo day and night labours for the good of their rulers.

2. Heat and cold consumptions with restless nights will grace incline to endure to honour God in service.

3. Such faithful service is a testimony against the wrongs and injustice of cruel masters (ver. 40).

4. Unwearied doth grace make souls to be in the service to which they are called by God.

5. Faithfulness will not let a soul to take wages or receive good gratis.

6. The best service may be repaid with hardest measure from griping masters.

7. Good service will rise in judgment against the hard dealings of evil rulers (ver. 41).

8. Where man is injurious God Himself will plead for righteous servants.

9. The true God is known to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

10. Propriety in God and fear of Him is the best way of knowing God.

11. It is the design of wicked men to undo those in this world whom God doth own and will prosper in it.

12. God takes special notice of the sufferings and faithful doings of His servants towards wicked men.

13. God rebukes the envious and malicious spirit of cruel men against His righteous servants.

14. God's approbation of His own and reprehension of the wicked is a full defence against false charges or criminations (ver. 42).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Laban seeks to get God's blessing, as it were, at second-hand. If men could be related to God indirectly, as if in law and not by blood, that would suit Laban. If God would admit men to His inheritance on any other terms than being sons in the direct line, if there were some relationship once removed, a kind of sons-in-law, so that mere connection with the godly, though not with God, would win His blessing, this would suit Laban. Laban is the man who appreciates the social value of virtue, truthfulness, fidelity, temperance, godliness, but wishes to enjoy their fruits without the pain of cultivating the qualities themselves. He is scrupulous as to the character of those he takes into his employment, and seeks to connect himself in business with good men. In his domestic life he acts on the idea which his experience has suggested to him, that persons really godly will make his home more peaceful, better regulated, safer than otherwise it might be. If he holds a position of authority, he knows how to make use, for the preservation of order and for the promotion of his own ends, of the voluntary efforts of Christian societies, of the trustworthiness of Christian officials, and of the support of the Christian community. But with all this recognition of the reality and influence of godliness, he never for one moment entertains the idea of himself becoming a godly man. In all ages there are Labans who clearly recognize the utility and worth of a connection with God, who have been much mixed up with persons in whom that worth was very conspicuous, and who yet, at the last, "depart and return unto their place," like Jacob's father-in-law, without having themselves entered into any affectionate relations with God.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Aram, Isaac, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Nahor, Rachel
Canaan, Euphrates River, Galeed, Gilead, Jegar-sahadutha, Mizpah, Paddan-aram
Affliction, Empty, Empty-handed, Except, Fear, Hadst, Handed, Hands, Hardship, Isaac, Judged, Judgment, Kept, Labor, Labour, Nothing, Rebuked, Rendered, Reproveth, Surely, Toil, Troubles, Unless, Wouldest, Yesternight
1. Jacob, displeased with the envy of Laban and his sons, departs secretly.
19. Rachel steals her father's household gods.
22. Laban pursues after him, and complains of the wrong.
34. Rachel's plan to hide the images.
36. Jacob's complaint of Laban.
43. The covenant of Laban and Jacob at Galeed.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 31:42

     1245   God of the fathers
     5156   hand

Genesis 31:36-42

     5095   Jacob, life
     8716   dishonesty, examples

Genesis 31:38-42

     5569   suffering, hardship

Genesis 31:39-42

     5685   fathers, responsibilities

Genesis 31:40-42

     5523   servants, good

Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Appendix xvi. On the Jewish views About Demons' and the Demonised,' Together with Some Notes on the Intercourse Between Jews and Jewish Christians in the First Centuries.
IT is not, of course, our purpose here to attempt an exhaustive account of the Jewish views on demons' and the demonised.' A few preliminary strictures were, however, necessary on a work upon which writers on this subject have too implictly relied. I refer to Gfrörer's Jahrhundert des Heils (especially vol. i. pp. 378-424). Gfrörer sets out by quoting a passage in the Book of Enoch on which he lays great stress, but which critical inquiries of Dillmann and other scholars have shown to be
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

How the Rude in Sacred Learning, and those who are Learned but not Humble, are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 25.) Differently to be admonished are those who do not understand aright the words of the sacred Law, and those who understand them indeed aright, but speak them not humbly. For those who understand not aright the words of sacred Law are to be admonished to consider that they turn for themselves a most wholesome drought of wine into a cup of poison, and with a medicinal knife inflict on themselves a mortal wound, when they destroy in themselves what was sound by that whereby they ought,
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Epistle Xlix. To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch .
To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch [35] . Gregory to Anastasius, &c. I received the letters of thy Fraternity, rightly holding fast the profession of the faith; and I returned great thanks to Almighty God, who, when the shepherds of His flock are changed, still, even after such change, guards the faith which He once delivered to the holy Fathers. Now the excellent preacher says, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. iii. 2). Whosoever, then, with love of
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

The Great Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. I t is not easy for those, whose habits of life are insensibly formed by the customs of modern times, to conceive any adequate idea of the pastoral life, as obtained in the eastern countries, before that simplicity of manners, which characterized the early ages, was corrupted, by the artificial and false refinements of luxury. Wealth, in those
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

And He had Also this Favour Granted Him. ...
66. And he had also this favour granted him. For as he was sitting alone on the mountain, if ever he was in perplexity in his meditations, this was revealed to him by Providence in prayer. And the happy man, as it is written, was taught of God [1112] . After this, when he once had a discussion with certain men who had come to him concerning the state of the soul and of what nature its place will be after this life, the following night one from above called him, saying, Antony, rise, go out and look.'
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

A Treatise of the Fear of God;
SHOWING WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO. ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS. London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"--the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Meditations for the Morning.
1. Almighty God can, in the resurrection, as easily raise up thy body out of the grave, from the sleep of death, as he hath this morning wakened thee in thy bed, out of the sleep of nature. At the dawning of which resurrection day, Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints; and every one of the bodies of the thousands of his saints, being fashioned like unto his glorious body, shall shine as bright as the sun (2 Thess. i. 10; Jude, ver. 14; Phil. iii. 21; Luke ix. 31;) all the angels shining
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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