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Jacob Flees with Family and Flocks


Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him as favorably as he did before. 3Then the L ord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was, 5and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me as favorably as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength; 7yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me.

10 “During the mating of the flock I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats that leaped upon the flock were striped, speckled, and mottled. 11Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the goats that leap on the flock are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and return to the land of your birth.’ ” 14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? 15Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has been using up the money given for us. 16All the property that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.”

17 So Jacob arose, and set his children and his wives on camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock, all the property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. 21So he fled with all that he had; starting out he crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

Laban Overtakes Jacob

22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his kinsfolk with him and pursued him for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, “Take heed that you say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25 Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsfolk camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword. 27Why did you flee secretly and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre. 28And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? What you have done is foolish. 29It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Take heed that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30Even though you had to go because you longed greatly for your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?” 31Jacob answered Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsfolk, point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah’s tent, and entered Rachel’s. 34Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt all about in the tent, but did not find them. 35And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched, but did not find the household gods.

36 Then Jacob became angry, and upbraided Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37Although you have felt about through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsfolk and your kinsfolk, so that they may decide between us two. 38These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39That which was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself; of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40It was like this with me: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”

Laban and Jacob Make a Covenant

43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne? 44Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be a witness between you and me.” 45So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar. 46And Jacob said to his kinsfolk, “Gather stones,” and they took stones, and made a heap; and they ate there by the heap. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. 48Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he called it Galeed, 49and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, “The L ord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other. 50If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.”

51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor”—the God of their father—“judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54and Jacob offered a sacrifice on the height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread; and they ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.

55 Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them; then he departed and returned home.

1. And he heard the words. Although Jacob ardently desired his own country, and was continually thinking of his return to it; yet his admirable patience appears in this, that he suspends his purpose till a new occasion presents itself. I do not, however, deny, that some imperfection was mixed with this virtue, in that he did not make more haste to return; but that the promise of God was always retained its his mind will shortly appear. In this respect, however, he showed something of human nature, that for the sake of obtaining wealth he postponed his return for six years: for when Laban was perpetually changing his terms, he might justly have bidden him farewell. But that he was detained by force and fear together, we infer from his clandestine flight. Now, at least, he has a sufficient cause for asking his dismissal; because his riches had become grievous and hateful to the sons of Laban: nevertheless he does not dare openly to withdraw himself from their enmity, but is compelled to flee secretly. Yet though his tardiness is in some degree excusable, it was probably connected with indolence; even as the faithful, when they direct their course towards God, often do not pursue it with becoming fervor. Wherefore, whenever the indolence of the flesh retards us, let us learn to fan the ardor of our spirits into a flame. There is no doubt that the Lord corrected the infirmity of his servant, and gently spurred him on as he proceeded in his course. For if Laban had treated him kindly and pleasantly, his mind would have been lulled to sleep; but now he is driven away by adverse looks. So the Lord often better secures the salvation of his people, by subjecting them to the hatred, the envy, and the malevolence of the wicked, than by suffering them to be soothed with bland address. It was far more useful to holy Jacob to have his father-in-law and his sons opposed, than to have them courteously obsequious to his wishes; because their favor might have deprived him of the blessing of God. We also have more than sufficient experience of the power of earthly attractions, and of the ease with which, when they abound, the oblivion of celestial blessings steals over us. Wherefore let us not think it hard to be awakened by the Lord, when we fall into adversity, or receive but little favor from the world; for hatred, threats, disgrace, and slanders, are often more advantageous to us than the applause of all men on every side. Moreover, we must notice the inhumanity of Laban’s sons, who complain throughout as if they had been plundered by Jacob. But sordid and avaricious men labor under the disease of thinking that they are robbed of everything with which they do not gorge themselves. For since their avarice is insatiable, it follows of necessity that the prosperity of others torments them, as if they themselves would be thereby reduced to want. They do not consider whether Jacob acquired this great wealth justly or unjustly; but they are enraged and envious, because they conceive that so much has been abstracted from them. Laban had before confessed, that he had been enriched by the coming of Jacob, and even that he had been blessed by the Lord for Jacob’s sake; but now his sons murmur, and he himself is tortured with grief, to find that Jacob also is made a partaker of the same blessing. Hence we perceive the blindness of avarice which can never be satisfied. Whence also it is called by Paul the root of all evil; because they who desire to swallow up everything must be perfidious, and cruel, and ungrateful, and in every way unjust. Besides, it is to be observed that the sons of Laban, in the impetuosity of their younger years, give vent to their vexation; but the father, like a cunning old fox, is silent, yet betrays his wickedness by his countenance.

3. And the Lord said unto Jacob. The timidity of the holy man is here more plainly seen; for he, perceiving that evil was designed against him by his father-in-law, still dared not to move a foot, unless encouraged by a new oracle. But the Lord, who, by facts, had shown him already that no longer delay was to be made, now also urges him by words. Let us learn from this example, that although the Lord may incite us to duty by adversity, yet we shall thereby profit little, unless the stimulus of the word be added. And we see what will happen to the reprobate; for either they become stupefied in their wickedness, or they break out into fury. Wherefore, that the instruction conveyed by outward things may profit us, we must ask the Lord to shine upon us in his own word. The design, however, of Moses chiefly refers to this point, that we may know that Jacob returned to his own country, under the special guidance of God. Now the land of Canaan is called the land of Abraham and Isaac, not because they had sprung from it; but because it had been divinely promised to them as their inheritance. Wherefore, by this voice the holy man was admonished, that although Isaac had been a stranger, yet, in the sight of God, he was the heir and lord of that land, in which he possessed nothing but a sepulcher.

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