Genesis 31: Jacob Leaves without Saying Goodbye

How many sons do you think Laban had? Why?

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Genesis 31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining that he had become rich at their father’s expense.
King James
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.

How did Jacob hear about Laban’s son’s complaints? Were their complaints justified? Why?

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Genesis 31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining that he had become rich at their father’s expense.
King James
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.

What caused Laban’s change in behavior toward Jacob?

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Genesis 31:2 He saw that Laban’s appearance and behavior toward him had changed.
King James
Genesis 31:2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.

In what manner did the Lord speak to Jacob?

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Genesis 31:3 The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives there. I will go with you.”
King James
Genesis 31:3 And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Why didn’t Jacob go to Rachel and Leah instead of having them come to see him in the field?

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Genesis 31:4 Jacob sent word for Rachel and Leah to come to the field where his flocks were.
King James
Genesis 31:4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,

Why were Rachel and Leah so willing to leave with Jacob?

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Genesis 31:5–16 “Your father’s attitude toward me is not what it used to be,” he said. “The God of my ancestors has been with me. You know how hard I have worked in serving your father. He tried to cheat me, changing my wages ten times, but God kept me from harm. If he said just the spotted would be my wages, then the flocks gave birth to spotted. If he said the streaked would be my wages, then the flocks gave birth to streaked. That’s how God gave your father’s livestock to me.
“During the mating season, I saw in a dream that the males were streaked, spotted, or discolored. God’s angel in the dream called my name, and I said, ‘Yes, what do you want?’ ‘Look and see that only the streaked, spotted, or discolored males are mating,’ the angel said, ‘I have seen how Laban has treated you. I am God, the one who appeared to you at Bethel, where you made a vow to me. Now leave here and go to your homeland.’”
Rachel and Leah said, “Our father has nothing for us to inherit. Are we not like foreigners ourselves, for he sold us and spent the money. All the riches that God has taken from our father belong to us and our children. Do what God has told you to do.”
King James
Genesis 31:5–16 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked. Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled. And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.
And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

Over how many years had Laban changed Jacob’s wages ten times?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 31:5–16 “Your father’s attitude toward me is not what it used to be,” he said. “The God of my ancestors has been with me. You know how hard I have worked in serving your father. He tried to cheat me, changing my wages ten times, but God kept me from harm. If he said just the spotted would be my wages, then the flocks gave birth to spotted. If he said the streaked would be my wages, then the flocks gave birth to streaked. That’s how God gave your father’s livestock to me.
“During the mating season, I saw in a dream that the males were streaked, spotted, or discolored. God’s angel in the dream called my name, and I said, ‘Yes, what do you want?’ ‘Look and see that only the streaked, spotted, or discolored males are mating,’ the angel said, ‘I have seen how Laban has treated you. I am God, the one who appeared to you at Bethel, where you made a vow to me. Now leave here and go to your homeland.’”
Rachel and Leah said, “Our father has nothing for us to inherit. Are we not like foreigners ourselves, for he sold us and spent the money. All the riches that God has taken from our father belong to us and our children. Do what God has told you to do.”
King James
Genesis 31:5–16 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked. Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled. And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.
And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

Why did Laban not learn of Jacob’s departure until after three days?

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Genesis 31:17–22 Jacob immediately put his wives and children on the camels. He took everything he had gained in Mesopotamia, all his livestock and goods, and headed for Canaan and the home of his father, Isaac.
While Laban had been out to shear his sheep, Rachel had stolen the idols from his house. Jacob slipped away without telling Laban that he was leaving. Taking everything he had, Jacob crossed the river and headed toward the mountains of Gilead.
Three days later, Laban learned that Jacob was gone.
King James
Genesis 31:17–22 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; 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. And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s. And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. 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. And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.

If Jacob had three days’ head start, and Laban caught up with him in another seven days, how much faster did Laban have to travel? Is it reasonable that Jacob could move his family with all their possessions and animals over 400 miles in ten days, and then Laban matched that distance in seven days? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 31:22–23 Three days later, Laban learned that Jacob was gone. Accompanied by some of his brethren, he pursued Jacob for seven days and finally caught up with him at the Gilead mountains.
Genesis 33:13 “You know, sir, that my children are young,” Jacob said, “and the flocks and herds have their young too. If they are driven too hard in a day, some of the animals might die.”
King James
Genesis 31:22–23 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
Genesis 33:13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

In what form did God appear to Laban? Do you think this was the first time God had appeared to him? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 31:24 That night, God appeared to him in a dream. “Be careful that you say nothing good or bad,” God said.
King James
Genesis 31:24 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.

How far away was Laban’s camp from Jacob’s?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 31:25 Laban and his brethren camped in the same Gilead mountain country where Jacob was.
King James
Genesis 31:25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.

What would Laban have done if God hadn’t spoken to him?

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Genesis 31:26–29 “What is this?” Laban said to Jacob. “You leave without saying anything, carrying my daughters away like captives taken with swords. Why did you sneak off without telling me? I would have thrown a huge going-away celebration with joyful singing with tambourines and harps. You never gave me a chance to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren goodbye. That wasn’t very smart.
“I could have attacked and harmed you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak to Jacob anything good or bad.’”
King James
Genesis 31:26–29 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? 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? And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. 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.

Why was Laban concerned about his stolen idols? Why did he suspect Jacob or someone in Jacob’s household?

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Genesis 31:30 “I can understand your desire to return to your father’s house, but why did you have to steal my idols?”
King James
Genesis 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?

How convinced was Jacob that no one in his household could have stolen Laban’s idols?

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Genesis 31:31–32 “I was afraid to tell you I was leaving,” Jacob said. “I thought you might take your daughters away from me. As for your idols, if you find them anywhere in my household, let the person who took them die.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them.
King James
Genesis 31:31–32 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me. 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.

What would Laban have done if he had found his idols? After not finding them, did he replace them? How? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 31:33–35 First, Laban went to Jacob’s tent. Then he searched Leah’s and the two servant women’s tents. Not finding them there, he went to Rachel’s tent.
Rachel had put the idols in the camel saddle and was sitting on the saddle while Laban searched the tent and found nothing. “Please forgive me, Father, for it’s that time of the month for women, and I cannot stand.”
So with all his searching, Laban could not find his idols.
King James
Genesis 31:33–35 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. 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. 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.

Was Jacob justified in confronting Laban? Why?

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Genesis 31:36–42 Jacob became angry and confronted Laban. “What is my crime? What have I done wrong that you have pursued me like a criminal? After searching everywhere, what have you found that belongs to you? Put it here for everyone to see so people can judge who has done wrong. For twenty years, I have worked for you, caring for your flocks. Your sheep and goats never miscarried, nor have I ever taken a ram from your flock to be eaten.
“If wild beasts killed an animal, no matter whether it was taken by day or by night, I replaced it from my own flock, because that’s what you required. During hot dry days and cold frosty nights, guarding your flocks kept me from sleeping. In the twenty years in your household, I served fourteen years for your two daughters and six years tending your flocks. You changed my wages ten times.
“Had the God of Abraham and Isaac not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my misery and how hard I worked, so he rebuked you last night.”
King James
Genesis 31:36–42 And Jacob was wroth, and chode 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? 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. 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. 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. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. 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. 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.

What kind of claim did Laban have over all that Jacob possessed?

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Genesis 31:43 “These daughters are mine,” Laban said. “These children are mine. The livestock is mine. All you see came from me, but what can I do about my daughters and their children?”
King James
Genesis 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?

Of what value are witnesses to an agreement?

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Genesis 31:44–49 Come, let’s make a certified agreement that everyone can see.”
Jacob took a stone and set it on end. “Gather more stones,” Jacob said to his brethren.
Upon the heap of stones, Jacob and Laban ate together.
Laban called it the place of record, and Jacob called it the witness monument.
“Today,” Laban said, “this place is a witness of our agreement.” Therefore, it was called Galeed. It was also called Mizpah, meaning “watchtower,” because Laban said, “May the Lord watch over us when we are apart.”
King James
Genesis 31:44–49 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap. And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.
And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; And Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

Why is God important as a witness? How is he so easily ignored?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 31:50–54 Laban said, “If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, I might not know, but God does. He witnesses what you and I do.
“Look at this heap of stones, this monument we have set up between us. It stands as our witness that neither of us will cross over to harm the other.”
Swearing by his father, Isaac, Jacob said, “May the God of Abraham and Nahor and the God of their father, Terah, be our judge.”
He offered a sacrifice on the mountain, called his brethren to eat bread, and spent the night there.
King James
Genesis 31:50–54 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. And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; 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. 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. 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.

From the time he arrived to the time he left, how might Laban’s attitude toward his daughters have changed? How about toward Jacob?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 31:55 Early the next morning, Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren goodbye. After blessing them, he left for home.
King James
Genesis 31:55 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.