Archive for July 5th, 2011

Genesis 31

Genesis 31 is the story of Jacob splitting from the place he had been the last 20 years to head back home to the land of his father.  Laban has been playing games with Jacob pretty much since he arrived.  The rules have changed multiple times – and Jacob has spent a long time trying to meet the requirements of Laban.   But God says enough is enough – “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred”.  Time to head back home.  So Jacob goes to Leah and Rachel and tells them his intention.  They could have reacted with the normal response – ‘you want to do what’?  But they don’t – they say “Now then, whatever God has said to you, do”. 

Interesting that they gave him a joint answer together.  Two women who were at odds seem to now share a common support of his plan.  Jacob rounds things up and heads out.  Laban finds out a few days later and comes after him.  They chase him for some days and along the way God warns Laban this way: “God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad”.  Laban and his men do catch up – but are on a very different path now that God has intervened.  Their plan of capturing the flocks, and family, have been changed by God’s word to him.  Laban does confront Jacob and ask why this is his response.

Jacob has his speech ready and lets it fly: “These 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”.  Pretty compelling reason to leave isn’t it.  Jacob has worked for 20 years to get two wives and some sheep.  And during the process Laban has changed the game numerous times.  Each time Jacob has gone along with him – but his patience has worn thin.  Now he has left for home.  More importantly, Jacob knows that God is on his side.  “God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night”.  Jacob is pretty confident of his plan. God gave it to him and he is walking right in the middle of God’s will.

But Laban wants to salvage as much as he can.  So he suggests a covenant between the two.  “They took stones and made a heap” to mark the spot and remind everyone what they agreed to that day.  Laban insists that Jacob be faithful to his daughters as Jacob’s wives.  They also agree not to go beyond those stones in violence toward each other.  They are going to live in peace with one another.  “Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home”.  He had tracked down his girls and said his good byes and heads home.  Potential disaster averted!

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