Genesis 31

Genesis 31 has Jacob getting nervous.  “Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth”.  The rumor mill was flying, and “Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before”.  He’s been there serving Laban for 20 years by now, and yet it doesn’t seem he has been able to create his own destiny.  “The Lord said to Jacob, Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you”.  Time to pack up and get out of town.  So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was.

He tells them “You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times”.  While these two women – Jacob’s wives – may not have gotten along very well much of the time he was smart enough to know that when it was him against their father he needed to communicate very well.  So he carefully tells the story and what God has told him to do.  They agree and tell him “now then, whatever God has said to you, do”.  That had to be a relief.  So “Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee”.

They take off and get a three day head start before Laban figures out what has happened.  Laban and his boys take off to catch Jacob.  As he does, he asks “Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre”?  That wasn’t really what he had intended to ask, but God had appeared to him in a dream and told him to leave Jacob alone.  Jacob tells his side of the story – this time to Laban.  “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”.  And Jacob knows that “God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night”.  He knows he is walking in God’s protection.

So Laban figures out that if he can’t beat Jacob, he should join him.  “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight”.  They decide to form a covenant together, and put up a pillar to signify the spot.  “This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm”.  It was a dividing line of sorts, and created the foundation for them to live peaceably together.  They agree on the future and how to live together.  “Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home”.

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