Laban pursues Jacob (Gen 31:22-Gen 31:42)

“On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled.  So he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead.  But 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.’”

Three days after Jacob had left, Laban found out about his departure and spent seven days chasing him until he caught up with him at Gilead, the hill country east of the Jordan.  However, God appeared to him in a dream and told not to say a good or bad word to Jacob.

“Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen encamped in the hill country of Gilead.  Laban said to Jacob, ‘What have you done?  You have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword.  Why 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.  Why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell?  What you have done is foolish.  It 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.’  Even though you had to go because you longed greatly for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?’  Jacob answered Laban, ‘Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.  But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen, point out what I have that is yours, and take it.’ Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.”

Nevertheless, Laban went to Jacob and accused him of stealing his daughters.  Why are you sneaking away when I would have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre.’  Laban called Jacob foolish and asked why he had stolen his gods.  Jacob responded that he feared that Laban would take his daughters by force. He also said that whoever stole his gods will not live, since Jacob did not know that Rachel took the gods.

“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.  He went out of Leah’s tent, and entered Rachel’s tent.  Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat upon them.  Laban felt all about in the tent, but did not find them.  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.

Laban searched the tents and could not find them because Rachel had put them in the saddle of the camel that she was sitting on.  She said that she could not get off the camel because ‘the way of women is upon me.’

“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?  Although you have felt through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods?  Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, so that they may decide between us two.  These 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.  That 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.  It was like this with me.  By day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.  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.  If 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.’”

Then Jacob became angry towards Laban and let him know that he was not pleased.  Laban had searched all his goods and found nothing.  Jacob had worked for Laban, day and night, over 20 years, to gain his daughters and his flock, as Laban changed his wages ten times.  Jacob justified his leaving by talking about the 20 years he had spent there working for Laban.  God was on his side. ‘If the God of Abraham and Isaac had not been on my side, surely you would have sent me away empty- handed.’

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