Jacob runs away from Laban
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
And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward
him as before.
(31:1-2) Laban is angry at Jacob for taking his cattle.
And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to
thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,
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.
(31:3) God speaks directly to Jacob, telling him to go home.
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.
(31:13) The angel in the dream identifies himself as "the God of Bethel" and tells Jacob to go home.
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.
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.
(31:17-18) Jacob and his wives begin their journey to Canaan. (Without saying goodbye to Laban)
(31:17) Jacob had four wives (or two wives and two concubines -- the distinction is not clear in the Bible):
Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah. There is no indication that God disapproves of this arrangement.
Is polygamy OK?
What the Bible says about polygamy
(31:17) Domesticated camels
at the time Jacob supposedly lived.
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.
Laban catches up to Jacob
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.
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.
Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount:
and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.
(31:22-24) Three days after Jacob and his family had left, Laban found out about it. He chased after
them and caught up with them seven days later.
During the chase, God told Laban in a dream not to say anything, good or bad, about Jacob.
Dreams: God's Warning to Laban
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
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.
(31:26-28) Laban asked Jacob, "Why'd you run away with my daughters without telling me about it? I'd have thrown a
going away party, if I knew you were leaving. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to them!"
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.
And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst
after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?
(31:29) Laban says he could (and probably should) punish Jacob for taking his stuff,
but he won't since the God of Jabob's father visited him in a dream and told him not to say anything good or bad to Jacob.
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.
(31:31) Jacob answered saying he was afraid Laban would take his daughters away from him.
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.
(31:33-34) Laban seaches for the stolen images.
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
(31:35) I cannot rise up before thee;
for the custom of women is upon me.
Rachel, who is mensturating, sits on the hidden images. (Knowing that her father won't then dare to
look under her seat)
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
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
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.
(31:36-42) Jacob was angry, said, "What have I done wrong? Why are you chasing after me?"
"You have searched all my stuff and found nothing. For twenty years I've served you: fourteen years for your daughters
and six years for your cattle. And you've changed my wages ten times. Even God told you last night not to bother me."
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?
(31:43) Laban answered, "These are my daughters, my children, and my cattle. Everything you see is mine."
Laban and Jacob reach an agreement.
(And set up a heap of stones as a witness.)
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.
(31:45-52) Behold this heap.
Laban and Jacob set up a heap of stones to witness their agreement. Neither side may pass over the heap.
(31:45-46) Jacob took a stone and made a pillar, and all the people gathered stones to make a heap.
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.
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
(31:48) Laban said, "This heap is a witness."
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.
(31:51) Laban said, "Behold this heap."
(31:52) "This heap be witness. I won't pass over this heap to you, and you won't pass over this heap to me."
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.
(31:53) Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.
Jacob swears. God doesn't seem to mind.
Is swearing OK?
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.
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
(31:54-55) Jacob offered a sacrifice. The next morning, Laban kissed his daughters and grandkids, and left for home.