Jacob Runs from Laban
1Jacob heard that Laban's sons were complaining, “Jacob is now a rich man, and he got everything he owns from our father.” 2Jacob also noticed that Laban was not as friendly as he had been before. 3One day the Lord said, “Jacob, go back to your relatives in the land of your ancestors, and I will be with you.”
4Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to meet him in the pasture where he kept his sheep, 5and he told them:
Your father isn't as friendly with me as he used to be, but the God my ancestors worshiped has been on my side. 6You know that I have worked hard for your father 7and that he keeps cheating me by changing my wages time after time. But God has protected me. 8When your father said the speckled sheep would be my wages, all of them were speckled. And when he said the spotted ones would be mine, all of them were spotted. 9That's how God has taken sheep and goats from your father and given them to me.
10Once, when the flocks were mating, I dreamed that all the rams were either spotted or speckled. 11Then God's angel called me by name. I answered, 12and he said, “Notice that all the rams are either spotted or speckled. I know everything Laban is doing to you, 13 and I am the God you worshiped at Bethel, when you poured olive oil on a rock and made a promise to me. Leave here at once and return to the land where you were born.”
14Rachel and Leah said to Jacob:
There's nothing left for us to inherit from our father. 15He treats us like foreigners and has even cheated us out of the bride price that should have been ours. 16So do whatever God tells you to do. Even the property God took from our father and gave to you really belongs to us and our children.
17Then Jacob, his wives, and his children got on camels and left 18northern Syria for the home of his father Isaac in Canaan. Jacob took along all his flocks, herds, and other property.
19Before Rachel left, she stole the household idols while Laban was out shearing his sheep.
20Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean by not saying that he intended to leave. 21When Jacob crossed the Euphrates River and headed for the hill country of Gilead, he took with him everything he owned.
Through ingenuity, hard work and divine blessing Jacob is exceedingly prosperous (Genesis 30:25-43). This prosperity arises within a clear arrangement that Jacob had made with Laban to compensate for years of service. Nonetheless family intrigue is stirred up again as Jacob’s cousins begin to murmur that Jacob has taken advantage of their father. Jacob observes Laban was not as friendly as he had been before.(v 1-2).
Now that Jacob is materially cared for, the Lord speaks to him and indicates it is time to head back to his homeland. The promise that the Lord is with Jacob is reinforced. Jacob invites Rachel and Leah out to the fields to explain the upcoming move. Up to this time they had only known the security of living in proximity to their home. Jacob’s explanation was intended to convince them that he had received clear instruction from God both in how to see his flocks increase and in the fact that they had to leave at once (vv 3-13).
Rachel and Leah in an unusual display of unity agree to do whatever God has told him to do. An ingredient in their responsiveness to Jacob is their evident bitterness towards their father. They feel that they have been cheated out of their inheritances and treated as foreigners. They were sold like an object by their father and then he used up what had been paid for them. These are daughters who have experienced abandonment and rejection leading to deep wounds (vv 14-16).
Unfortunately this scenario is not unusual in the human story. It also explains why God who puts the abandoned in families continually intervenes to ensure that he has a people where the lonely and oppressed can belong (Psalm 68:6a).
With his wives in agreement Jacob assembles his entourage and prepares to head south towards Canaan and a reunion with his father. The journey begins with two additional acts of deception. Rachel steals her father’s household gods that he used in divination (30:27) and Jacob does not tell Laban that the family is leaving. The deceptive DNA of the family continues.
God of blessing, you are faithful to supply all our needs. Help us to deal with the two-sided nature of the prosperity many of us experience, so that we may remember you as the source of every good and perfect gift, and bless others as we have been blessed, in the name of the One who gave himself for us, Amen.