Summary of passage: Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth. The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland. Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.
Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once. Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance. Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan. Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban. They crossed the Euphrates.
Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled. He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead. God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.
Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols may they die.
Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him. Laban found nothing.
Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing. He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.
So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other. They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.
11a) The Lord told him it was time to go.
b) 20 years (verse 38 & 41)
12a) Verse 5 (the God of my father has been with me), Verse 7 (God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me, Verse 9 (God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me), Verse 12 (I–God–have seen all that Laban has been doing to you)
b) With Laban and Abimelech, the un-Godly ones (yes, I’m calling Laban un-Godly since he’s throwing such a fit about his stupid idols missing) approached the patriarchs and set the terms of the treaty/covenant. Both knew God was with Jacob and Isaac and decided to move preemptively to protect themselves. Both treaties stated one was not to harm the other. Then they feasted, swore, and went on their merry way.
In terms of Jacob and Jesus, both were being pursued and both submitted to God’s will for their lives. Jacob was told it was time to move back to Canaan. Jesus was told it was time to die for our sins. Both were being falsely accused (Rachel was the perpetrator, not Jacob). Both sought God in the process.
c) Verses 5, 7, 9, 12, 42
13a) Hebrews says to endure hardship as discipline, which Jacob did. He endured sweltering days and freezing cold nights out in the elements as he cared for the flocks. He absorbed all the animals’ losses as his own and endured Laban’s mistreatments. Jacob worked hard and was blessed. He put his faith in God to care for him and bless him and the Lord did. He received all he had set out for (a wife basically) and much more (two wives and flocks).
Of course, Jacob failed miserably in the wife department. But his faith grew in God, which I believe was God’s intent, through the hardships.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Verse 42. God has seen my hardship and rebukes the persecutors of such. Verse 7. God has not allowed them to harm me. Verse 11. God has seen all that has happened.
Conclusions: It’s important to remember that God is with us in the difficult times and that He uses ALL things for our good (Romans 8:28). We will be blessed for we are His. Jacob is not personally afraid. He is afraid he’ll lose his family (as we all). But Jacob has faith in God to protect him and do His will through him. That is what we must remember. God is working through us even if we can’t see it and don’t know why we have to go through something. It will work for our good.
End Notes: This is the last we will hear of Laban in the Bible. As we see, he is a pompous bully who only half-believed in the Lord. He used his idols for divination. He is exceedingly jealous of God’s blessing upon Jacob. It is all about him.
Why did Rachel steal the idols? The Bible never tells us why. Scholars give many different speculative reasons: she didn’t want her father to have them in order to use them for divination to find them. She was getting back at her father for the many years of mistreating them. She wanted them for herself for she worshipped them. And the Jews usually say she took them to keep her father from sinning into idolatry.
You can also glean a nugget here of a healthy separation from your in-laws who may unduly influence you.
Most fascinating to me was that nowhere in this passage of praising God does Jacob ever say “God is MY God.”
One thought on “BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 5: Genesis 31”
Atozmom, Thank You for your Holy Spirit inspired analysis of BSF questions! I would like to add that maybe Rachel took the idols from Laban out of spite b/c they were obviously more important to him than his daughters were.