Summary of Genesis 31:
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.
Summary of Hebrews 12:3-15:
The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline for God is treating you as a son. For if you are not disciplines then you are not sons of God. Everyone is disciplined. God disciplines us for our good so we may share in His holiness.
Discipline is never pleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Make every effort to live in peace and be holy; without holiness, no one sees the Lord. Do not be bitter.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
11) Jacob had noticed that Laban’s sons believed he had stolen Laban’s wealth, and Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed, too. But it was God who told Jacob to return.
12a) ) Verse 7 “God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me.” verse 9 “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.” Verse 11-13 “I am the God of Bethel” and God made the animals born spotted. verse 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you (Laban) would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” They made a covenant together that resolved the bitterness.
b) Pray and thank God.
13) Verse 3 “And I will be with you.” Verse 42: But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. It encourages me that all my work is worth it, and God is with me.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
Unsure whey we read Hebrews here since we weren’t asked about it. Rachel is most definitely smart in hiding the idols. However, taking them? Not so smart. She has God. She needs nothing else.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
God is nudging Jacob back home (Genesis 30:25) and encouraging him, too.
God reminds Jacob of his Bethel (Genesis 28:10), where God has spurred him on to find Rachel. It’s good for all of us to remember times and places where God has shown up. This strengthens us and encourages us in times we feel God is far away.
It was important for Jacob to have the support of his wives. After all, they would be leaving their family for the first time ever, taking their kids with them, to an unknown land. Both women agreed for once and were ready to help in any way they could.
One cool detail you might have missed is that Jacob’s entire family road camels. This is like saying everyone drove their own car here in the US. It’s a sign of Jacob’s immense wealth.
Jacob snuck away when he did not need to. God had already told him to go. It’s evident he would be protected. Perhaps Jacob is so mad at Laban at this point he just wanted to leave.
Rachel Steals her Father’s Idols
We are not told why Rachel stole the idols. Obviously, you should not steal, especially from your mother and father (she broke two of God’s ten commandments here yet to be given to Moses). Scholars debate the reasons:
- She herself secretly worshipped these idols
- She didn’t want her father to worship these idols
- She didn’t want her father to catch them through divination
- Idols were traditionally used as deeds to property
- She didn’t like her father, so she took something of his to anger him
- She wanted protection on the long journey
The reason didn’t matter. She stole; this is wrong.
They left Paddan Aram and Haran for Gilead, which is about 300 miles away and close to the sea of Galilee. Since it took 3 days for Laban to notice, the families must have lived a considerable distance away from one another. Note that God cautions Laban to deal fairly with Jacob. Laban was probably angry and did intend to harm him. God’s warning meant “you touch him and you will pay.”
Jacob and Home
Jacob is close to home when Laban catches up. It took Laban 7 days to catch up to Jacob who is now near the Jordan River and very close to home. Laban tried to shame him with a celebration and a chance to say good bye to his family. He threatens harm as well. Jacob fervently denies he stole the idols, not knowing Rachel had.
Jacob let Laban have it, citing all he had done for him in 20 years and showing him how ungrateful he was being. He was angry over it all, maybe even remembering the trickery of Leah. He helped Laban. Jacob replaced any lost animal of Laban’s with his own and tells him that God sent him away.
Note that Jacob does not claim God as his own, only Abraham and Isaac’s.
Mizpah meant God is watching and He will repay you if you sin. Laban still claims everything is his, but says he’ll let Jacob have it. The pillar was a sign of their separation. It appears they still left with much animosity between them. From here on out, Jacob’s family will be separated from everyone else.
Laban will never see his daughters or grandchildren again. He now disappears from Bible history, presumably returning home and living out his life as he always had. The separation between Laban and Jacob had to happen. Like this example shows us, it is not always pretty.