New European Version: Old Testament

Deeper commentary on this chapter

Audio talks on this chapter:


Video presentations on this chapter:


Other material relevant to this chapter:

Jacob And The God Of His Father: Christians And Parental Expectation

Hear this chapter read:



About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

CHAPTER 31 Jan. 18 
Jacob’s Family Escape from Laban 
He heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s. From that which was our father’s, has he gotten all this wealth. 2Jacob saw the expression on Laban’s face, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. 3Yahweh said to Jacob, Return to the land of your fathers, and to your relatives, and I will be with you. 4Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field to his flock, 5and said to them, I see the expression on your father’s face, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all of my strength. 7Your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, but God didn’t allow him to hurt me. 8If he said this, ‘The speckled will be your wages’, then all the flock bore speckled. If he said this, ‘The streaked will be your wages’, then all the flock bore streaked. 9Thus God has taken away your father’s livestock, and given them to me. 10It happened during mating season that I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which leaped on the flock were streaked, speckled, and grizzled. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob’, and I said, ‘Here I am’. 12He said, ‘Now lift up your eyes, and behold, all the male goats which leap on the flock are streaked, speckled, and grizzled, for I have seen all that Laban does to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you vowed a vow to me. Now arise, get out from this land, and return to the land of your birth’. 14Rachel and Leah answered him, Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15Aren’t we accounted by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also quite devoured our money. 16For all the riches which God has taken away from our father, that is ours and our children’s. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do. 17Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives on the camels, 18and he took away all his livestock, and all his possessions which he had gathered, including the livestock which he had gained in Paddan Aram, to go to Isaac his father, to the land of Canaan. 19Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep: and Rachel stole the teraphim that were her father’s. 20Jacob deceived Laban the Syrian, in that he didn’t tell him that he was running away. 21So he fled with all that he had. He rose up, passed over the River, and set his face toward the mountain of Gilead.
Laban Meets Jacob 
22Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. 23He took his relatives with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey. He overtook him in the mountain of Gilead. 24God came to Laban the Syrian, in a dream of the night, and said to him, Take heed to yourself that you don’t speak to Jacob either good or bad. 25Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountain, and Laban with his relatives encamped in the mountain of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, What have you done, that you have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27Why did you flee secretly, and deceive me, and didn’t tell me, that I might have sent you away with mirth and with songs, with tambourine and with harp; 28and didn’t allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now have you done foolishly. 29It is in the power of my hand to hurt you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Take heed to yourself that you don’t speak to Jacob either good or bad’. 30Now you want to be gone, because you greatly longed for your father’s house, but why have you stolen my gods? 31Jacob answered Laban, Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Lest you should take your daughters from me by force’. 32Anyone you find your gods with shall not live. Before our relatives, discern what is yours with me, and take it. For Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them. 33Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two female servants; but he didn’t find them. He went out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the teraphim, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt about all the tent, but didn’t find them. 35She said to her father, Don’t let my lord be angry that I can’t rise up before you; for I’m having my period. He searched, but didn’t find the teraphim. 36Jacob was angry, and argued with Laban. Jacob answered Laban, What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me? 37Now that you have felt around in all my stuff, what have you found of all your household stuff? Set it here before my relatives and your relatives, that they may judge between us two. 38These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not cast their young, and I haven’t eaten the rams of your flocks. 39That which was torn of animals, I didn’t bring to you. I bore its loss. Of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40This was my situation: in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41These 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. 42Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty. God has seen my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked you last night.
Laban and Jacob Make a Covenant 
43Laban answered Jacob, The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children whom they have borne? 44Now come, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be for a witness between me and you. 45Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 46Jacob said to his relatives, Gather stones. They took stones, and made a heap. They ate there by the heap. 47Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48Laban said, This heap is witness between me and you this day. Therefore it was named Galeed 49and Mizpah, for he said, Yahweh watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another. 50If you afflict my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, no man is with us; behold, God is witness between me and you. 51Laban said to Jacob, See this heap, and see the pillar, which I have set between me and you. 52May this heap be a witness, and the pillar be a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and that you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us. Then Jacob swore by the fear of his father, Isaac. 54Jacob offered a sacrifice in the mountain, and called his relatives to eat bread. They ate bread, and stayed all night in the mountain. 55Early in the morning, Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them. Laban departed and returned to his place.


 31:5 God of my father- Jacob only spoke about Yahweh as his personal God towards the end of his life. At this stage he was still relating to Yahweh as the God of his father rather than seeing the personal reality of God as his personal God. Today God works in the same way, to transform for us the God of Sunday School Christianity into our personal Father.
31:9 See on 30:43.
31:19 Teraphim were household gods- Rachel clearly believed in them passionately.
31:36 Jacob must have later reflected how this incident reflected God's pure grace to him, and how falsely self-righteous he had been. All the time in this record we are seeing God continuing to work with people through their weaknesses, to bring them to perceive and believe in Him as the God of all grace.
31:42 Rebuked you- There's no evidence God actually did. Again we see a man attaching unwarranted meaning to events, assuming God was more pleased with him than He actually was. His wives made the same mistake in the obtaining and naming of their children.
31:45 Raising up a pillar or standing stone was a paganic ritual which God later forbad for His people (Lev. 26:1 uses the same Hebrew word). Constantly we are being reminded how paganic were Jacob's beliefs at this time.
31:53 The god of Nahor was a pagan deity (Josh. 24:2); Jacob instead swore by the One his father Isaac feared, Yahweh. Even though Jacob hadn't yet accepted Yahweh as his personal God, he recognized theoretically the truth of Yahweh as opposed to any other god; Yahweh was working to transform this theoretical knowledge into a practical, personal reality for Jacob.
31:54 Eating bread together was a sign of agreeing to a covenant. It is behind the idea of the breaking of bread service, whereby God and His children state their mutual belief in each other and acceptance of  God's covenant with us- which is quite simply to save us from our sins and give us eternal life in His Kingdom because we are in Christ.