Tag Archives: Genesis 31-32

January 11, 2018 Bible Study — God Fights

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 31-32.

    When Laban’s sons, Jacob’s brothers-in-law, began grumbling about Jacob’s wealth, Jacob decided that it was time to return to the land of Canaan. He was very careful to make sure Laban did not find out that he was leaving until he was gone. He chose a time when Laban was away sheering sheep and he called Rachel and Leah out away from the household servants to inform them. We can see that Jacob was justified both in his decision to leave and in doing so secretly by Laban’s reaction to learning he had left. Laban did not just set out in pursuit of Jacob, he gathered a small army to do so.

    For all of his flaws, Jacob gave God credit for his success, both when he spoke to his wives about his plan to leave Laban and later when he was confronted by Laban. When Laban managed to catch up with Jacob, he pretended like he would have allowed Jacob to just leave if Jacob had told him that he wanted to do so. However, we know that this is not true because Laban cannot resist threatening Jacob even now by telling him that he could destroy him. Laban stated that the only reason he did not do so was because God had appeared to him the night before warning him against doing so. However, Laban is not willing to just let Jacob go, he wants to extract something from him, so he brings up the household idols which Rachel had stolen. (Those idols will come up again later and give us further insight into the thread about why Abraham left his homeland when they do.) It seems to me that, while I believe that God appeared to Laban in a dream to warn him against harming Jacob, when Laban realized how far he had come he began to have doubts about the wisdom of battling Jacob and his men, perhaps even some of the relatives he had gathered had expressed concern over fighting Jacob, who was also related to them.

    I mentioned that the household idols which Rachel had stolen will provide us another insight into why Abraham left his homeland, but there is actually a little bit of a clue in today’s passage as well. When Laban enters into a treaty with Jacob here he calls on the god of their grandfathers, while Jacob calls on the God of his father. The point being that for Laban, God was the god of his grandfather, with whom he had only a passing familiarity, but for Jacob, God was the god of his father, whom he had grown up revering. God is not Laban’s god and while He is not yet Jacob’s god, Jacob is moving in that direction. As Jacob is leaving the camp where he made his treaty with Laban, he meets angels and realizes that God was indeed there when Laban confronted him. Then the night before he meets Esau Jacob wrestled with an angel and became Israel. Israel means either “the one who fights with God” or “the one for whom God fights” (the literal translation is “God fights”, but I think the context makes my two meanings the intended meaning).

January 11, 2017 Bible Study

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 31-32.

    Yesterday, I wrote about the competition and conflict in Jacob’s household between Leah and Rachael. Today, we read about them acting in unity. When Laban and his sons began to feel threatened by Jacob’s success and prosperity, Jacob spoke with his wives about him taking them and returning to Canaan. The passage tells us that Leah and Rachael responded in unity and supported Jacob’s decision. The discussion concerning leaving indicates that despite the earlier conflicts in the household, after years of marriage and many children, peace was achieved. This should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Despite their earlier missteps and somewhat justified resentment, Jacob, Leah, and Rachael were able to come to peace with each other.

    It is clear that when Laban set out after Jacob that he intended to confront Jacob by force. We do not know if Laban intended to kill Jacob and take back what Jacob had earned working for him, or just force Jacob to return with him. It does not matter which, God intervened and warned Laban against such a course of action. It is worth noting that the forces which Laban mustered to pursue Jacob were his relatives, which means they would have been Jacob’s relatives as well. It seems to me that by the time Laban had overtaken Jacob the relatives he had rallied to his cause were beginning to wonder why they should take Laban’s side against Jacob.

    Another thing of note is that when Laban arrived he told Jacob that “the God of your father” has warned him against harming Jacob. Yet, when they made their treaty, Laban called on the God of their mutual ancestors to witness the treaty. Despite acknowledging the power of the God worshiped by his grandfather and by Jacob’s father and grandfather Laban had his own household gods. I think this tells us something about why Abraham had not wanted Isaac to return to the area where Laban lived to live with his wife. I will note that it does not appear to me that Jacob had chosen to dedicate himself to God at this point in his life.

January 11, 2016 Bible Study — Laban vs Jacob

This year I switched from using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible reading to the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net”.

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Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 31-32.

    Over time, Jacob’s success aroused jealousy from his brothers-in-law. In addition, as Jacob’s wealth increased, Laban became less and less friendly. So, Jacob decided to return to the land of his father and grandfather (the passage tells us that God promised to be with him if he did so). So, Jacob told Rachel and Leah of his plans. They both fully supported his decision. Leah and Rachel expressed no concern over leaving their father. As a matter of fact, they seemed convinced that their father had no concern for their well-being, or that of their sons. Once again, we see it hinted that Laban considered women to be just another asset to be used to increase his wealth.

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    We even see that in Laban’s reaction to Jacob leaving. While the passage does not give us numbers, the description of Laban’s action is very similar to what Abraham did when Lot was taken captive. Laban was not concerned about the well-being of his daughters or grandchildren. He set out to reclaim what he thought was his own. We see this in Laban’s statements after he failed to find his stolen idols. He told Jacob that everything Jacob had was really his, not Jacob’s. It is clear that the only reason Laban did not reclaim what he believed was actually his property was because he did not believe that he could do so.

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    I may be reading too much into this but Jacob and Laban appear to have had different attitudes toward women. Laban viewed them as assets to be used to gain wealth. Jacob viewed his wives as partners to be consulted when he made important life decisions.