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Genesis 31:36-42

Context

31:36 Jacob became angry 1  and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban. 2  “What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit? 3  31:37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you? 4  Set it here before my relatives and yours, 5  and let them settle the dispute between the two of us! 6 

31:38 “I have been with you for the past twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 31:39 Animals torn by wild beasts I never brought to you; I always absorbed the loss myself. 7  You always made me pay for every missing animal, 8  whether it was taken by day or at night. 31:40 I was consumed by scorching heat 9  during the day and by piercing cold 10  at night, and I went without sleep. 11  31:41 This was my lot 12  for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave 13  for you – fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, but you changed my wages ten times! 31:42 If the God of my father – the God of Abraham, the one whom Isaac fears 14  – had not been with me, you would certainly have sent me away empty-handed! But God saw how I was oppressed and how hard I worked, 15  and he rebuked you last night.”

1 tn Heb “it was hot to Jacob.” This idiom refers to anger.

2 tn Heb “and Jacob answered and said to Laban, ‘What is my sin?’” The proper name “Jacob” has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation and the order of the introductory clause and direct discourse rearranged for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “What is my sin that you have hotly pursued after me.” The Hebrew verb translated “pursue hotly” is used elsewhere of soldiers chasing defeated enemies (1 Sam 17:53).

4 tn Heb “what did you find from all the goods of your house?”

5 tn Heb “your relatives.” The word “relatives” has not been repeated in the translation here for stylistic reasons.

6 tn Heb “that they may decide between us two.”

7 tn The imperfect verbal form indicates that this was a customary or typical action.

8 tn Heb “from my hand you exacted it.” The imperfect verbal form again indicates that this was a customary or typical action. The words “for every missing animal” are supplied in the translation for clarity; the following clause in Hebrew, “stolen by day or stolen by night,” probably means “stolen by wild beasts” and refers to the same animals “torn by wild beasts” in the previous clause, although it may refer to animals stolen by people. The translation used here, “missing,” is ambiguous enough to cover either eventuality.

9 tn Or “by drought.”

10 tn Heb “frost, ice,” though when contrasted with the חֹרֶב (khorev, “drought, parching heat”) of the day, “piercing cold” is more appropriate as a contrast.

11 tn Heb “and my sleep fled from my eyes.”

12 tn Heb “this to me.”

13 tn Heb “served you,” but in this accusatory context the meaning is more “worked like a slave.”

14 tn Heb “the fear of Isaac,” that is, the one whom Isaac feared and respected. For further discussion of this title see M. Malul, “More on pahad yitschaq (Gen. 31:42,53) and the Oath by the Thigh,” VT 35 (1985): 192-200.

15 tn Heb “My oppression and the work of my hands God saw.”



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