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Genesis 31:22-55

Context

31:22 Three days later Laban discovered Jacob had left. 1  31:23 So he took his relatives 2  with him and pursued Jacob 3  for seven days. 4  He caught up with 5  him in the hill country of Gilead. 31:24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and warned him, 6  “Be careful 7  that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.” 8 

31:25 Laban overtook Jacob, and when Jacob pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead, Laban and his relatives set up camp there too. 9  31:26 “What have you done?” Laban demanded of Jacob. “You’ve deceived me 10  and carried away my daughters as if they were captives of war! 11  31:27 Why did you run away secretly 12  and deceive me? 13  Why didn’t you tell me so I could send you off with a celebration complete with singing, tambourines, and harps? 14  31:28 You didn’t even allow me to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren 15  good-bye. You have acted foolishly! 31:29 I have 16  the power to do you harm, but the God of your father told me last night, ‘Be careful 17  that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.’ 18  31:30 Now I understand that 19  you have gone away 20  because you longed desperately 21  for your father’s house. Yet why did you steal my gods?” 22 

31:31 “I left secretly because I was afraid!” 23  Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought 24  you might take your daughters away from me by force. 25  31:32 Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death! 26  In the presence of our relatives 27  identify whatever is yours and take it.” 28  (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.) 29 

31:33 So Laban entered Jacob’s tent, and Leah’s tent, and the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find the idols. 30  Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 31  31:34 (Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them inside her camel’s saddle 32  and sat on them.) 33  Laban searched the whole tent, but did not find them. 34  31:35 Rachel 35  said to her father, “Don’t be angry, 36  my lord. I cannot stand up 37  in your presence because I am having my period.” 38  So he searched thoroughly, 39  but did not find the idols.

31:36 Jacob became angry 40  and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban. 41  “What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit? 42  31:37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you? 43  Set it here before my relatives and yours, 44  and let them settle the dispute between the two of us! 45 

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. 46  You always made me pay for every missing animal, 47  whether it was taken by day or at night. 31:40 I was consumed by scorching heat 48  during the day and by piercing cold 49  at night, and I went without sleep. 50  31:41 This was my lot 51  for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave 52  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 53  – 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, 54  and he rebuked you last night.”

31:43 Laban replied 55  to Jacob, “These women 56  are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, 57  and these flocks are my flocks. All that you see belongs to me. But how can I harm these daughters of mine today 58  or the children to whom they have given birth? 31:44 So now, come, let’s make a formal agreement, 59  you and I, and it will be 60  proof that we have made peace.” 61 

31:45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial pillar. 31:46 Then he 62  said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they brought stones and put them in a pile. 63  They ate there by the pile of stones. 31:47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, 64  but Jacob called it Galeed. 65 

31:48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness of our agreement 66  today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 31:49 It was also called Mizpah 67  because he said, “May the Lord watch 68  between us 69  when we are out of sight of one another. 70  31:50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one else is with us, realize 71  that God is witness to your actions.” 72 

31:51 “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. 73  31:52 “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. 74  31:53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor, 75  the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. 76  31:54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice 77  on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. 78  They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.

31:55 (32:1) 79  Early in the morning Laban kissed 80  his grandchildren 81  and his daughters goodbye and blessed them. Then Laban left and returned home. 82 

1 tn Heb “and it was told to Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled.”

2 tn Heb “his brothers.”

3 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 tn Heb “and he pursued after him a journey of seven days.”

5 tn Heb “drew close to.”

6 tn Heb “said to him.”

7 tn Heb “watch yourself,” which is a warning to be on guard against doing something that is inappropriate.

8 tn Heb “lest you speak with Jacob from good to evil.” The precise meaning of the expression, which occurs only here and in v. 29, is uncertain. Since Laban proceeded to speak to Jacob at length, it cannot mean to maintain silence. Nor does it seem to be a prohibition against criticism (see vv. 26-30). Most likely it refers to a formal pronouncement, whether it be a blessing or a curse. Laban was to avoid saying anything to Jacob that would be intended to enhance him or to harm him.

9 tn Heb “and Jacob pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban pitched with his brothers in the hill country of Gilead.” The juxtaposition of disjunctive clauses (note the pattern conjunction + subject + verb in both clauses) indicates synchronism of action.

10 tn Heb “and you have stolen my heart.” This expression apparently means “to deceive” (see v. 20).

11 tn Heb “and you have led away my daughters like captives of a sword.”

12 tn Heb “Why did you hide in order to flee?” The verb “hide” and the infinitive “to flee” form a hendiadys, the infinitive becoming the main verb and the other the adverb: “flee secretly.”

13 tn Heb “and steal me.”

14 tn Heb “And [why did] you not tell me so I could send you off with joy and with songs, with a tambourine and with a harp?”

15 tn Heb “my sons and my daughters.” Here “sons” refers to “grandsons,” and has been translated “grandchildren” since at least one granddaughter, Dinah, was involved. The order has been reversed in the translation for stylistic reasons.

16 tn Heb “there is to my hand.”

17 tn Heb “watch yourself,” which is a warning to be on guard against doing something that is inappropriate.

18 tn Heb “from speaking with Jacob from good to evil.” The precise meaning of the expression, which occurs only here and in v. 24, is uncertain. See the note on the same phrase in v. 24.

19 tn Heb “and now.” The words “I understand that” have been supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

20 tn The infinitive absolute appears before the perfect verbal form to emphasize the certainty of the action.

21 tn The infinitive absolute appears before the perfect verbal form to emphasize the degree of emotion involved.

22 sn Yet why did you steal my gods? This last sentence is dropped into the speech rather suddenly. See C. Mabee, “Jacob and Laban: The Structure of Judicial Proceedings,” VT 30 (1980): 192-207, and G. W. Coats, “Self-Abasement and Insult Formulas,” JBL 91 (1972): 90-92.

23 tn Heb “and Jacob answered and said to Laban, ‘Because I was afraid.’” This statement is a not a response to the question about Laban’s household gods that immediately precedes, but to the earlier question about Jacob’s motivation for leaving so quickly and secretly (see v. 27). For this reason the words “I left secretly” are supplied in the translation to indicate the connection to Laban’s earlier question in v. 27. Additionally the order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse have been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

24 tn Heb “for I said.”

25 tn Heb “lest you steal your daughters from with me.”

26 tn Heb “With whomever you find your gods, he will not live.”

27 tn Heb “brothers.”

28 tn Heb “recognize for yourself what is with me and take for yourself.”

29 tn The disjunctive clause (introduced here by a vav [ו] conjunction) provides supplemental material that is important to the story. Since this material is parenthetical in nature, it has been placed in parentheses in the translation.

30 tn No direct object is specified for the verb “find” in the Hebrew text. The words “the idols” have been supplied in the translation for clarification.

31 tn Heb “and he went out from the tent of Leah and went into the tent of Rachel.”

32 tn The “camel’s saddle” was probably some sort of basket-saddle, a cushioned saddle with a basket bound on. Cf. NAB “inside a camel cushion.”

33 tn The disjunctive clause (introduced by a vav [ו] conjunction) provides another parenthetical statement necessary to the storyline.

34 tn The word “them” has been supplied in the translation for clarification.

35 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Rachel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

36 tn Heb “let it not be hot in the eyes of my lord.” This idiom refers to anger, in this case as a result of Rachel’s failure to stand in the presence of her father as a sign of respect.

37 tn Heb “I am unable to rise.”

38 tn Heb “the way of women is to me.” This idiom refers to a woman’s menstrual period.

39 tn The word “thoroughly” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

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

41 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.

42 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).

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

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

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

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

47 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.

48 tn Or “by drought.”

49 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.

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

51 tn Heb “this to me.”

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

53 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.

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

55 tn Heb “answered and said.”

56 tn Heb “daughters.”

57 tn Heb “children.”

58 tn Heb “but to my daughters what can I do to these today?”

59 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”

60 tn The verb הָיָה (hayah) followed by the preposition לְ (lÿ) means “become.”

61 tn Heb “and it will become a witness between me and you.”

62 tn Heb “Jacob”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

63 sn The Hebrew word for “pile” is גַּל (gal), which sounds like the name “Galeed” (גַּלְעֵד, galed). See v. 48.

64 sn Jegar Sahadutha. Laban the Aramean gave the place an Aramaic name which means “witness pile” or “the pile is a witness.”

65 sn Galeed also means “witness pile” or “the pile is a witness,” but this name is Canaanite or Western Semitic and closer to later Hebrew. Jacob, though certainly capable of speaking Aramaic, here prefers to use the western dialect.

66 tn Heb “a witness between me and you.”

67 tn Heb “and Mizpah.”

68 sn The name Mizpah (מִצְפָּה, mitspah), which means “watchpost,” sounds like the verb translated “may he watch” (יִצֶף, yitsef). Neither Laban nor Jacob felt safe with each other, and so they agreed to go their separate ways, trusting the Lord to keep watch at the border. Jacob did not need this treaty, but Laban, perhaps because he had lost his household gods, felt he did.

69 tn Heb “between me and you.”

70 tn Heb “for we will be hidden, each man from his neighbor.”

71 tn Heb “see.”

72 tn Heb “between me and you.”

73 tn Heb “and Laban said to Jacob, ‘Behold this heap and behold the pillar which I have set between men and you.’” The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

74 tn Heb “This pile is a witness and the pillar is a witness, if I go past this pile to you and if you go past this pile and this pillar to me for harm.”

75 tn The God of Abraham and the god of Nahor. The Hebrew verb translated “judge” is plural, suggesting that Laban has more than one “god” in mind. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX, apparently in an effort to make the statement monotheistic, have a singular verb. In this case one could translate, “May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” However, Laban had a polytheistic world view, as evidenced by his possession of household idols (cf. 31:19). The translation uses “God” when referring to Abraham’s God, for Genesis makes it clear that Abraham worshiped the one true God. It employs “god” when referring to Nahor’s god, for in the Hebrew text Laban refers to a different god here, probably one of the local deities.

76 tn Heb “by the fear of his father Isaac.” See the note on the word “fears” in v. 42.

77 tn The construction is a cognate accusative with the verb, expressing a specific sacrifice.

78 tn Heb “bread, food.” Presumably this was a type of peace offering, where the person bringing the offering ate the animal being sacrificed.

79 sn Beginning with 31:55, the verse numbers in the English Bible through 32:32 differ by one from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 31:55 ET = 32:1 HT, 32:1 ET = 32:2 HT, etc., through 32:32 ET = 32:33 HT. From 33:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

80 tn Heb “and Laban got up early in the morning and he kissed.”

81 tn Heb “his sons.”

82 tn Heb “to his place.”



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