וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵי בְנֵי לָבָן לֵאמֹר לָקַח יַעֲקֹב אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לְאָבִינוּ וּמֵאֲשֶׁר לְאָבִינוּ עָשָׂה אֵת 31:1
כָּל הַכָּבֹד הַזֶּה
Gene. 31:1 And he heard the words of the sons of Laban, saying, “Jacob has taken everything of our father's; and from that which was our father's, he has made all this wealth.”
A gross exaggeration! Jacob had taken nothing of their father’s.
וַיַּרְא יַעֲקֹב אֶת פְּנֵי לָבָן וְהִנֵּה אֵינֶנּוּ עִמּוֹ כִּתְמוֹל שִׁלְשׁוֹם 31:2
Gene. 31:2 And Jacob saw the face of Laban and behold, none of it was with him as earlier in the past.
Can you blame Laban for being angry and distrustful of the crafty Jacob?
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל יַעֲקֹב שׁוּב אֶל אֶרֶץ אֲבוֹתֶיךָ וּלְמוֹלַדְתֶּךָ וְאֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ 31:3
Gene. 31:3 And the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred and I will be with you.”
The Hebrew for and I will be has a non-inverting vav because the verb is first person imperfect. There’s also a rather unusual form for the last pronoun, you, in the Hebrew and English. Its referent is Jacob and should be masculine like the preceding two instanced of the pronoun your, but is feminine. As it happens, this is unusual, but not nonexistent. The same phenomenon occurs a few times in other places in the Hebrew throughout the bible, usually when the word with the pronoun suffix is the last in a verse.
וַיִּשְׁלַח יַעֲקֹב וַיִּקְרָא לְרָחֵל וּלְלֵאָה הַשָּׂדֶה אֶל צֹאנוֹ 31:4
Gene. 31:4 So Jacob sent and called to Rachel and to Leah of the field in among his flock.
וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶן רֹאֶה אָנֹכִי אֶת פְּנֵי אֲבִיכֶן כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ אֵלַי כִּתְמֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם וֵאלֹהֵי אָבִי הָיָה עִמָּדִי 31:5
Gene. 31:5 And he said to them, “I am seeing the face of your father, that none of it is toward me as earlier in the past. But the God of my father is with me.”
וְאַתֵּנָה יְדַעְתֶּן כִּי בְּכָל כֹּחִי עָבַדְתִּי אֶת אֲבִיכֶן 31:6
Gene. 31:6 “And you know how I had served your father with all my strength.”
וַאֲבִיכֶן הֵתֶל בִּי וְהֶחֱלִף אֶת מַשְׂכֻּרְתִּי עֲשֶׂרֶת מֹנִים וְלֹא נְתָנוֹ אֱלֹהִים לְהָרַע עִמָּדִי 31:7
Gene. 31:7 “Yet your father had dealt deceitfully with me, and would have changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to do harm by me.”
אִם כֹּה יֹאמַר, נְקֻדִּים יִהְיֶה שְׂכָרֶךָ וְיָלְדוּ כָל הַצֹּאן נְקֻדִּים וְאִם כֹּה יֹאמַר עֲקֻדִּים יִהְיֶה 31:8
שְׂכָרֶךָ וְיָלְדוּ כָל הַצֹּאן עֲקֻדִּים
Gene. 31:8 “If thus he would say: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if thus he would say: ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore streaked.”
וַיַּצֵּל אֱלֹהִים אֶת מִקְנֵה אֲבִיכֶם וַיִּתֶּן לִי 31:9
Gene. 31:9 “So God took away the cattle of your father and gave to me.”
An odd change takes place in the Hebrew in this verse. The word אֲבִיכֶם, your father, now has a masculine plural pronoun instead of the feminine plural that is found in אֲבִיכֶן in vss. 31:5 and 31:6. Perhaps the scribe erred. Then again, perhaps the scribe was indicating that Jacob was now also talking to Laban’s sons. No one knows.
וַיְהִי בְּעֵת יַחֵם הַצֹּאן וָאֶשָּׂא עֵינַי וָאֵרֶא בַּחֲלוֹם וְהִנֵּה הָעַתֻּדִים הָעֹלִים עַל הַצֹּאן עֲקֻדִּים 31:10
Gene. 31:10 “And it happened at the time of heat of the flock that I could lift my eyes and see in a dream that behold, the he-goats ascending upon the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted.”
The phrase that I could lift my eyes and see contains two first person imperfect verbs with non-inverting vavs. In addition, is Jacob now explaining how he knew to use the rods? Or is he simplifying or downplaying his magical procedure for producing the defective sheep and goats from Laban’s white flocks?
וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים בַּחֲלוֹם יַעֲקֹב וָאֹמַר הִנֵּנִי 31:11
Gene. 31:11 “And in the dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I could say, ‘Here I am.’”
The next-to-last word, וָאֹמַר, translated by me as and I could say, is a first person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav.
וַיֹּאמֶר שָׂאנָא עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה כָּל הָעַתֻּדִים הָעֹלִים עַל הַצֹּאן עֲקֻדִּים נְקֻדִּים וּבְרֻדִּים כִּי רָאִיתִי 31:12
אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לָבָן עֹשֶׂה לָּךְ
Gene. 31:12 “And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes now and see all the he-goats ascending upon the flock are streaked, speckled, and spotted, for I saw all that Laban did to you.’
אָנֹכִי הָאֵל בֵּית-אֵל אֲשֶׁר מָשַׁחְתָּ שָּׁם מַצֵּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָדַרְתָּ לִּי שָׁם נֶדֶר עַתָּה קוּם צֵא 31:13
מִן הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וְשׁוּב אֶל אֶרֶץ מוֹלַדְתֶּךָ
Gene. 31:13 ‘I am the God of Bethel where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me there. Now arise, go from this land and return to the land of your birth.’”
וַתַּעַן רָחֵל וְלֵאָה וַתֹּאמַרְנָה לוֹ הַעוֹד לָנוּ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה בְּבֵית אָבִינו 31:14
Gene. 31:14 And Rachel answered with Leah and they said to him, “Is there any longer a portion or inheritance for us in the house of our father?”
הֲלוֹא נָכְרִיּוֹת נֶחְשַׁבְנוּ לוֹ כִּי מְכָרָנוּ וַיֹּאכַל גַּם אָכוֹל אֶת כַּסְפֵּנו 31:15
Gene. 31:15 “Are we not considered strangers to him? For he had sold us and quite devoured our price also.”
כִּי כָל הָעֹשֶׁר אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֱלֹהִים מֵאָבִינוּ לָנוּ הוּא וּלְבָנֵינוּ וְעַתָּה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אָמַר אֱלֹהִים 31:16
Gene. 31:16 “Because all the riches that God has taken away from our father, it was ours and our children's; so now, all that God said to you, do.”
וַיָּקָם יַעֲקֹב וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת נָשָׁיו עַל הַגְּמַלִּים 31:17
Gene. 31:17 Then Jacob arose and placed his children and all his women on the camels.
It seems apparent from this verse that Jacob’s children were still young. In fact, jumping ahead momentarily to v. 31:38, we can surmise that the oldest, Reuben, could not have been more than 12.
וַיִּנְהַג אֶת כָּל מִקְנֵהוּ וְאֶת כָּל רְכֻשׁוֹ אֲשֶׁר רָכָשׁ מִקְנֵה קִנְיָנוֹ אֲשֶׁר רָכַשׁ בְּפַדַּן אֲרָם לָבוֹא אֶל 31:18
יִצְחָק אָבִיו אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן
Gene. 31:18 And he led off all his cattle and all his substance that he had amassed, the cattle of his acquisition that he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to Isaac, his father, to the land of Canaan.
Gene. 31:19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole the teraphim that were her father's.
This is the first mention of teraphim in the bible, but there will be other incidents involving them; as we encounter them we will learn a bit more about them. [Return to 1Sam. 15:23] [Return to Zech. 10:2]
וַיִּגְנֹב יַעֲקֹב אֶתלֵב לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי עַל בְּלִי הִגִּיד לוֹ כִּי בֹרֵחַ הוּא 31:20
Gene. 31:20 And Jacob deceived Laban, the Aramean, by not telling him that he was fleeing.
Gene. 31:21 And he fled with all that was his and he rose up and crossed the river and directed himself toward the mountain of Gilead.
In this verse we see another example of Hebrew events being inverted in time (see Gene. 1:5). Jacob fled before he rose up. To be accurate in the English, the verse should say “And he rose up and crossed the river and directed himself toward the mountain of Gilead and fled.”
וַיֻּגַּד לְלָבָן בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי כִּי בָרַח יַעֲקֹב 31:22
Gene. 31:22 And it was told to Laban on the third day about the flight of Jacob.
וַיִּקַּח אֶת אֶחָיו עִמּוֹ וַיִּרְדֹּף אַחֲרָיו דֶּרֶךְ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וַיַּדְבֵּק אֹתוֹ בְּהַר הַגִּלְעָד 31:23
Gene. 31:23 Then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued after him a journey of seven days and overtook him at the mountain of Gilead.
וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי בַּחֲלֹם הַלָּיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן תְּדַבֵּר עִם יַעֲקֹב מִטּוֹב עַד 31:24
Gene. 31:24 Then God came to Laban, the Aramean, in a dream of the night and said to him, “Take heed to yourself that you do not speak with Jacob of good or bad.”
וַיַּשֵּׂג לָבָן אֶת יַעֲקֹב וְיַעֲקֹב תָּקַע אֶת אָהֳלוֹ בָּהָר וְלָבָן תָּקַע אֶת אֶחָיו בְּהַר הַגִּלְעָד 31:25
Gene. 31:25 And Laban reached Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent at the mountain and Laban had pitched with his kinsmen at the mountain of Gilead.
וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן לְיַעֲקֹב מֶה עָשִׂיתָ וַתִּגְנֹב אֶת לְבָבִי וַתְּנַהֵג אֶת בְּנֹתַי כִּשְׁבֻיוֹת חָרֶב 31:26
Gene. 31:26 And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done that you have deceived me and carried off my daughters as though captives of the sword?”
לָמָּה נַחְבֵּאתָ לִבְרֹחַ וַתִּגְנֹב אֹתִי וְלֹא הִגַּדְתָּ לִּי וָאֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְשִׁרִים בְּתֹף וּבְכִנּוֹר 31:27
Gene. 31:27 “Why have you withdrawn to flee, and outwitted me, and did not tell me so I could send you off with gladness and with songs, with tambourine and with harp,
The ninth word, וָאֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ, translated as “so I could send you off,” contains a non-inverting vav. The verb is first person imperfect.
וְלֹא נְטַשְׁתַּנִי לְנַשֵּׁק לְבָנַי וְלִבְנֹתָי עַתָּה הִסְכַּלְתָּ עֲשׂו 31:28
Gene. 31:28 and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly.”
יֶשׁלְאֵל יָדִי לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּכֶם רָע וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבִיכֶם אֶמֶשׁ אָמַר אֵלַי לֵאמֹר הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ מִדַּבֵּר עִם 31:29
יַעֲקֹב מִטּוֹב עַד רָע
Gene. 31:29 “It is in the power of my hand to do evil to you, but the God of your father last night spoke to me, saying, ‘Take heed to yourself that you do not speak with Jacob of good or bad.’”
וְעַתָּה הָלֹךְ הָלַכְתָּ כִּי נִכְסֹף נִכְסַפְתָּה לְבֵית אָבִיךָ לָמָּה גָנַבְתָּ אֶת אֱלֹהָי 31:30
Gene. 31:30 “But now you have actually gone because you deeply long for the house of your father – why did you steal my gods?”
וַיַּעַן יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר לְלָבָן כִּי יָרֵאתִי כִּי אָמַרְתִּי פֶּן תִּגְזֹל אֶת בְּנוֹתֶיךָ מֵעִמִּי 31:31
Gene. 31:31 And Jacob answered and he said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘lest you would take your daughters away from me.’”
עִם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶת אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא יִחְיֶה נֶגֶד אַחֵינוּ הַכֶּרלְךָ מָה עִמָּדִי וְקַחלָךְ וְלֹא יָדַע יַעֲקֹב כִּי 31:32
Gene. 31:32 “With whom you find your gods shall not live. Before our brethren, discern what is yours with me, and take it to you,” for Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
וַיָּבֹא לָבָן בְּאֹהֶל יַעֲקֹב וּבְאֹהֶל לֵאָה וּבְאֹהֶל שְׁתֵּי הָאֲמָהֹת וְלֹא מָצָא וַיֵּצֵא מֵאֹהֶל לֵאָה וַיָּבֹא 31:33
Gene. 31:33 And Laban went into the tent of Jacob and into the tent of Leah and into the tent of the two maidservants but he found nothing. And he went out of the tent of Leah and he went into the tent of Rachel.
וְרָחֵל לָקְחָה אֶת הַתְּרָפִים וַתְּשִׂמֵם בְּכַר הַגָּמָל וַתֵּשֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶם וַיְמַשֵּׁשׁ לָבָן אֶת כָּל הָאֹהֶל וְלֹא 31:34
Gene. 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the teraphim and put them in the saddle of the camel and she sat on them. And Laban searched the entire tent but he found nothing.
וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל אָבִיהָ אַל יִחַר בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי כִּי לוֹא אוּכַל לָקוּם מִפָּנֶיךָ כִּי דֶרֶךְ נָשִׁים לִי וַיְחַפֵּשׂ וְלֹא 31:35
מָצָא אֶת הַתְּרָפִים
Gene. 31:35 And she said to her father, “Let not displeasure be in the eyes of my lord that I will not be able to rise up before you, for the way of women is on me.” And he searched but did not find the teraphim.
וַיִּחַר לְיַעֲקֹב וַיָּרֶב בְּלָבָן וַיַּעַן יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר לְלָבָן מַהפִּשְׁעִי מַה חַטָּאתִי כִּי דָלַקְתָּ אַחֲרָי 31:36
Gene. 31:36 And Jacob’s anger was kindled and he strove with Laban, and Jacob answered and he said to Laban, “What is my trespass, what is my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me?”
כִּי מִשַּׁשְׁתָּ אֶת כָּל כֵּלַי מַה מָּצָאתָ מִכֹּל כְּלֵי בֵיתֶךָ שִׂים כֹּה נֶגֶד אַחַי וְאַחֶיךָ וְיוֹכִיחוּ בֵּין שְׁנֵינוּ 31:37
31:37 “As you have searched all my belongings, what have you found of all the stuff of your house? Place it here before my brethren and your brethren so they may judge between us two.”
31:38 “These twenty years have I been with you; your ewes and your she-goats did not miscarry; and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks.”
From this verse we can surmise that the events of Gene. 30:35 to 30:47 transpired over a period of six years rather than days. So now we know: While the miracle of the streaked, speckled, spotted, and dark sheep and goats is a reality, the rest of the assumed miracle, that it occurred in a period of a few days, is not.
טְרֵפָה לֹא הֵבֵאתִי אֵלֶיךָ אָנֹכִי אֲחַטֶּנָּה מִיָּדִי תְּבַקְשֶׁנָּה גְּנֻבְתִי יוֹם וּגְנֻבְתִי לָיְלָה 31:39
31:39 “Those torn of beasts I did not bring to you; I could bear the loss. From my hand did you require it, if stolen by day or stolen by night.”
הָיִיתִי בַיּוֹם אֲכָלַנִי חֹרֶב וְקֶרַח בַּלָּיְלָה וַתִּדַּד שְׁנָתִי מֵעֵינָי 31:40
31:40 “I existed; the heat consumed me in the day and the frost in the night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.”
זֶהלִּי עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה בְּבֵיתֶךָ עֲבַדְתִּיךָ אַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בִּשְׁתֵּי בְנֹתֶיךָ וְשֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים בְּצֹאנֶךָ 31:41
וַתַּחֲלֵף אֶת מַשְׂכֻּרְתִּי עֲשֶׂרֶת מֹנִים
31:41 “This has been mine in your house twenty years. I served you fourteen years because of your two daughters and six years because of your flock and you have changed my wages ten times.”
Here we are definitely informed that Jacob labored six years for his sheep. This verse, with v. 31:38 above, further helps clear up some of the mystery of the last chapter.
לוּלֵי אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם וּפַחַד יִצְחָק הָיָה לִי כִּי עַתָּה רֵיקָם שִׁלַּחְתָּנִי אֶת עָנְיִי וְאֶת יְגִיע 31:42
כַּפַּי רָאָה אֱלֹהִים וַיּוֹכַח אָמֶשׁ
Gene. 31:42 “Had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Dread of Isaac been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty. God did see my affliction and the labor of my hand that He made right last night.”
The phrase the Dread of Isaac is found in only one other place in the bible, below in v. 31:53. We are free to interpret it as referring to God or as Laban’s fear of Isaac (which seems ludicrous). I have favored the former, as it is supported by v. 31:53 below. If it indeed refers to God, Jacob is telling us that Isaac lived his life in deep fear of God. That fear could only have been instilled by the Akedah. I find it remarkable that the Lord should reveal such seemingly significant facts in this almost off-handed way. Perhaps He is demonstrating to us that our concerns are of less significance than we would prefer to imagine.
וַיַּעַן לָבָן וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל יַעֲקֹב הַבָּנוֹת בְּנֹתַי וְהַבָּנִים בָּנַי וְהַצֹּאן צֹאנִי וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה רֹאֶה לִי הוּא 31:43
וְלִבְנֹתַי מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה לָאֵלֶּה הַיּוֹם אוֹ לִבְנֵיהֶן אֲשֶׁר יָלָדוּ
Gene. 31:43 And Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flock is my flock, and all that you are seeing, it is mine. And for my daughters, what can I do for them today, or for their children whom they bore?”
וְעַתָּה לְכָה נִכְרְתָה בְרִית אֲנִי וָאָתָּה וְהָיָה לְעֵד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ 31:44
Gene. 31:44 “So now let us make a covenant, I and you, and let it be a witness between me and you.”
וַיִּקַּח יַעֲקֹב אָבֶן וַיְרִימֶהָ מַצֵּבָה 31:45
Gene. 31:45 And Jacob took a stone and he set it up to be a pillar.
וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב לְאֶחָיו לִקְטוּ אֲבָנִים וַיִּקְחוּ אֲבָנִים וַיַּעֲשׂוּ גָל וַיֹּאכְלוּ שָׁם עַל הַגָּל 31:46
Gene. 31:46 And Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and they made a heap and they ate there on the heap.
וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ לָבָן יְגַר שָׂהֲדוּתָא וְיַעֲקֹב קָרָא לוֹ גַּלְעֵד 31:47
Gene. 31:47 And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.
Both names mean witness heap, the former being Aramean and the latter, Hebrew.
וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן הַגַּל הַזֶּה עֵד בֵּינִי וּבֵינְךָ הַיּוֹם עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמוֹ גַּלְעֵד 31:48
Gene. 31:48 And Laban said, “This heap is witness between me and you today.” Therefore its name was called Galeed,
וְהַמִּצְפָּה אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יִצֶף יְהוָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ כִּי נִסָּתֵר אִישׁ מֵרֵעֵהו 31:49
Gene. 31:49 and Hamizpah, when he said, “Let the Lord watch between me and you when we will be apart, one from the other.”
This name, Hamizpah, means the watchtower in Hebrew. The name, Galeed, in v. 31:48 means a witness heap.
אִם תְּעַנֶּה אֶת בְּנֹתַי וְאִם תִּקַּח נָשִׁים עַל בְּנֹתַי אֵין אִישׁ עִמָּנוּ רְאֵה אֱלֹהִים עֵד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ 31:50
Gene. 31:50 “If you should afflict my daughters or if you should take wives besides my daughters, no one with us will see. God will be the witness between me and you.”
וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן לְיַעֲקֹב הִנֵּה הַגַּל הַזֶּה וְהִנֵּה הַמַּצֵּבָה אֲשֶׁר יָרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ 31:51
Gene. 31:51 And Laban said to Jacob, “Behold this heap and behold the pillar that I have cast between me and you.”
עֵד הַגַּל הַזֶּה וְעֵדָה הַמַּצֵּבָה אִם אָנִי לֹא אֶעֱבֹר אֵלֶיךָ אֶת הַגַּל הַזֶּה וְאִם אַתָּה לֹא תַעֲבֹר 31:52
אֵלַי אֶת הַגַּל הַזֶּה וְאֶת הַמַּצֵּבָה הַזֹּאת לְרָעָה
Gene. 31:52 “This heap shall be a witness and the pillar shall be a witness that I will not pass by this heap to you and that you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me to do harm.”
Apparently, the covenant is meant to prevent passing of either Laban or Jacob only to do harm to the other. Friendly traffic appears not to be curtailed.
Gene. 31:53 “Let the God of Abraham and the gods of Nahor, the gods of their fathers, judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Dread of his father, Isaac.
The last part of this verse seems to support the interpretation of v. 31:42, the Dread, being God. I’m not too sure about this, but I’m inclined to accept the translation as I have it, because it implies that Jacob refused to swear by the gods of Laban. However, the latter part of the verse could also be translated as “And Jacob swore in fear of his father.” This would change the translation of v. 31:42 to something less acceptable, because it doesn’t seem as if Laban (or Jacob) feared Isaac.
וַיִּזְבַּח יַעֲקֹב זֶבַח בָּהָר וַיִּקְרָא לְאֶחָיו לֶאֱכָל לָחֶם וַיֹּאכְלוּ לֶחֶם וַיָּלִינוּ בָּהָר 31:54
Gene. 31:54 And Jacob offered a sacrifice at the mountain and called to his brethren to eat bread, and they ate bread and tarried all night at the mountain.
This is the first time we’ve heard that Jacob offered sacrifices.