After fourteen years of working for Laban, Jacob decides to go back to the land that he fled from, hoping that Esau had forgotten that Jacob stole his blessing. In the last chapter Jacob used methods of selective breeding that are scientifically impossible so that he could get away with taking more goats, and now he decides to flee from Laban.
- Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were onto him and his tricks, and he noticed that Laban’s attitude towards him was not what it had been.
2. So God told him to get away while he had the chance.
3. Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were.
4. He told them what he had heard, and claimed that Laban had cheated him by ‘changing his wages ten times’. He said, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.
5. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, but your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times.
6. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young.
7. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.”
8. So Jacob blamed God for his biologically impossible trick, and then went on to tell them about a dream he had.
9. In the dream, God took credit for Jacob’s trick, and said, “I am the God of Bethel, not the God of Christians, but the God of Bethel. That’s my new name. Anyway, you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land at once.”
10. And Rachel and Leah replied, “Do whatever God has told you, surely we also get a share of what God has given you.”
11. So Jacob took his wives, his children, his goats, and all of the goods he had acquired in the land of Paddan Aram, and he set off to go to his father in Caanan.
12. Jacob had not told Laban he was going, and it took Laban three days to realize that they were all missing.
13. Laban gathered his relatives and set off to pursue Jacob. He caught up to him after seven days in the hills of Gilead.
14. God came to Laban in a dream, saying, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, good or bad”. And Laban replied, “What am I supposed to do? Stand there and stare?”
15. “Hey, you’re the guy that’s chasing him, not me” God replied, being as unhelpful as usual.
16. As lots of people do in the Bible, Laban ignores God. He pitched his camp near Jacob’s and said to him, “What have you done? you have deceived me and ran off with my daughters, you didn’t even…”
17. Jacob got bored listening to Laban’s long, long speech and just nodded, pretending to listen.
18. “Don’t blame me, it was God’s fault. He was the one that told me to leave” Jacob replied.
19. Rachel had gone and stolen Laban’s ‘household gods’ for no good reason whatsoever, and Laban was going to look for them. Jacob said that whoever had stolen the gods would surely die, and it was time for some more trickery.
20. Laban searched through the camp but could not find anything. When he entered Rachel’s tent she hid the household gods in the saddle of a camel and sat on it, refusing to move.
21. Jacob said to Laban, “What have I done that made you hunt me down? What is my crime? Put what you found that belongs to you here in front of your relatives and mine, so that they can be the judges.”
22. “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks….”
23. It was now Laban’s turn to tune out and pretend to be listening.
24. “And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes…”
25. “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed…”
26. Some time later Jacob finally shut up, and by this time Laban was bored with the whole situation.
27. “Tell you what, I’ll make a covenant with you, because he moral of the story is that covenants and long speeches solve everything!” Laban said.
28. So Jacob and Laban made a covenant. They made a pile of stones and ate by it. Not like any covenant anyone had ever made before, but whatever. Laban called the heap of stones Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.
29. The pile of stones was made a witness, and the covenant was made. And the next morning they split up, Laban going back home, and Jacob once more setting off to return to Isaac and the land of Caanan.
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