King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 31

Jacob departs secretly. (1-21) Laban pursues Jacob. (23-35) Jacob’s complaint of Laban’s conduct. (36-42) Their covenant at Galeed. (43-55)

Genesis 31 Audio:

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Jacob departs secretly

1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.

2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.

3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,

5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.

6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.

7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.

9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.

10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.

11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

14 And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?

15 Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.

16 For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;

18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.

19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s.

20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.

21 So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead.

22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.

Laban pursues Jacob

23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.

24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.

26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?

27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?

28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.

29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.

32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

33 And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found them not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent.

34 Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not.

35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched but found not the images.

Jacob’s complaint of Laban’s conduct

36 And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?

37 Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both.

38 This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.

39 That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.

40 Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.

41 Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.

42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.

Their covenant at Galeed

43 And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?

44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.

45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar.

46 And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.

47 And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;

49 And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

50 If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us; see, God is witness betwixt me and thee.

51 And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee:

52 This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.

53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.

54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. After that six years were expired, and calumnies and ill-will attended Jacob in Laban’s family, God ordered him to retire, v. 3. H.

Ver. 7. Ten times. Very often, or perhaps this exact number of times, v. 41.

Ver. 8. All, or the far greatest part, so that I was exceedingly enriched. M. — The Sept. here agrees with the Vulg. But the Heb. and other versions, instead of white ones, read of divers colours, or ring-streaked, which takes away th intended opposition. C.

Ver. 12. Are of divers colours. Their fancy was strongly impressed with thee various colours, in consequence of the pilled rods, which they beheld: and which Jacob was directed by the angel to place in the troughs. — I have seen with displeasure, the injustice of Laban; (H.) and therefore, I, the Lord of all things, authorize thee to act in this manner. By this vision, the justice of Jacob would appear; and the authority for removing, given in a second vision, would suffice to induce the two principal wives of Jacob to give their consent to leave their father’s house, and to begin a long journey. During the last six years, Providence had given no increase of family, that the little children might be no impediment to the removal. H.

Ver. 15. Eaten up. Laban kept for himself the dowry paid by Jacob for his wives, though he ought to have allotted it to them, with the addition of something more, in proportion to his immense wealth. M.

Ver. 18. Gotten. Heb. expresses over again, the cattle of his getting, &c. which is omitted in one MS. as well as in the Sept. Syr. and Arab. versions, though yet used in the Samarit. copy. Kennicott. — To Isaac, who was still living, though he had apprehended death was at hand 20 years before. He continued to live other 20 years after. Salien. — Jacob spent about 10 years at Sichem and at Bethel, before he went to dwell with Isaac. M.

Ver. 19. Her father’s idols. By this it appears that Laban was an idolater: and some of the fathers are of opinion, that Rachel stole away these idols, to withdraw him from idolatry, by removing the occasion of his sin. Ch. — Others think she was herself infected with this superstition, until Jacob entirely banished it from his family in Chanaan. C. xxxv. 2. T. — The Heb. Teraphim, is translated images by the Protestants in this place, though it certainly denotes idols. But Ose. iii. 4, they leave it untranslated, lest they should be forced to allow that images pertain to religious service, as well as sacrifice, &c. which are mentioned together, (W.) though they now indeed have images in the same verse of Osee for what the Vulgate renders altar. These teraphims are consequently taken in a good as well as in a bad sense. They were, perhaps, made of rich metal, and taken by Rachel and Lia to indemnify them for the want of a dowry. This, however, was wrong, and done without the participation of their husband. H.

Ver. 20. Away. Heb. “Jacob stole the heart of Laban,” concealing his flight from him. M.

Ver. 21. The river Euphrates. — Galaad, as it was called afterwards, v. 48. M.

Ver. 22. Third day. He was gone to shear his sheep, distant three days’ journey.

Ver. 24. Speak not. Laban did not comply exactly, but he used no violence. H.

Ver. 32. Slain. Homer says, “the father judges his children and wives;” and thus Jacob pronounces sentence. The Rabbins pretend it and its effect soon after in the death of Rachel. C. xxxv. 18. C.

Ver. 35. Vain. For who would imagine, that a woman should treat in this manner the objects of her father’s adoration? C. — It would hence appear, that she did not herself adore them, unless fear overcame her religion. H.

Ver. 36. Angry. He was extremely quiet. But patience abused, turns to fury. M.

Ver. 39. Exact it. Laban acted in opposition both to custom and to justice, (C.) while Jacob forebore to claim what he might have done, agreeably to both. H.

Ver. 42. The fear of Isaac; or of that God, whom Isaac fears, on account of the danger to which he is exposed of losing his friendship; a thing which, Abraham being now departed in peace, has not to dread. C.

Ver. 43. Are mine, or proceed from me originally; so that if I were to injure them, I should disregard the dictates of nature. M.

Ver. 47. Testimony. Heb. makes Laban give this etymology, Jegar-saha-dutha; while Galaad means the hill or the witness. The Syrian language had now begun to deviate some little from the Hebrew of Jacob. — Each, &c. This is added by the Vulgate. C.

Ver. 49. Behold. Heb. “and Mitspah,” or “Hammitspah,” the watch-tower, whence God will see us. C.

Ver. 50. Over them. A wise precaution, which the rich Turks still observe when they give their daughters in marriage. Busbeq. ep. 3.

Ver. 51. I have, &c. One Sam. copy reads very properly, “thou hast set up,” (yarithi), v. 45. Kennicott.

Ver. 53. God of Nachor. Heb. uses Elohim, which is often applied to idols, such as Nachor worshipped along with the true God. C. — Jacob swears by the one only God, whom his father revered. M. — The God of their father, is omitted in the Sept. and is deemed an interpolation by Kennicott. The Sam. reads again the God of Abraham. H.

Ver. 55. Night (de nocte) when it was just at an end, and day-light appeared. — His daughters, with Dina, &c. Thus all ended well and in peace, by the divine interposition, after the most serious alarms. H.