Leaving Laban

Leaving Laban

Genesis 31:17-18 – So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.

 After Jacob rejects Laban’s offer to stay and continue in an abusive relationship, God speaks to him in 31:3 as he had to his grandfather Abraham in Genesis 12:1, calling him to leave what had been his home for 20 years to return to his family. Jacob responded in faith, for the most part. He loaded up his family and left Laban’s home but did so secretly, without telling Laban, perhaps because he feared that the clever Laban would find a way to keep him from leaving. Jacob’s wives Rachel and Leah apparently have developed some degree of faith in God as they are willing to leave their own family like Rebekah had (Genesis 24:58) because they were ready to live by faith in God, trusting his blessing (Genesis 31:16).

Laban did not, at first, know that Jacob and his family had left because he was busy in the height of sheep shearing season. When Laban learned that his daughters and grandchildren were gone, he and his relatives pursued Jacob for seven days until they caught up with him. Humorously, the same Laban who tricked Jacob into marrying both of his daughters, became rich because of God’s blessing upon Jacob’s 20 years of labor for him, and cheated Jacob by changing his wages 10 times complained that Jacob had been deceptive with him.

However, God protected Jacob by appearing to Laban, commanding him not to harm Jacob in any way. Laban’s only other charge of wrongdoing against him by Jacob was accusing Jacob of stealing his household god/idol. Jacob was unaware that his beloved wife Rachel had stolen her father’s god and hid it on her camel. Laban searched their belongings, looking for his god to no avail. He asked to search the bags on the camel his daughter Rachel was riding, but she tricked her father the trickster, by cleverly lying that she could not dismount the camel because of her female cycle, thereby using a long-standing female excuse that remains perennially popular.

Jacob honored God by attributing all of the blessing he and Laban had received as having come directly from Him (Genesis 31:42). Then Jacob and Laban entered a covenant whereby Jacob agreed to take no more wives than Laban’s two daughters and that he would care for them both. Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and the men parted company as Laban returned to his home, as did Jacob, which sets the stage for Jacob to see the state of his brother Esau, who 20 years earlier had vowed to kill him for stealing his birthright and blessing.

What do we learn about God from this scene in Genesis, particularly His blessing?

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Mark Driscoll
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