Jacob’s Flight from Laban
1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining,1 “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich2 at our father’s expense!”3 2 When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed.4
3 The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers5 and to your relatives. I will be with you.”6 4 So Jacob sent a message for Rachel and Leah7 to come to the field8 where his flocks were.9 5 There he said to them, “I can tell that your father’s attitude toward me has changed,10 but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could,11 7 but your father has humiliated12 me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not permitted him to do me any harm. 8 If he said,13 ‘The speckled animals14 will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled offspring. But if he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked offspring. 9 In this way God has snatched away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
10 “Once15 during breeding season I saw16 in a dream that the male goats mating with17 the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11 In the dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ ‘Here I am!’ I replied. 12 Then he said, ‘Observe18 that all the male goats mating with19 the flock are streaked, speckled, or spotted, for I have observed all that Laban has done to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel,20 where you anointed21 the sacred stone and made a vow to me.22 Now leave this land immediately23 and return to your native land.’”
14 Then Rachel and Leah replied to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance24 in our father’s house? 15 Hasn’t he treated us like foreigners? He not only sold us, but completely wasted25 the money paid for us!26 16 Surely all the wealth that God snatched away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So now do everything God has told you.”
17 So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels.27 18 He took28 away all the livestock he had acquired in Paddan Aram and all his moveable property that he had accumulated. Then he set out toward the land of Canaan to return to his father Isaac.29
19 While Laban had gone to shear his sheep,30 Rachel stole the household idols31 that belonged to her father. 20 Jacob also deceived32 Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was leaving.33 21 He left34 with all he owned. He quickly crossed35 the Euphrates River36 and headed for37 the hill country of Gilead.
22 Three days later Laban discovered Jacob had left.38 23 So he took his relatives39 with him and pursued Jacob40 for seven days.41 He caught up with42 him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and warned him,43 “Be careful44 that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.”45
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.46 26 “What have you done?” Laban demanded of Jacob. “You’ve deceived me47 and carried away my daughters as if they were captives of war!48 27 Why did you run away secretly49 and deceive me?50 Why didn’t you tell me so I could send you off with a celebration complete with singing, tambourines, and harps?51 28 You didn’t even allow me to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren52 good-bye. You have acted foolishly! 29 I have53 the power to do you harm, but the God of your father told me last night, ‘Be careful54 that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.’55 30 Now I understand that56 you have gone away57 because you longed desperately58 for your father’s house. Yet why did you steal my gods?”59
31 “I left secretly because I was afraid!”60 Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought61 you might take your daughters away from me by force.62 32 Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death!63 In the presence of our relatives64 identify whatever is yours and take it.”65 (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.)66
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.67 Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s.68 34 (Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them inside her camel’s saddle69 and sat on them.)70 Laban searched the whole tent, but did not find them.71 35 Rachel72 said to her father, “Don’t be angry,73 my lord. I cannot stand up74 in your presence because I am having my period.”75 So he searched thoroughly,76 but did not find the idols.
36 Jacob became angry77 and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban.78 “What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit?79 37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you?80 Set it here before my relatives and yours,81 and let them settle the dispute between the two of us!82
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. 39 Animals torn by wild beasts I never brought to you; I always absorbed the loss myself.83 You always made me pay for every missing animal,84 whether it was taken by day or at night. 40 I was consumed by scorching heat85 during the day and by piercing cold86 at night, and I went without sleep.87 41 This was my lot88 for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave89 for you – fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, but you changed my wages ten times! 42 If the God of my father – the God of Abraham, the one whom Isaac fears90 – 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,91 and he rebuked you last night.”
43 Laban replied92 to Jacob, “These women93 are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren,94 and these flocks are my flocks. All that you see belongs to me. But how can I harm these daughters of mine today95 or the children to whom they have given birth? 44 So now, come, let’s make a formal agreement,96 you and I, and it will be97 proof that we have made peace.”98
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial pillar. 46 Then he99 said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they brought stones and put them in a pile.100 They ate there by the pile of stones. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha,101 but Jacob called it Galeed.102
48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness of our agreement103 today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 49 It was also called Mizpah104 because he said, “May the Lord watch105 between us106 when we are out of sight of one another.107 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one else is with us, realize108 that God is witness to your actions.”109
51 “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob.110 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.111 53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor,112 the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared.113 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice114 on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal.115 They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.
55 116 Early in the morning Laban kissed117 his grandchildren118 and his daughters goodbye and blessed them. Then Laban left and returned home.119