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Genesis Chapter 31
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Jacob's Journey, Marriage and Children
31:1 [Jacob] began to hear that Laban's sons were saying, 'Jacob has taken everything belonging to our father. He has become rich by taking our father's property!'
31:2 When Jacob saw Laban in person, [Laban also] did not behave to him as he did before.
31:3 God said to Jacob, 'Go back to your birthplace in the land of your fathers. I will be with you.'
31:4 Jacob sent word and summoned Rachel and Leah to the field where his flock was.
31:5 'I saw your father's face,' he said. 'He is not acting the same with me as he used to. But the God of my father has been with me.
31:6 'You know full well that I served your father with all my strength.
31:7 Your father swindled me and changed his mind about my pay at least ten times, but God would not let him harm me.
31:8 If he said, 'Your pay will be the spotted ones,' then all the animals gave birth to spotted young. If he said, 'Ringed ones will be your wage,' then all the animals dropped ringed ones.
31:9 God thus eroded your father's livestock and gave it to me.
31:10 'During the breeding season, I suddenly had a vision. I saw that the bucks mounting the sheep were ringed, spotted and flecked.
31:11 'An angel called to me in God's name, 'Jacob!' - and I replied 'Yes.'
31:12 He said, 'Raise your eyes, and you will see that the bucks mounting the sheep are ringed, spotted and flecked. Let this be a sign that I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
31:13 I am the God of Beth El, where you anointed a pillar and made an oath to Me. Now set out and leave this land. Return to the land where you were born.' '
31:14 Rachel and Leah both spoke up. 'Do we then still have a portion and an inheritance in our father's estate?' they exclaimed. 'Why, he treats us like strangers!
31:15 He has sold us and spent the money!
31:16 All the wealth that God has taken from our father actually belongs to us and our children. Now, whatever God has said to you, do it!'
31:17 Jacob began the journey, placing his children and wives on the camels.
31:18 He led away all his livestock, and took all the goods he had acquired, including everything that he had bought in Padan Aram. He was heading to see his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
31:19 Meanwhile, Laban was away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole the fetishes that belonged to her father.
31:20 Jacob decided to go behind the back of Laban the Aramaean, and did not tell him that he was leaving.
31:21 He thus fled with all he owned. He set out and crossed the Euphrates, heading in the direction of the Gilead Mountains.
31:22 On the third day, Laban was informed that Jacob had fled.
31:23 He took along his kinsmen and pursued [Jacob] for seven days, intercepting him in the Gilead Mountains.
31:24 God appeared to Laban the Aramaean that night in a dream, and said, 'Be very careful not to say anything, good or bad, to Jacob.'
31:25 Laban then overtook Jacob. Jacob had set up his tents on a hill, while Laban had stationed his kinsmen on Mount Gilead.
31:26 Laban said to Jacob, 'How could you do this? You went behind my back and led my daughters away like prisoners of war!
31:27 Why did you have to leave so secretly? You went behind my back and told me nothing! Why, I would have sent you off with celebration and song, with drum and lyre!
31:28 You didn't even let me kiss my grandsons and daughters goodbye.

'What you did was very foolish.

31:29 I have it in my power to do you great harm. But your father's God spoke to me last night and said, 'Be very careful not to say anything, good or bad, to Jacob.'
31:30 'I realize that you left because you missed your parents' home. But why did you have to steal my gods?'
31:31 Jacob spoke up. '[I left this way] because I was afraid,' he said. 'I thought that you might take your daughters away from me by force.
31:32 If you find your gods with anyone here, let him not live! Let all our close relatives here be witnesses. See if there is anything belonging to you and take it back.' Jacob did not realize that Rachel had stolen them.
31:33 Laban went into the tents of Jacob, Leah, and the two handmaids, but he found nothing. When he left Leah's tent, he went into Rachel's.
31:34 Rachel had taken the fetishes and placed them inside a camel cushion, sitting down on them. Laban inspected the entire tent, and found nothing.
31:35 [Rachel] said to her father, 'Do not be angry, my lord, but I cannot get up for you. I have my female period.' Laban searched, but he did not find the fetishes.
31:36 Jacob was angry, and he argued with Laban, asserting himself. 'What is my crime?' he exclaimed. 'What terrible thing did I do that you came chasing me like this?
31:37 You inspected all my things - what did you find from your house? Place it right here! In front of my relatives and yours! Let them determine which of us is right!
31:38 'Twenty years I worked for you! All that time, your sheep and goats never lost their young. Not once did I ever take a ram from your flocks as food.
31:39 I never brought you an animal that had been attacked - I took the blame myself. You made me make it good whether it was carried off by day or by night.
31:40 'By day I was consumed by the scorching heat, and at night by the frost, when sleep was snatched from my eyes.
31:41 Twenty years now I have worked for you in your estate - fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for some of your flocks. You changed my wages ten times!
31:42 'If the God of my fathers - the God of Abraham and the Dread of Isaac - had not been with me, you would have sent me away empty handed! But God saw my plight and the work of my hands. Last night, He rendered judgment!'
31:43 Laban interrupted Jacob. 'The daughters are my daughters! The sons are my sons! The flocks are my flocks! All that you see is mine! But my daughters....what can I do to them today? Or to the children they have born?
31:44 Now come! Let's make a treaty - you and I. Let there be a tangible evidence of it between you and me.'
31:45 Jacob took a boulder and raised it as a pillar.
31:46 'Gather stones!' he said to his relatives. They took stones and made a large mound. They ate there on top of the mound.
31:47 Laban called it Witness Mound (Yegar Sahadutha), but Jacob named it Gal'ed.
31:48 'This mound shall be a witness between you and me today, ' said Laban. 'That's why it is called Gal'ed.
31:49 [Let the pillar be called] Watchpost (Mitzpah). Let it be said that God will keep watch between you and me when we are out of each other's sight.
31:50 If you degrade my daughters, or marry other women in addition to them, there may be no one with us, but you must always realize that God is the Witness between you and me.'
31:51 Laban then said, 'Here is the mound and here is the pillar that I have set up between us.
31:52 The mound shall be a witness, and the pillar shall be a witness. I am not to go beyond the mound with bad intentions, and you are not to go beyond the mound and pillar.
31:53 May the God of Abraham, the god of Nachor, and the god of their fathers be our judge.'

Jacob swore by the Dread of his father Isaac.

31:54 He then butchered an animal on the hill, and invited his relatives to break bread. They had a meal and spent the night on the hill.


  Literally, 'I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream.' The phrase, 'lifting eyes,' in general, is usually translated as raising eyes or looking up. This is very difficult here, since why would one look up to see a dream? Therefore, it seems to be an idiom denoting seeing with new concentration or in a new light (see Genesis 13:10, 18:2, 24,63, 22:4,13, 33:1, 43:29, etc.). If taken literally, the verse here would be interpreted, 'I lifted my eyes and saw a vision [in the sky].' The expression of 'lifting eyes' can also denote concentration, contemplation and meditation: 'I contemplated the scene and had a vision.' It is surprising that none of the commentaries discuss this. See Genesis 31:12.

  Literally a dream.

An angel...
  See note on Genesis 16:10.

Beth El
  See Genesis 28:19.

Rachel stole
  Some say that it was to prevent her father from worshipping them (Bereshith Rabbah 74; Rashi). Others maintain that it was to prevent him from using them in divination to find Jacob (Tanchuma 12; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; cf. Genesis 30:27; Hosea 3:4, Zechariah 10:2). Still others maintain that Rachel took them to gain her father's pardon (Josephus 1:19:9).

  Teraphim in Hebrew, sexual images, from the word turpha (Tanchuma 12; Zohar 164a). These were images having human form (cf. 1 Samuel 19:13). In some cases, they were made out of the shrunken head of a first-born infant (Targum Yonathan; Tanchuma 12). They were not necessarily idols (Rambam, from 1 Samuel 19:13; Judges 17:5, 18:5), but here they were used for idolatrous purposes (Genesis 31:30; Zohar). In general, they were used as a meditative device to obtain messages (Hosea 3:4, Zechariah 10:2; Ibn Ezra; Radak; Ralbag; Rashi on Ezekiel 21:26). The teraphim would be tapped, inducing a relaxed, meditative state (Zohar 164a, from 2 Samuel 24:16; cf. Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 11:6; Chinukh 510).

  Literally, 'river.' See Targum. At this point, the Euphrates was 70 miles south of Charan on the way to the Holy Land.

Gilead Mountains
  These were the mountains to the east of the Jordan and north of the Jabbok River, some 300 miles south of the Euphrates. Jacob was thus heading south through Damascus. This area is identified with the land of the Rephaim (Genesis 14:5; Yov'loth 29:9). Jacob was thus taking the same route as the four invading kings in the time of Abraham.

third day
  See Genesis 30:36.

seven days
  See note on Genesis 30:36. The normal distance covered would be 238 miles, but if rushing, the entire distance of 370 miles could have been covered (see notes on Genesis 14:15, 28:19). In ten days, Jacob could easily have covered the distance.

Rachel had stolen them
  Jacob's curse came true (Genesis 35:18).

carried off...
  Or 'stolen.' See Exodus 22:12.

  See Genesis 31:53. Since Isaac was still alive, Jacob would not call Him 'God of Isaac.'

He rendered judgment
  (Ramban). Or, 'He reprimanded you last night' (Rashi).

on top of the mound
  Or, 'by the mound.' Cf. Genesis 24:13. (Artscroll).

Yegar Sahadutha
  Witness Mound in Aramaic, Laban's language.

  Witness Mound in Hebrew.

Let the pillar be...
  (Lekach Tov).

  Some sources see this as a proper noun (Ramban). See Judges 10:17, 11:11, 11:34, Hosea 5:1. Others, however, do not see it as a proper name (Targum; Rashi), and would interpret the verse, 'There was a watchpost, regarding which he said...' Some identify this place with Ramath Gilead in 1 Kings 22:3. This is 24 miles north of the Jabbok, and 25 miles east of the Jordan. See note on Genesis 32:3.

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