Jacob Flees Laban

11/15/15

Now he heard the things that Laban's sons were saying: “Yaakov has taken all that was our father's, and from that which was our father's he has built up all this wealth.”
Genesis 31:1
When he saw them, Yaakov said, “This is Hashem's camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:3

As Jacob’s wealth increases, Laban’s sons become jealous of their cousin. Jacob realizes the climate is turning against him and tells his wives it is time to leave, with or without Laban’s permission. Through his conversation with them, we learn that Laban has changed the terms of their deal repeatedly over the past six years.

 

Jacob also tells his wives of his dream that an angel of God appeared to him among the flock, telling him it is time to return to his homeland. As the Israel Bible points out, God implies that He will only remain with Jacob if he returns to the Holy Land, and will no longer protect him in Laban’s house. Rachel and Leah encourage their husband to do what he thinks is best, since they, too, have no place in their father’s home anymore.

 

As Jacob gathers his family and his flock and prepares to leave while Laban is away, Rachel steals her father’s idols without anyone’s knowledge.

 

When Laban realizes his nephew, daughters and grandchildren are gone, he pursues them, overtaking them after seven days. Before Laban confronts Jacob, however, God appears to Laban in a dream, warning him to speak neither good nor ill to his nephew.

 

Laban does confront Jacob, crying foul over their escape without saying goodbye. He acknowledges that God has warned him not to do anything to Jacob, but asks why Jacob would have stooped so low as to take Laban’s household gods with him. Jacob, not knowing what Rachel had done, hotly denies Laban’s accusations, encouraging him to search the camp. Rachel sits on the idols to hide them, and Laban’s search ends fruitlessly. In anger, Jacob decries all the injustice he has suffered over the years at Laban’s hand, but Laban insists that as father to Jacob’s wives, he remains patriarch of the family. He demands a covenant between them. The two men set up a pile of stones as a monument to the covenant, and Laban calls God as witness should harm come to his daughters in Jacob’s care. Jacob sets the monument as a border, which they each commit not to cross.

 

Laban departs in the morning, and Jacob sees a camp of angels approaching in greeting. He recognizes the site as holy, calling it Mahanaim, or “two camps” — one of man and one of God.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Rachel stole the idols from her father?