Having A Go At Genesis

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Gen 29:7 . . He said: It is still broad daylight, too early to round up the
animals; water the flock and take them to pasture.

The Hebrew word for "broad" is gadowl (gaw-dole') which means great (in
any sense). Gadowl is variously translated as high day, the sun is high, early
in the day, and much daylight.

Apparently the usual time for watering flocks was later in the afternoon just
prior to bedding them down for the night.

Jacob just blew into the neighborhood and he's already telling strangers
what to do! No doubt an attitude he brought with him from Isaac's ranch.
Down there the servants jumped when Jacob said something. Up here in
Haran though, things were just a wee bit different.

Gen 29:8 . . But they said: We cannot, until all the flocks are rounded up;
then the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well and we water the sheep.

Actually, someone may have owned that well; and set the rules for it's use.
In those days, whoever dug for water usually had the rights to it; somewhat
like a prospector's claim in the gold fields out in 1850's California.
Apparently the owner didn't mind people using the water as long as they
respected his feelings about it. But Jacob had a mind of his own, and
seemed to care very little for the property rights of others.

There's a clash of civilizations going on in this scene. Jacob was from the
frontier lands of Canaan where men of mettle did pretty much as they
wished. I'm guessing that Haran was a bit more sophisticated.

And then too; Jacob was a privileged kid born with a silver spoon in his
mouth. I've seen the kind of superiority complex that kind of upbringing
sometimes instills within children. Well; that's going to change. Jacob is
entering the school of hard knocks, and he's going to learn a thing or two
from professor Laban. But when it's all over, Jacob will be a better man for
it.

Gen 29:9-10 . .While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with
her father's flock; for she was a shepherdess. And when Jacob saw Rachel,
the daughter of his uncle Laban, and the flock of his uncle Laban, Jacob went
up and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well, and watered the flock of
his uncle Laban.

Violating local customs is an insolent thing to do; and almost certainly
guaranteed to get you off on the wrong foot. And besides: fair is fair. The
other shepherds were there ahead of Rachel, and no telling how long they'd
been waiting. Word of Jacob's favoritism, and his disdain for fair play, would
surely spread.

Coming from a privileged family; Jacob was accustomed to doing pretty
much as he pleased and answering to no one for it. But arriving in Haran, he
was a nobody: a homeless drifter. Now he's going to learn what it's like to
be just another face in the crowd; and he is also going to learn what it's like
to do as you're told. Unkie Laban is just the bull o' the woods for some long
overdue rich-kid attitude adjustment.

Gen 29:11 . .Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and broke into tears.

Poor Jacob. He'd been under a lot of stress lately; and probably feeling very
alone in the world. His cousin must have seemed to him like an angel of
mercy come to rescue his soul from the abyss. First he helped water her
flock; for no apparent reason to Rachel other than courtesy; which she
seemed to accept without any fuss. But then he impulsively kissed her (on
the cheek I hope) and started sobbing. Rachel must have stared at Jacob
like a man gone mad from a brain tumor.

Gen 29:12 . . Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, that he
was Rebecca's son; and she ran and told her father.

Zoom! Out of there like a bottle rocket (so to speak). Boy that girl sure
takes after auntie Becky. Rachel lit out of there like the critters sent from
Jessie the Cowgirl to fetch Sheriff Woody in Toy Story2.

Gen 29:13a . . On hearing the news of his sister's son Jacob, Laban ran to
greet him;

I seriously doubt that Laban sprinted. The man was over 100 by now and
near the age of Jacob's mom; maybe even older than her. Isaac and
Rebecca were married twenty years before she became pregnant for the
very first time, and Jacob is around 75 at this point. For a man Laban's age
"rushed" and/or "hurried" seems more reasonable than ran.

Gen 29:13b . . he embraced him and kissed him,

Foreign customs often offend Americans. I was visiting the home of a
Portuguese man in San Diego a number of years back when his son and
daughter-in-law showed up unexpectedly. Dad and son greeted each other
with a hug; and kissed full on the lips. I just about died; it was so gross. And
then he kissed the daughter-in-law full on the lips too. I think you have to
grow up in those kinds of customs to really be comfortable with them.

Gen 29:13c-14a . . and took him into his house. He told Laban all that had
happened, and Laban said to him; You are truly my bone and flesh.

Adam said pretty much the very same thing about Eve at Gen 2:23 because
she wasn't created from the dust as he had been, but was manufactured
from already existing human tissue amputated from his body. In other
words: ol' Laban was saying "You and I are one and the same" because
tricking a father in order to supplant a brother was just the thing Laban
would have thought of himself had he been in Jacob's shoes.
_
 

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Gen 29:14b-15 . .When he had stayed with him a month's time, Laban
said to Jacob: Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for
nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?

It's curious that Laban would offer Jacob employment. I'm guessing that
Jacob had offered to help out around Laban's ranch only just long enough for
the heat blow over back home; but Laban became impressed with Jacob's
work ethic and wanted him on permanently. Sometimes good help is very
hard to find; and worth paying for.

Gen 29:16-17a . . Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older
one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak
eyes;

According to Jewish folklore, Leah had weak eyes from crying all the time at
the prospect of being forced to marrying Esau.

The word for "weak" is from rak (rak) which means, variously: tender, soft,
weak, and/or gentle.

So rak doesn't necessarily mean that something is feeble. It can also mean
that something is kind and/or gentle as opposed to harsh and/or cruel. And
in this case, where the beauty of two girls is being compared, I don't think
the author of Genesis meant to convey that Leah's eyesight was weak; only
that she had nice eyes, but little else to offer.

Pity. Leah was a good girl; but just about bankrupt in what really matters to
most guys; and as any woman with assets can vouch; most men think
better with their eyes than with their brains. In other words: when it comes
to women, men's brains switch off and it's all about the view after that: if
you know what I mean.

Gen 29:17b-18a . . Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel;

Duh. Why does that not surprise us? You know, Jacob was fortunate about
something. In those days, a man didn't have to win a woman's heart. He
had to win her custodian's heart. So men could pick out a girl like they might
pick out a shirt or a new car. Girls, through no fault of their own, could
easily get stuck with a very disagreeable man.

But there is something very missing in this story-- Rachel's love for Jacob.
The man was ga-ga over her. But how did she really feel about him?

Gen 29:18b-19 . . so he answered; I will serve you seven years for your
younger daughter Rachel. Laban said; Better that I give her to you than that
I should give her to an outsider. Stay with me.

Done! And just like that; a girl became engaged. Jacob traded seven years
of his life for Rachel. But it wasn't really about money, and they actually
dickered over wages later. What Jacob actually proposed was a service
commitment; like the contracts musicians sign with recording companies;
and professional athletes sign with big league teams like the Blazers or the
Mets; and like the terms of service to which young men commit themselves
to the armed forces.

So Jacob didn't really buy Rachel with money. She was more like a bonus for
signing up as a full-time employee with Laban. And the seven years weren't
Laban's idea. They were Jacob's; and I think he made it so many years
because he wanted to offer Laban a deal so lucrative that he couldn't
possibly refuse it.

Gen 29:20 . . So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to
him but a few days because of his love for her.

It's a fact of human experience that men will sell their souls to satisfy their
wants. But I'm guessing there was more to Rachel than just her looks. After
seven years living in such close proximity, Jacob still wanted her. If she had
been one of those tough, thin skinned, defensive, obtuse, chafing and
demeaning Tomb Raider kind of girls, I'm pretty sure Jacob would have lost
interest by then. I say "pretty sure" because there are some men who will
live with a witch in spite of the abuse they endure just so's they can sleep
with the woman of their dreams; viz: a trophy wife rather than a man's best
friend forever.
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Gen 29:21 . .Then Jacob said to Laban; Give me my wife, for my time is
fulfilled, that I may cohabit with her.

The word "cohabit" is not actually in the Hebrew. It should read "go near".
What Jacob said, in the common colloquialism of our day, is what men
sometimes say when they want to sleep with a particular girl. They
sometimes say: Wow! I'd sure like to get next to that! (chuckle) Very
expressive.

Gen 29:22-23 . . And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made
a feast. When evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to
him; and he cohabited with her.

Jacob has got to rank as just about the dumbest groom in history. He knew
both of those girls like the back of his hand. For seven years he lived right
next door and saw them both every day. Leah and Rachel didn't even
resemble each other. The one was shapely and beautiful. The other was not.
Even if he couldn't see well enough in the dark to tell the difference, he
certainly should have been able to feel the difference; and to recognize the
difference in their voices.

Was that man so totally plastered with booze from the reception that he
couldn't even tell who, or what, he slept with that night? Haw-Haw-Haw
Haw-Haw

But the real mystery was Leah. Wouldn't you think that she would have
spoken up and said something before things got out of hand? That sly girl.
(chuckle) Personally I think she had a big crush on Jacob. Later on Leah will
try very hard to get Jacob to transfer his affections to her and forget about
Rachel.

This so reminds me of Sadie Hawkins' day in the Little Abner comics of the
old days. In the town of Dog Patch, men didn't grow on trees; there just
wasn't enough to go around; and on top of that, some of the hillbilly girls
weren't much to look at either. Subsequently, some of the local gals had a
tough time getting husbands.

So, in memorial of an old spinster lady named Sadie Hawkins, a special day
was set aside each year wherein the bachelorettes had a chance to get
hitched. All they had to do was run down one of the unattached men; and
whoever they caught, absolutely had to marry them; no exchanges and no
returns.

But hey! Where was Rachel!?! Was she tied up out in the barn or something?
Well; I hate to say it, but I really don't think she ever did want to marry Mr.
Jacob. I really think she was in on the whole scam all along and I think
Rachel was seriously hoping Jacob would settle for Leah and forget all about
herself. But alas; such was not to happen. Jacob was very determined. He
accepted his fate with Leah, but went after Rachel anyway.

NOTE: The covenant that Moses' people eventually agreed upon with God as
per Lev 18:18 protects sisters like Rachel and Leah so that men are not
permitted to cohabit with both girls at the same time.

Gen 29:24 . . Laban had given his maidservant Zilpah to his daughter Leah
as her maid.

Zilpah didn't say anything either. In fact she very likely assisted Leah to
bathe and prepare for her wedding night. Poor Jacob. He was so defeated. It
was like the whole world, and even the stars above in their courses, were in
a grand conspiracy to dupe the old boy that night.

Gen 29:25 . .When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban:
What is this you have done to me? I was in your service for Rachel! Why did
you deceive me?

There is really no one to blame for this situation but Jacob himself. They say
to never look a gift horse in the mouth. But I think your wedding night has
to be the exception. For crying out loud, you'd think the man would have
enough sense to make sure the woman in his bed was the one who was
supposed to be there. Yes, Laban was a rascal. But then so was Leah, and so
was Zilpah; and Rachel too. And maybe this gave Jacob cause to remember
how he tricked his own dad back home into giving him Esau's blessing.
(chuckle) There's an old saying: What goes around, comes around.
_
 

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Gen 29:26 . . Laban said; It is not the practice in our place to marry off
the younger before the older.

Jacob lived in "our place" for seven years. I tend to think he knew full well
their customs.

Perhaps Jacob expected the locals would make an exception for him because
he was a rich boy from down south. But no; local custom was local custom,
and even Mr. Silver Spoon In Your Mouth was going to have to accept it.

NOTE: I suspect the wedding guests all knew that Jacob was being tricked
on his wedding night, but I also suspect that they never forgot his lack of
fair play back at the well when he first blew into town. You know, when
you're unfair with people, you have to expect that they will be
unsympathetic when unfairness comes your way.

Gen 29:27 . .Wait until the bridal week of this one is over and we will give
you that one too, provided you serve me another seven years.

Serving Laban the first seven years for Rachel was Jacob's idea; except that
instead of getting Rachel; he got Leah. Now Laban's proviso is that Jacob
serve yet another seven years for Rachel; which will total fourteen for a girl
he was supposed to get in seven. I think most any normal red-blooded man
would have refused.

But Jacob was an Ethan Frome kind of guy. I don't think he wanted to hurt
Leah, and maybe even felt partially responsible for her predicament.

That's a crummy reason to marry a girl, but I don't think Jacob could have
lived with himself if he threw Leah back now. After all, Jacob was her first
love, and it's not like she was used goods or anything.

It's true that Jacob was not above fraud; but basically, he was a fairly
honorable man.

Gen 29:28-29 . . Jacob did so; he waited out the bridal week of the one,
and then he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife. Laban had given his
maidservant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid.

Maidservants weren't just female commodities. They were actually a part of
the household, and often treated with a pretty fair degree of respect.

Gen 29:30 . . And Jacob cohabited with Rachel also; indeed, he loved
Rachel more than Leah. And he served him another seven years.

I'm sure Jacob never mistreated Leah. But he wasn't crazy about her in a
romantic way. It's like the relationship between Robert Philip and his fiancé
Nancy Tremaine in the Disney movie Enchanted. Nancy is neither a bad girl
nor a bad choice-- the chemistry just isn't there.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, Jacob's situation probably led
to some favoritism. And in this case, I think Jacob began spending most of
his time with Rachel and leaving Leah out in the cold; so to speak; viz: she
was in the unenviable limbo of a burden to her husband. However, since
Jacob chose to keep Leah, he was morally obligated to treat her as if he was
infatuated with her, even if he really wasn't.

When you get right down to it; Leah didn't do any more to Jacob than what
he did to his dad; so all in all: what right had Jacob to complain? I've a
pretty strong feeling that after Leah's week was fulfilled, no more was said
about this incident.
_
 

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Gen 29:31 . .The Lord saw that Leah was unloved and he opened her
womb; but Rachel was barren.

God didn't make Rachel barren. She was already that way. And Leah was
too. In fact, every one of the matriarchs were barren women. It must have
been in their genes. But the Lord elected to repair Leah and leave Rachel out
of whack for a while longer.

I really don't think what the Lord did was punishment against Jacob and
Rachel. I think it was a countermeasure to get Jacob to pay a little more
attention to Leah. It's very important for spouses to bond. Allowing Jacob to
focus too much of his attention on Rachel would soon make Leah the odd
man out; and a very lonely woman.

But why would God do that-- take an interest in Leah's problems? Because,
as Hagar discovered, Abraham's god is a sensitive god who sees people (Gen
16:13-14). And it seems very obvious to me that He was sympathetic to
Leah's circumstances.

And that tells me something. It's true that Leah was in on the scheme to
trick Jacob. But God didn't get upset with her for that. In fact, it looks to me
like He was actually very pleased that she married Jacob. After all, it was
through Leah that the man predicted in Dan 7:13-14 would come, not
Rachel. I believe that is very significant.

I would even go so far as to say that Leah was the one God Himself would
have picked for Jacob if he had only sought a wife in the very same manner
that Abraham had sought one for Isaac. But no. Jacob took matters into his
own hands, came to Haran in person, and fell in love with the wrong girl.
Well; he ended up marrying Leah anyway in spite of his feelings for Rachel;
just like his dad ended up blessing Jacob in spite of his feelings for Esau.

Most guys have visions of the girl they would like to marry. She's young,
gorgeous, shapely, and congenial. But the reality is: most will never find a
girl like that. So they settle for what they can get and become resigned to
missing out on life. Big mistake. Leah was no less a woman just because she
wasn't Miss Haran circa 1770 bc. And when the chips are down in life, your
very best friend had better be your wife. Beauty means nothing when a man
is out of work, or coming down with cancer. That's when guys need a faithful
friend, not a love pet.

Unbeknownst to Jacob, he was destined to father the twelve tribes of Israel.
Up to now, It had been one patriarch fathering just one descendant. But that
all changed with Jacob. The nation of Israel quite literally started with him.

(chuckle) That guy lived solo for better than eighty years of his life and then
all of a sudden, WHAM, in just one week's time, four women moved in with
him. Then, in just seven years time, he had a posse of juveniles running
around the house. Awww-Haw-Haw-Haw-Hawww!!!

The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work
with men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers,
explorers, scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for
marriage and parenthood.

But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a
long hiking trail, or risking his life to free climb rocks and/or summit difficult
mountains, or squandering untold hours operating a particle collider
searching for an elusive boson. Married guys with kids at home should not
be doing things like that; especially dangerous things that could easily, and
quite suddenly, rob their family of its daddy.

"Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor
10:24)

Gen 29:32 . . Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him Reuben; for
she declared: The Lord has seen my affliction. Now my husband will love
me.

Reuben's name is from Re'uwben (reh-oo-bane') which means: Look; a son!

Gen 29:33 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This is
because The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me this one also.
So she named him Simeon.

Simeon's name is Shim'own (shim-one') which means: hearing. Leah was
obviously a woman of prayer and had no reservations about sharing her
personal problems with the god of her choice. (cf. Phil 4:6-7)

Gen 29:34 . . Again she conceived and bore a son and declared; This time
my husband will become attached to me, for I have borne him three sons.
Therefore he was named Levi.

Children do have a way of bonding a (normal) man to their mother. It
doesn't always work, but often does.

Levi's name is Leviy (lay-vee') which means: attached; viz: bonded.

Jacob was indeed a family man now. In spite of his romantic passions for
Rachel, he would never again feel the same way about Leah. She could
never be just another woman in the house now that she was the mother of
his children. Jacob couldn't help but feel bonded to her. God's idea worked.
You say: how do I know it worked? Because the next boy was named in
gratitude to God for saving the marriage.

Gen 29:35 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This time
I will praise The Lord. Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped
bearing.

Well done! And Judah was a real honor too. He became the tribe of Israel's
kings; and from them descended David, and Christ.

The Hebrew word for "Judah" is Yehuwdah (yeh-hoo-daw') which means
celebrated; i.e. famous.

The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work
with men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers,
explorers, scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for
marriage and parenthood.

But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a
long hiking trail, or risking his life to summit a difficult mountain, or untold
hours operating a particle collider searching for an elusive boson. Married
guys with kids at home should not be doing things like that; especially
dangerous things that could easily, and quite suddenly, rob his family of its
daddy.

"Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor
10:24)
_
 

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Gen 30:1a . .When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she
became envious of her sister;

Sibling rivalry is bad enough. But when siblings compete for the affections of
the same love object, it's all the worse. I don't know what it is about kin, but
it's much easier to compete with someone outside the family than those
within. Rivalry within family is not just a competition; it is more like the
passions of a blood feud. The feelings run deep, and hot, and painful. People
who never had a brother or sister cannot understand this. You just have to
live it to know what it's like.

Gen 30:1b . . and Rachel said to Jacob: Give me children, or I shall die.

Somehow Rachel felt the fault was Jacob's as if he were doing something to
deliberately prevent conception. According to Jewish folklore, it was a
common practice in that day for a man with two wives to give the prettier
one some sort of birth control herb to prevent her from getting pregnant and
losing her figure. Thus the prettier of the two was reserved for pleasure; and
the other for bearing children. Genetically, that was a pretty dumb idea since
the practice results in the perpetuation of inferior stock. I seriously doubt
you'll ever see breeders of dogs, cats, livestock and/or race horses
conducting their business like that.

Jacob wasn't doing anything to Rachel. She was just simply unable to have
children. If only she had followed her sister Leah's example in prayer instead
of getting in one of those moods, then she wouldn't have been so ready to
rag on Jacob for something over which he had no control.

Gen 30:2a . . Jacob was incensed at Rachel

Jacob's anger was no doubt an unpleasant mixture of hurt and indignation.
He really did love Rachel. She wasn't just a girl toy. For her to insinuate that
he was keeping her around just for pleasure must have bitten deeply into his
soul. Romantic love can easily turn into hate-- very suddenly and very
quickly; like turning a page in a book.

Romantic love is very different than the love of a loyal friend. Romantic love
seeks its own best interests and is very fragile and easily wounded. Fraternal
love is much better. It's like a strong anchor. The more a storm buffets the
ship, the deeper the anchor digs into its moorage.

Gen 30:2b . . and said: Can I take the place of God, who has denied you
fruit of the womb?

I'm sure that just as soon as Jacob lashed out at Rachel he regretted it. His
retort implied that she was a sinner who didn't deserve children. What an
ugly thing to say. But he was upset and felt betrayed by his best girl. So his
reaction is understandable. But isn't there a better way? Yes.

Instead of attacking her husband in an attempt to put blame, Rachel would
have been much better off just finding a nice quiet spot and telling God how
she was feeling about her sterility-- how it was hurting her and making her
feel inferior to her sister: and threatening her marriage. Would God respond
to that? Yes. Because that is exactly what Rachel did do eventually. It's just
too bad she didn't think of it sooner.

If Rachel felt that God cared about her at all, then she would have
recognized that barrenness was serving some sort of Divine purpose; even if
she couldn't think of one at the time. But Rachel's circumstances were
causing her feelings to override her thinking; and making her emotional and
reactive instead of objective and rational.

Gen 30:3-5 . . She said: Here is my maid Bilhah. Consort with her, that
she may bear on my knees and that through her I too may have children. So
she gave him her maid Bilhah as concubine, and Jacob cohabited with her.
Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.

That was indeed a strange custom, and a cruel one at that. Why is it nobody
ever thought to ask the maids how they felt about it? I just don't think it's
ethical to subjugate women to the status of mere breeder stock.

Those who give their babies away in adoption, often don't want to see them
when they're born-- not even a glimpse; they don't even want to know their
gender. They want their baby delivered and whisked out of the room
immediately with no more feeling than doing their business in the lou.
Women who get abortions typically do not want to see a sonogram of their
babies nor listen to its heartbeat because that's just too bonding and
sensitive. Pharaoh's daughter (Ex 2:6) fell apart when she gazed upon baby
Moses weeping. What normal woman can resist something like that?

The maid's baby would be legally Rachel's, but she would never be the
biological mother. Nothing can ever change a thing like that.

Gen 30:6 . . And Rachel said: God has vindicated me; indeed, He has
heeded my plea and given me a son. Therefore she named him Dan.

Dan's name means judge, and/or the past tense: judged. (or possibly: a
judgment)

In Rachel's mind, Bilhah's success proved that God wasn't withholding
children from her for being a sinner, as Jacob had insinuated. But Dan
wasn't really Rachel's child. He was only hers by adoption.

But who was going to nurse Dan? There was no such thing as formula in
those days. Somebody had to be his wet nurse. Well . . what about Dan's
biological mom? Didn't she just go through a pregnancy? So Dan remained
with his biological mother at least until he was weaned; and probably longer
too. It wasn't like they all lived miles apart. All four women were practically
living under the same roof.

So although Dan was reckoned legally Rachel's child, he wasn't taken away
from his mother Trouble is; Bilhah became a single mom with no husband.
But she wasn't really alone. At least she had Dan; and her boy had Jacob;
and everyone was together, in one way or another.

I am he,
As you are he,
As you are me,
And we are all together.
(The Beetles; I Am The Walrus, 1967)
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Gen 30:7-8 . . Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a
second son. And Rachel said; A fateful contest I waged with my sister; yes,
and I have prevailed. So she named him Naphtali.

rayyyrrr! scratch! Man that woman was scrappy! No second place winner;
Rachel would keep kicking at you even if her arms were pinned down on the
mat. Move over Chyna! (Chyna used to be a WWF professional female
wrestler)

"Naphtali" is from Naphtaliy (naf-taw-lee') which means: my wrestling. Not
just any wrestling, but "my" wrestling. Apparently Rachel took things very
personal. The bitter rivalry between her and Leah had become the total
focus of Rachel's life.

NOTE: Jacob could've easily disowned Naphtali by simply emancipating
Bilhah; same as his grandpa Abraham broke with Ishmael by emancipating
Hagar.

Gen 30:9 . .When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her
maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as concubine.

Since Jacob favored Rachel, when did he find time for Leah and Zilpah? Well;
don't women have a certain time of the month? It was very unsanitary in
those days to sleep with women during their period and, in fact, was later
forbidden by the laws of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with
God. (Lev 15:19-24, 18:19)

So every month, like clockwork, Jacob was forced to sleep with Leah
whether he liked it or not. I guess he could have slept on the couch, but that
would look stupid. So Leah got a shot at him at least one week a month. And
she made the most of it, you can be sure of that! So now she farmed him
out to Zilpah's bed for that week to see what would happen. If Rachel could
have children by her maid, then by golly Leah was going to do it too. Boy,
those sisters were really at war!

Gen 30:10-11 . . And when Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son, Leah
said: What luck! So she named him Gad.

"Gad" is from gad (gawd) which means: a troop. (chuckle) Leah was having
enough boys to field a recon squad.

Gen 30:12-13 . .When Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son, Leah
declared: What fortune! meaning, Women will deem me fortunate. So she
named him Asher.

Well; what had the local women been deeming her up till then? Women can
be so cruel to each other. Leah wasn't attractive, and she was getting up in
years before she met Jacob. Women in Leah's neighborhood very likely
made her the object of sneering gossip: "Oh, here comes that old maid.
Hasn't she found a husband yet? Poooooor thing; tsk." And they would put
on their best pity faces for Leah as she walked by.

"Asher" is from 'Asher (aw-share') which means: happy.

Gen 30:14 . . Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben came upon
some mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel
said to Leah: Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.

Mandrake is the common name for any of a genus of herbs. The species to
which the name is particularly applied has two varieties, vernal and
autumnal, both native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions and
especially to Greece. The whole plant has a fetid odor. As late as the Middle
Ages, a dose of the oddly shaped root was sometimes given to patients as a
narcotic before surgical operations. In the United States, mayapple is often
called mandrake.

The mandrake has traditionally been an object of superstition, largely
because of the resemblance of its forked root to the human figure. Used as
an aphrodisiac, the mandrake was also variously regarded as a charm for
pregnancy-- a sort of fertility drug --also for invulnerability, and for
discovering treasure.

Leah certainly didn't need mandrakes to have children. She was doing just
fine without a charm or a fertility drug. But she may have wanted them
around the house for medicinal purposes and home remedies. Rueben was
trained to recognize mandrakes and he brought them home because he
knew his mom would want them: and of course Rachel would want them too
because she was infertile.

Gen 30:15a . . But she said to her: Was it not enough for you to take
away my husband, that you would also take my son's mandrakes?

Of the two sisters, Leah is the only one to label Jacob "my" husband.
Personally, I don't think Rachel ever really thought too much of Jacob.

One of the very first social skills children learn from their parents is sharing.
Jacob's family was so bitterly divided that his wives, two blood kin sisters,
were not even disposed to display even the simplest of graces towards each
other. In other words, Leah was saying: if you want some mandrakes, go
out and find your own!

Gen 30:15b-16 . . Rachel replied: I promise, he shall sleep with you
tonight, in return for your son's mandrakes. When Jacob came home from
the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said: You are to
sleep with me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes. And he lay
with her that night.

Haw! Jacob became a gigolo in his own home. His wives were not only
fighting amongst themselves because of him, but they were bartering for
him like a commodity too. Jacob was sure in a pickle. He was probably like
most men; just wanting peace and quiet in his own home. If that's what the
women arranged for him that night, well alright; if it made them happy and
kept the noise down then what the hey.

You would think the home life of the patriarchs would be the most sterling
role models you could ever want. But no. They were actually pretty
disappointing. And why was that? Becuz they were people. They weren't a
celestial breed of supernatural beings whose home planet was located out in
space somewhere between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.

No, the patriarchs didn't fall down from Jupiter as a superior race of
extragalactic agents, nor did they draft in on the tail of a comet and drop off
in the land of Palestine. None of that. They were just as human as anybody
else and they were all slaves to human proclivities and predilections right
along with the rest of the Adams' family.
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Gen 30:17 . . God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore him a fifth
son.

God was favorably inclined to grant Leah's wishes. But why doesn't God
grant the wishes of all barren women? Is that fair? Why is God sensitive to
some while ignoring the feelings of others? I wish I could answer that. The
brutal fact is: God is merciful to whom He wishes to be merciful. Love it or
leave it; we're stuck with a God who has a mind of His own and does as He
pleases. (cf. Matt 20:1-15)

Gen 30:18 . . And Leah said: God has given me my reward for having
given my maid to my husband. So she named him Issachar.

Issachar's name is Yissaskar (yis-saw-kawr') which means: he will bring a
reward (or possibly; he is a reward). To Leah, Issachar really was worth his
weight in gold to her as a mother.

I really don't understand Leah's reasoning. Why would God approve of
putting her husband in bed with the maid? Sounds like a plot for a soap
opera to me. But nevertheless, Leah was happy with the way things turned
out.

You know, that really shows the importance that women in that day put
upon children. Leah was willing to share her husband with another woman
as long as it meant more babies for herself. Isn't that something? How many
women would feel that way today-- especially here in abortion-prone,
career-minded, day-care dependent, glass-ceiling, women's-lib, feminist
active America?

I would like to point something else out too. Leah was crazy about kids and
she was crazy about her husband. That is not so apparent with Rachel. She
only wanted kids out of envy for her sister's fertility. And she even sold
Jacob's affections for nothing more than some wild herbs. A lordly price.

I really shouldn't be too harsh with Rachel. I truly believe she was stuck in
an arranged marriage against her will. After all, it wasn't her idea to marry
Jacob. Her dad engineered the whole thing. And Leah had already worn the
shine off Jacob by the time Rachel got a shot at him so that was no big
treat. I just don't think Rachel's heart was really in it.

I feel sorry for her. She really should have been given a home of her very
own; not thrown into someone else's marriage to wreck it with strife and
rivalry-- most especially not her own sister's. Rachel deserved better than
that. She really got a raw deal in life, that's for sure.

Gen 30:19-20a . .When Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son,
Leah said: God has given me a choice gift; this time my husband will exalt
me, for I have borne him six sons.

So far, Leah is the only woman in the house calling Jacob "my" husband;
and from one night to the other, she never really knew where he'd be-- with
her, one of the maids, or with Rachel. Jacob probably had a toothbrush and
shaving gear in every one of their bathrooms.

Well . . Leah wanted her husband to live at home with her, not with one of
the other women. Sleeping with the others was just a fact of life around
there and she was getting used to it. Leah could deal with that. But when he
was done fooling around with the others, she wanted him to come home to
her, not stay overnight with one of them. Since God had blessed her with
the most boys, and the most children, it only seemed right in Leah's mind
that she had more claim on Jacob than anybody else and he really should be
bonded to her more than the others.

Gen 30:20b . . So she named him Zebulun.

Zebulin's name is from Zebuwluwn (zeb-oo-loon') or Zebuluwn (zeb-oo
loon'); or Zebuwlun (zeb-oo-loon') which mean: habitation. Synonyms for
habitation are: occupancy, residence, domicile, and home. In other words,
Zebulin is where a man hangs his hat.

Gen 30:21 . . Last, she bore him a daughter, and named her Dinah.

Dinah's name is from Diynah (dee-naw'). That word is the feminine of duwn
(doon) which means: judgment, justice. and/or fair play.

You can bet Dinah was an instant hit with the women. Now they had
someone to make dolls for, and cute little dresses, and tiny little knickers.
And they could show her how to paint her fingernails, perm her hair, and put
on make-up and eye shadow. I would guess that Dinah did more to help the
women forget their differences and become friends than anything else
around there.

And Jacob no doubt liked her immensely. It is just about impossible for a
normal man to resist the charms of a bouncy little cherub. I've seen the
toughest blue collar beasts you can imagine become mushy morons around
little girls. When one of those teensy sweethearts puts her chubby little arms
around a man's neck and says "Daddy, I love you" it's all over but the burial.
If sons were indeed prized in those days, then the daughters were icing on
the cake.

NOTE: Dinah is the very first girl on record born to the people of Israel.
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Gen 30:22a . . Now God remembered Rachel;

Does that mean the omniscient Almighty had somehow forgotten all about
her? (chuckle) No. God's memory works just fine. But I think God has a day
planner, sort of like the appointment books that professional people utilize to
plan their schedules.

Well; I think God had set a date for Rachel's pregnancy quite some time
before this event and as He turned the pages of His planner to check His
busy schedule; lo and behold there was Rachel. Most of us just mark our
calendars for appointments with doctors and dentists; but someone like God
no doubt sets up His appointments on a much grander scale than that. This
is all just conjecture, of course, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.

Personally I suspect that God's day planner is all in His head so He doesn't
have to keep a literal appointment book to remind Himself; though He does
seem to keep some literal books; e.g. the book of the living (Ps 36:28), the
book of the earth (Jer 17:13), and the lamb's book of life Rev 21:27.

Gen 30:22b . . God heeded her and opened her womb.

Does the word "heeded" mean Rachel finally decided to pray for a baby? I
think so. Some people are driven to drink by the problems of everyday life.
God's people are often driven to their knees.

Gen 30:23 . . She conceived and bore a son, and said: God has taken
away my disgrace.

It's one thing to adopt children, or take in foster kids, or become a step
parent. But nothing can take the place of having your very own. Rachel
possessed two legal children by her maid Bilhah. But those were really and
truly Bilhah's babies, not Rachel's. Until she had her very own, Rachel
remained low on the totem pole of feminine esteem.

Men just can't appreciate how important babies are to (normal) women.
Even tough women don't really feel like real women until they have a child. I
worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman many years ago when I was very
young. The owner of the business was married to a successful woman in her
mid forties who had no children of her own; and actually, never wanted any.

But whenever she was in the presence of moms, they made her feel like a
loser because in her mind, moms were the real women. In other words: she
was a freak of nature born without a mother's heart; and that is a fatal flaw
in any woman's character: business or otherwise.

That woman's confession amazed me because hers was a strong, assertive,
self-confident kind of personality with scratch-proof, dent-proof hide like
depleted uranium armor plating. But every suit of armor has a chink in it
somewhere and that was hers.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." (Ps
127:3-4)

Arrows are not only weapons of war, but also tools of readiness, strength,
and defense. In Rachel's day, children were old age security. They still are
for many people in third world countries; and for those of us who face
retirement on fixed incomes. When my wife and I finally wax old and feeble,
we hope our son will care enough about us to make sure we don't die
hungry and poverty-stricken.

Gen 30:24 . . So she named him Joseph, which is to say: May The Lord
add another son for me.

Joseph's name is from Yowceph (yo-safe') which means: let him add (or
perhaps simply the active participle: adding)

Yowceph is the future tense of yacaph (yaw-saf') which means: to add or
augment (often adverbial, to continue to do a thing) So in colloquialism,
maybe Rachel was really saying: Yeah! Keep 'em comin'.

Gen 30:25-26 . . After Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban: Give
me leave to go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and my
children, for whom I have served you, that I may go; for well you know what
services I have rendered you.

Jacob had agreed to remain with Laban for fourteen years. Well, time's up,
and Laban had no further moral or legal claim either upon Jacob or upon his
family.

Gen 30:27 . . But Laban said to him: If you will indulge me, I have learned
by divination that The Lord has blessed me on your account.

The divination that Laban was talking about was a dark art. The word for
"divination" is from nachash (naw-khash') which means: to hiss, i.e. whisper
a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate.

Nachash was one of the sinful practices that God condemned in the
Canaanite peoples. (Deut 18:9-14)

Apparently, somewhere along the line, Laban became very puzzled how
Jacob was doing so well in animal husbandry. In the fourteen years that
Jacob worked for him, his flocks not only increased; but they increased
beyond reason.

So he consulted with a mystic, seeking to find out the secret of Jacob's
success. Lo and behold, the diviner discovered Jacob really had no trade
secrets to hide at all. He was actually under Yhvh's auspices-- Abraham's
god --whom Laban didn't worship himself but at least recognized as an
option.

Laban was justifiably reluctant to let Jacob go. He prospered greatly because
of Jacob's abilities and because of his faithfulness; and especially because of
his connection to Abraham's god. He was willing to strike almost any bargain
that would keep Jacob on the job working for him. Once before he had
gotten the better part of the bargain by letting Jacob name his price; so now
he made the same proposition again.
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Gen 30:28 . . And he said: Specify your wage to me and I will give it.

The wage Laban had in mind wasn't an hourly rate or monthly salary like we
typically think of wages. Pay was a separate matter to be negotiated later.
The deal they would make concerned what it would cost Laban to keep Jacob
working for him. In other words; a signing incentive.

Gen 30:29-30a . . But he said: You know well how I have served you and
how your livestock has fared with me. For the little you had before I came
has grown to much, since the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned.

Yes, Laban knew very well how fortunate he was to have Jacob working on
his ranch. But Jacob just wanted to be sure his uncle Laban didn't think
Jacob was too stupid to know it. Jacob rarely stood up for himself. But this
time the circumstances required him to be firm.

Gen 30:30b . . And now, when shall I make provision for my own
household?

Jacob spent fourteen years of his life making another man rich. Well, it was
high time he did himself some good for a change.

Gen 30:31-34 . . He said: What shall I pay you? And Jacob said: Pay me
nothing! If you will do this thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your
flocks: let me pass through your whole flock today, removing from there
every speckled and spotted animal-- every dark-colored sheep and every
spotted and speckled goat. Such shall be my wages.

. . . In the future when you go over my wages, let my honesty toward you
testify for me: if there are among my goats any that are not speckled or
spotted or any sheep that are not dark-colored, they got there by theft. And
Laban said: Very well, let it be as you say.

Jacob was supposed to do the culling. But Laban apparently didn't trust him
so took it upon himself to cull out all the mixed breeds and then hide them
three days distance in who knows what direction. So if Jacob was going to
acquire any sheep and cattle, he was going to have to get them from the
flocks of pure breeds; making it even more difficult for him to build a herd of
his own. I'm sure Laban figured that he would be able to hang on to Jacob
many, many years while the poor slob languished away waiting for the blue
ribbon flocks to produce mixed breed animals.

Laban really did have a criminal mind. He was incredibly unscrupulous,
greedy, selfish, and dishonest; and a very heartless man to boot. It's
difficult to digest he was really related to Abraham.

Gen 30:35-36 . . But that same day he removed the streaked and spotted
he-goats and all the speckled and spotted she-goats-- every one that had
white on it --and all the dark-colored sheep, and left them in the charge of
his sons. And he put a distance of three days' journey between himself and
Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban's flock.

By keeping the mixed breeds so far away from the blue ribbon flocks, there
was no chance Jacob might sneak around and put them together for mating
when Laban wasn't looking. Although there is no record of Jacob ever
cheating Laban, the old man surely remembered that Jacob wasn't totally
honest. He stole his brother's blessing, and tricked his dad. If Jacob would
scam his own close family, then he could sure do the same thing to
outsiders. You can hardly blame Laban for not trusting Jacob when the chips
were down.

Gen 30:37-39 . .Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and
plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was
in the rods. And he set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in
the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink;
and they became hot when they came to drink. So the flocks mated by the
rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

To the modern mind, what Jacob did was purely superstition; but in that
day, it wasn't. Jacob was experienced at animal husbandry. He had tended
flocks for several decades; beginning with his dad Isaac's, and then with his
uncle Laban's. Jacob wouldn't have tried the striped-rods trick if he hadn't
seen it work already before.

Who really knows what goes on in the minds of goats and sheep? There's a
patch of color down in the throats of young Great Blue Herons that when the
parents see it, the color makes them gag and vomit up the contents of their
stomachs into the craws of the growing youngsters. Even human beings are
stimulated by sight. Food we are about to eat stimulates the saliva glands,
plus there's the phenomenon of blushing, and nauseous reactions produced
by gruesome sights, and the effects of pornographic pictures stimulating the
reproductive apparatus are cases in point.

Jacob didn't use the striped-rods trick to produce multicolored animals, but
rather as a visual aphrodisiac to stimulate the parents to mate more often
than usual; thus increasing his chances of producing the kind of animals he
wanted for himself. When Laban's flocks saw the stripes on the sticks, they
went into what animal husbandry calls heat. From thence, Jacob counted on
recessive genes to do their work. Even though he never studied Mendelian
genetics, Jacob knew from experience that even blue-blooded animals
produce "black sheep" once in a while.

Leaving nature to its course, it could have been many years before Laban's
flock of blue-bloods produced enough hybrids for Jacob to move away
anytime soon. But up ahead we'll see that he had the advantage of a higher
power.
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Gen 30:40a . . And Jacob culled the lambs, and made the flocks face
toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban;

That trick was expected to have the same effect as looking at striped rods.

Gen 30:40b-43 . . and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them
with Laban's flock. Moreover, it came about whenever the stronger of the
flock were mating, that Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in
the water troughs, so that they might mate by the rods; but when the flock
was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban's and the
stronger Jacob's. So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large
flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Jacob's second strategy was to divide Laban's herd into two groups: the best
ones by themselves, and the inferior ones by themselves, so that he had
better control over the breeding process to his own advantage. Normally,
Jacob's husbandry tricks would have worked more to Laban's advantage
than Jacob's because statistically, the majority of the lambs born would have
been Laban's had not God intervened.

Apparently Jacob's strategy was so successful that he was able to invest in
other kinds of capital too; viz: slaves, camels, and donkeys. You know what?
Jacob's troupe was beginning to look like that of a sheik; and before long;
he's going to start acting like one too. The worm is beginning to turn.
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Gen 31:1 . . Now he heard the things that Laban's sons were saying: Jacob
has taken all that was our father's, and from that which was our father's he
has built up all this wealth.

People have a habit of using the "all" word just a little to the extreme. Jacob
certainly didn't take all of Laban's flock; only the lambs that were born
multicolored. However, what had seemed like a good bargain at the time
their dad made it, took a most unexpected, and distressing downturn.

Somehow Jacob's flock of cross-breeds was increasing at an alarming rate
and Laban's boys were seeing money on the hoof going to an outsider that
should have been theirs. Laban, who before was pleased as punch when
Jacob agreed to stay on, must now be wishing with all his heart that he
would leave. But the old boy couldn't get out of the contract without losing
face.

Gen 31:2 . . Jacob also saw that Laban's manner toward him was not as it
had been in the past.

You can usually tell when people hate your guts. Often they speak away, in
another direction, while you stand there talking to the side of their face, and
sometimes even to the back of their head. They are so overcome with malice
that they cannot even stand to look directly at you. And when they do look,
it's with narrowed, beady eyes; squinting, as if into the sun.

Gen 31:3 . .Then the Lord said to Jacob: Return to the land of your fathers
where you were born, and I will be with you.

Some people interpret that to read: And I will be waiting for you. They see it
that way because they insist that Jews can't be blessed when they're out of
the place of blessing; viz: out of Eretz Israel. But that's nonsense in Jacob's
case. God promised He to be with him and protect him wherever he went.
(Gen 28:15)

Time to go; and the timing couldn't be better. Laban really loathed Jacob by
now and I'm sure he didn't want his nephew working on the ranch any
longer. A falling out isn't necessarily a bad thing. I often take one as a
nudge that God wants me elsewhere. Sometimes you have to burn one
bridge before crossing another.

Gen 31:4 . . Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field, where his flock
was,

This next conversation was for the sisters' ears only so Jacob sprung an
unannounced briefing out in the pastures where no one would overhear and
go tattle to Laban. Jacob wants his wives' support for his next move; and he
needs to find out how they feel about their dad and if they are ready to
leave home and go out on their own. Rachel and Leah had never been away
from Haran, nor away from their dad's influence before now; nor has anyone
till now given them a say in their destiny.

Gen 31:5-7 . . and said to them: I see that your father's manner toward
me is not as it has been in the past. But the God of my father has been with
me. As you know, I have served your father with all my might; but your
father has cheated me, changing my wages time and again. God, however,
would not let him do me harm.

No matter what Laban did in his nefarious efforts to thwart Jacob's
prosperity, God would turn it to Jacob's advantage. He was indeed bullet
proof and it must have frustrated his father-in-law to no end.

Gen 31:8-9 . . If he said thus "The speckled shall be your wages" then all
the flocks would drop speckled young. And if he said thus: "The streaked
shall be your wages" then all the flocks would drop streaked young. God has
taken away your father's livestock and given it to me.

Laban's blatant lack of scruples is beyond belief. He and Jacob had agreed
that all the multicolored animals would be Jacob's. But whenever the
purebred flock began producing too much of a certain strain-- say, the
streaked ones --then Laban would change his mind and say that Jacob could
only keep the spotted ones.

Well, then God made the herd produce more spotted ones. And when Laban
would change the arrangement yet again and say that Jacob couldn't have
any more spotted ones and could only have the ones that were striped; then
God would see to it that striped babies were born. So, no matter which way
Laban went, Jacob always won.

Gen 31:10-12 . . Once, at the mating time of the flocks, I had a dream in
which I saw that the he-goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled,
and mottled. And in the dream an angel of God said to me: Jacob! Here; I
answered. And he said: Note well that all the he-goats which are mating
with the flock are streaked, speckled, and mottled; for I have noted all that
Laban has been doing to you.

There weren't really any streaked or speckled or mottled rams mating with
the ewes because Laban's animals were all blue ribbon. But people in those
days didn't know about recessive genes like we know about them today. So
God showed Jacob, in a way that he could understand, that the animals
doing the mating were the heterozygous ones. God, who can see past
outside colors, and deep into genetic code, made sure the right ones were
mating so Jacob's herd would increase to his advantage in spite of Laban's
interference. (chuckle) Talk about a stacked deck!

Gen 31:13 . . I am the God of Beth-el, where you anointed a pillar and
where you made a vow to me. Now, arise and leave this land and return to
your native land.

I wonder if Jacob could have used that as an excuse to depart; viz: tell
Laban that God appeared and ordered him to return to Canaan and make
good on his vow? Moses tried something like that with Pharaoh (Ex 3:18).
But Pharaoh still wouldn't let them go, so God had to destroy Egypt to make
him comply.

I seriously doubt that Laban would've ever let Jacob go on religious grounds.
It's possible that's why Jacob sneaked away: to avoid a violent confrontation
with his father-in-law that could lead to Laban's death. Leah and Rachel
might have difficulty with that. Though the man was a weasel, he was still
their dad.
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Gen 31:14-15 . .Then Rachel and Leah replied and said to him: Have we
then still a share and an inheritance in our father's house? Are we not
considered by him as strangers? For he has sold us and even totally
consumed our money!

Now the truth comes out. All along the girls had resented the calculating,
business-like way that their dad sold them into marriage; like they were
commodities: not even caring how they might feel about living with Jacob;
and especially how the sisters might feel about sharing the same husband.

And what an incredible louse! The girls were each supposed to get a dowry,
but Laban kept it back and then, of all things, spent their dowries on
himself; or, worse yet, on himself and on the girls' brothers. Weasel! That
reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers:

MEN ARE NOT PIGS!
Pigs are gentle, sensitive, intelligent animals.

Laban was obviously some sort of maladjusted sociopath with one of those
"borderline" personality disorders. I don't know what happened to him in life
to make him that way, but something was very wrong with that man. The
attitude he displayed toward his little girls was absolutely abnormal. It was
just as abnormal as any of the psycho dads in the news from time to time
who get prosecuted for abusing their own little flesh and blood daughters.

Gen 31:16 . .Truly, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father
belongs to us and to our children. Now then, do just as God has told you.

Yaaaaaay! (cheering section activity) That's it! We're out of here. The girls
are grown women with kids now and have to be thinking about their future.
Leah and Rachel are ready to leave home and kiss Haran good-bye forever.

Thank God that Rachel, Leah, and Dinah knew a man like Jacob or they
might have been poisoned on men all their lives. He wasn't perfect, yes that
is true. But Jacob was an excellent family man. For twenty years Rachel and
Leah observed and compared their brothers and their dad to Jacob. And
guess what. They much preferred to live with Jacob. He was fair, sensitive,
caring, accommodating, and always looking out for their best interests and
letting them have their own way whenever possible.

You know, Jacob didn't have to sleep with the maids. He could have put his
foot down and refused. But he did it to soothe his wives. I'm sure he was
aware of their rivalry amongst themselves and tried to help keep the peace
as best as he could. Life wasn't easy for Jacob; having to live with two
miserable women.

But he was willing to go the extra mile; and even let the girls have a say in
big decisions effecting the family's future. In the culture of that day, he
really didn't have to. Do you think Laban or his boys would have been
concerned about how the girls might feel about moving away to a new land?
No way. Their dad and brothers were nothing like that. They would have just
simply marched in and barked an announcement: Okay everybody; start
packing! We leave for California in two days!

Gen 31:17-18 . .Thereupon Jacob put his children and wives on camels;
and he drove off all his livestock and all the wealth that he had amassed, the
livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his
father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

That must have been quite a sight. Camels and people and supplies, dust
billowing everywhere, with Jacob's drovers moving the herds, followed by a
remuda of burros bringing up the rear. It was a real old fashion trail drive,
kind of like an 1840's wagon train. The girls must have been very excited to
be making their very first long-distance trek away from home. Rueben and
his brothers of course saw it as one big adventure. Yahoooooo! Move 'em
out! Beer-sheba or bust!

Gen 31:19 . . Meanwhile Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel
stole her father's household idols.

Labans's household gods may have corresponded to ilani-- family gods of
the Nuzi household, and to the Roman's penates --household gods who were
thought to protect food supplies and assure the general well-being of the
family.

Since Laban was known for divination, some have suggested that Rachel
may have stolen his gods in order to prevent him from discovering Jacob's
whereabouts. However, I think Rachel just wanted those gods for their
potential access to providence.

Gen 31:20-21 . . Jacob kept Laban the Aramean in the dark, not telling
him that he was fleeing, and fled with all that he had. Soon he was across
the Euphrates and heading toward the hill country of Gilead.

There's a note in the JPS Tanakh concerning the phrase: "Jacob kept Laban
the Aramean in the dark". The actual Hebrew says: he stole Laban's mind.
So Rachel ripped off Laban's religion, and Jacob took his brains. ☺

The precise route Jacob took to go home is uncertain. It's hard to believe
that he came directly south through the Syrian Desert on the back side of
Mt. Hermon. Maybe he did, I don't really know; but it sure looks that way

The region of Gilead is on the east side of the Jordan Valley in between Yam
Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the Dead Sea. Why Jacob didn't proceed
down through Lebanon and the West Bank I'm not sure; except maybe he
was in a very big hurry to get away from Laban and back on relatively safer
home turf. The Gilead route would eventually take him into the Jordan
Valley, one of the best sources of water and pasture for his animals. In
Abraham's day, the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere, like the
garden of God. It was probably still in pretty good shape yet in Jacob's.

Nowadays, usually all that travelers really need are gas stations and motels.
But in that day, the selection of a route was always dictated by the need of
water and pasture for the animals; not only the herds, but also the ones
people rode upon. The Jordan Valley was a relatively hazardous route
because lions lived in that area back in Jacob's day; so his drovers would
have to guard the livestock day and night to protect them from predators.
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Gen 31:22 . . On the third day, Laban was told that Jacob had fled.

Laban was off some distance from home shearing his sheep, which usually
included a festival of some sort. The messengers probably waited till the
shearing was done, and the party was over, before laying the bad news on
ol' Laban.

I'd imagine he must have been absolutely livid with rage; and probably got
so worked up he actually turned red and began perspiring. Defeat is one
thing. But to be beaten by kin, by a nephew no less, was unbearable.

Gen 31:23 . . So he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance
of seven days, catching up with him in the hill country of Gilead.

It took Jacob ten days to go the same distance Laban covered in seven--
that is if Laban departed right away without delay; which he probably didn't.
It would take at least a day or two to round up all his relatives and prepare
for the journey. Laban's contingent had an advantage though. They weren't
encumbered by herds and women and children, so they could cover a whole
lot more ground in one day than Jacob's troupe.

Gen 31:24 . . But God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream by
night and said to him: Beware of attempting anything with Jacob, good or
bad.

The Stone Tanach reads: Beware lest you speak with Jacob either good or
bad.

But if God meant for Laban to stay completely away from Jacob and not say
a single word to him, Laban would have gone home right then and there
because he knew better than to mess with Jacob's god. Maybe Laban didn't
worship Yhvh, but did at least fear Him. The book of Revelation tells of
people who are absolutely terrified of God, but yet still refuse to submit.
(Rev 6:12-17, Rev 16:10-11)

Gen 31:25 . . Laban overtook Jacob. Jacob had pitched his tent on the
Height, and Laban with his kinsmen encamped in the hill country of Gilead.

Once Laban's scouts located Jacob's troupe, his contingent made camp for
the night and moved on up the next day; probably very early before Jacob's
caravan could get up and moving again.

What a chore that must have been. First everyone had to be fed breakfast,
which meant a whole lot of cooking. Somebody had to round up firewood for
the portable ovens. Then the women prepared the meals, which must have
been work itself since no one had packaged foods in those days. Then they
had to do the dishes, repack, dismantle the tents, and load everything back
on to the camels and donkeys. Meanwhile the drovers were out tightening
up the herds and rounding up strays.

Into this busy scene rode MadDog Laban and his trigger-happy posse.

Gen 31:26-27a . . And Laban said to Jacob: What did you mean by
keeping me in the dark and carrying off my daughters like captives of the
sword? Why did you flee in secrecy and mislead me and not tell me?

Duh. Like he really didn't know? Laban's kind are all alike. In my 70+ years,
I've seen enough of them to know. Jerks like him are never in the wrong
about anything; ever. And they always attempt to throw suspicion off
themselves by trumping up a hollow charge against the very people they
wronged. One of their favorite demands is: What's the matter with you; why
are you acting like that? They are so aggravating with their perpetual habit
of feigning a pious ignorance of their own self-generated bad circumstances.

Like captives of the sword? What does that imply-- that Jacob kidnapped
Rachel and Leah and made slaves out of them? What utter nonsense! They
were his wives as Laban very well knew!

And did he insinuate that Jacob dragged the girls (excuse me; the full-grown
married women) away from Haran against their will? Laban himself was
likely wont to drag a spouse around the whole world regardless of how she
might feel about it. Why would it be wrong for Jacob to do it but not wrong
for Laban? And that is another of his kind's traits. They are so quick to take
the high moral ground and make the rules for everyone else to follow while
at the same time fully exempting themselves from the very same standards.

NOTE: It's very interesting that Laban never even dreamed that Jacob
consulted with Rachel and Leah first prior to departing for Isaac's turf. No
doubt because that was something he would never do himself.

Gen 31:27b . . I would have sent you off with festive music, with timbrel
and lyre.

What a bare-faced lie. The only music Laban would have arranged for is
some to accompany himself while he danced on Jacob's grave.

Gen 31:28a . .You did not even let me kiss my sons and daughters good
bye!

The word for "sons" is ben (bane) which means a son (as a builder of the
family name), in literal and figurative relationships, including grandson,
subject, nation, quality or condition. Ben isn't always used to denote a
specific gender, nor always used in genetic applications. In Gen 6:2 it simply
refers to pious men rather than God's biological progeny. The New
Testament equivalent of ben is huios (hwee-os') which means a child of
either gender; e.g. Gal 4:6, 1John 3:1-2

Laban probably never kissed them before anyway, so why should Jacob
think he would want to do it now? Didn't it ever occur to Laban's enormous
conceit that maybe his offspring might all be glad to be rid of him?

Gen 31:28b-29a . . It was a foolish thing for you to do. I have it in my
power to do you harm;

Jacob's uncle is the king of meddlers. In Laban's imperialistic mind, Jacob
deserved punishment for failing to consult with His Lordship before pulling
up stakes and heading south. But Jacob has done nothing truly
reprehensible. He's a grown man with a right to his own destiny. Jacob owes
his uncle nothing; not even an explanation because the man is nothing less
than a demon's seed; and on top of that a thoughtless bully and a
stupendous bigot.
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Gen 31:29b . . but the God of your father

The "god of your father" is all the same as saying your family's god. There a
humorous difference between Jacob's family god and Laban's family gods.
Jacob's family god can't be kidnapped and carried around in a saddle bag.

Gen 31:29c . . said to me last night: Beware of attempting anything with
Jacob, good or bad.

That was a no idle threat and I think the man knew it. If Laban tried to
persuade Jacob to return to Paddan-aram; he would die. If he harmed
Jacob; he would die. If he attempted to take the girls, the grandkids, and all
the flocks; he would die.

In other words, God told that man not to interfere with Jacob's life in any
way at all or He would give him good reason to regret it. From now on,
Jacob, and all that pertained to him, was off limits-- including Laban's ex
daughters, who were both married women; old enough to be on their own,
and completely out their dad's jurisdiction. When they were girls living at
home under their father's roof; then their dad could rule them. But married
women are ruled by their husbands.

"your husband . . . he will rule over you." (Gen 3:16)

Gen 31:30a . .Very well, you had to leave because you were longing for
your father's house.

Jacob had to leave because God issued him marching orders. And Jacob
really needed to go anyway. Life with uncle Laban had become unbearable.
It was humiliating, and it was suffocating. Jacob could never achieve his
greatest potential with a man like that always interfering and controlling his
destiny.

Leaving Laban's ranch was in truth, an act of self defense; not just for
Jacob, but for Leah and Rachel too. Their dad ruled them from the day they
were born. That's okay for minor children, but it is not an okay thing for
married women. Married women need to be royalty in a home of their own,
and be allowed to do their own thinking and to make their own decisions--
Princesses Of Quite A Lot, and Queens Of Everything.

I've heard it said that no one is truly a failure when they can always serve as
a bad example. (chuckle) Sort of like ex drunks, smokers, and drug addicts.
Well . . a man like Laban is a perfect example of a parent from hell. He's
probably the worst case scenario there is. Hopefully most of us will never
have to deal with an in-law like him.

But there are only two ways to deal with parents and in-laws from hell: 1)
stand up for your rights, and 2) get as far away as possible where their
meddling tendrils can't mess up your life. Jacob and the girls did both; and
Yhvh's providence was right there on hand to make sure they succeeded.

Gen 31:30b . . but why did you steal my gods?

Laban accused Jacob of taking the gods without even first inquiring if he
actually did. In the American system of criminal justice, a person is assumed
innocent until proven guilty; and the burden of proof is upon the accuser.
Not only is that a very good principle of civic government, but it is also an
excellent social skill and will go a long way towards nurturing friendships.

Gen 31:31 . . Jacob answered Laban, saying: I was afraid because I
thought you would take your daughters from me by force.

Jacob was probably right about that. He worked for Laban twenty years and
suspected the old boy would never let Jacob take the girls away from
Paddan-aram. Laban was definitely one of those over-my-dead-body kinds
of people. With them; it's not a matter of doing what's right and fair all
around; it's always a matter of who's going to win. But it's doubtful Laban
would've traveled all that way just to retrieve his daughters or his gods: I've
no doubt that what he really wanted was Jacob's livestock.

Gen 31:32 . . But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain
alive! In the presence of our kinsmen, point out what I have of yours and
take it. Jacob, of course, did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

It might appear that Jacob spoke rashly. But in that day, the code of
Hammurabi stipulated that the theft of temple gods was a death offense.
Apparently, it was truly a very serious crime in the culture of that day to
steal household gods as well.

NOTE: The Code of Hammurabi dates back to about 1772 BC. Precisely when
Jacob was born has not yet been accurately established. Some feel his birth
took place sometime between 2000 and 1700 BC.

Anyway; if Laban had been disposed to honor Hammurabi's code, then he
wouldn't have been so quick to condemn Jacob. But the man was a code
unto himself; which has been pretty obvious all along.
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Gen 31:33-35 . . So Laban went into Jacob's tent and Leah's tent and the
tents of the two maidservants; but he did not find them. Leaving Leah's
tent, he entered Rachel's tent.

. . . Rachel, meanwhile, had taken the idols and placed them in the camel
cushion and sat on them; and Laban rummaged through the tent without
finding them. For she said to her father: Let not my lord take it amiss that I
cannot rise before you, for the period of women is upon me. Thus he
searched, but could not find the household idols.

I tend to think that if Rachel was strong enough to travel across country on
the back of a jostling camel, then she was certainly strong enough to stand
for a moment or two.

It's likely that Rachel's choice of words was a subtle indication to her dad
that she had better sense than to plunk her derriere down on something as
sacred as the household gods where there would be a chance of desecrating
them with menstrual discharge; especially in a day when the sciences of
feminine hygiene and sanitation weren't all that advanced.

She may indeed have actually been in her period at the time. If not, then
Jacob himself would have suspected she was concealing something. You've
got to hand it to Rachel. Considering the stakes, she was one cool lady
under fire. Well; that was indeed one time that what some women deem
"the curse" came in very handy.

Gen 31:36-37 . . Now Jacob became incensed and took up his grievance
with Laban. Jacob spoke up and said to Laban: What is my crime, what is
my guilt that you should pursue me? You rummaged through all my things;
what have you found of all your household objects? Set it here, before my
kin and yours, and let them decide between us two.

It's a pity Jacob didn't have a force of armed men at his disposal like
grandpa Abraham did at one time. Jacob and his ranch hands were pastoral
men, totally untrained for war, and certainly not prepared to deal with a
bully like Laban. When people are unarmed, and unskilled in warfare, they
are easy prey, and might just as well kiss their human rights good-bye.
There are those who yearn for peace at any price. But freedom is not free.
In this evil world; freedom is a priceless treasure retained only by those with
enough mettle to defend for it.

Jacob endured countless indignities at the hands of his father-in-law, which
he suffered in silence for many years. All the pent up emotion which he
restrained for so long finally poured out in an unfettered tirade. Jacob
demanded, in the witness of the kin they both had in common, to justify
such a hot pursuit to catch him before he reached home with what was, in
every way, rightfully his own private property. Laban could only maintain an
embarrassed silence as Jacob spoke.

Gen 31:38a . .These twenty years I have spent in your service, your ewes
and she-goats never miscarried,

That is an incredible record. A certain number of still births are to be
expected in any herd. But they never occurred because Jacob was gentle: he
never whipped the animals, nor drove and fatigued Laban's herds like some
overly zealous, insensitive shepherds might do; especially with flocks that
belong to someone else and are not their own. And plus, Laban knew very
well himself from divination, that Jacob's god ever watched over the
pregnant animals so Laban could prosper under Jacob's care.

Gen 31:38b . . nor did I feast on rams from your flock.

It was a shepherd's right to feed himself with meat from a flock he was hired
to tend. But Jacob never exercised that right.

Gen 31:39 . .That which was torn by beasts I never brought to you; I
myself made good the loss; you exacted it of me, whether snatched by day
or snatched by night.

If Jacob had but brought the remains in to show Laban, it would have would
cleared him of any suspicion of negligence in guarding the herds from
predators. But by not bringing them in, he automatically took the blame for
their loss and paid for them out of his own pocket rather than make Laban
absorb the loss. Why Jacob did that I don't know because he sure didn't
have to. All he had to do to prove to Laban that he was there on the job
guarding the herd from predators, was to demonstrate that he drove them
away before they could finish eating their prey. Only a man truly looking out
for the best interests of his master would ever do what Jacob did.

Gen 31:40 . . Often, scorching heat ravaged me by day and frost by night;
and sleep fled from my eyes.

Pastoral life takes its toll on men. Just look at some who have been ranching
and farming for a number of years. They are old way before their time. The
sun and the elements give them shoe leather faces lined with deep creases.
Jacob, by the way, was at least 95 at this time and probably looked 150
after all those years out on the range with his father Isaac's herds, and
later; his uncle Laban's.

Gen 31:41 . . Of the twenty years that I spent in your household, I served
you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks;
and you changed my wages time and again.

Jacob reminded Laban of his service of twenty years, fourteen of which had
been simply for the privilege of marrying his daughters. He didn't mention
Laban's deception (probably for Leah's sake), which had doubled the length
of his service in return for a woman he didn't want in the first place.

In spite of all the good, of all his conscientious service, and of all the charity
that Jacob had lavished undeserving upon Laban, the man revised his
agreement with Jacob ten times in an evil-minded attempt to garner all the
gains for himself and to prevent his own nephew from prospering. The man
sure knew how to repay loyalty. Yeah-- right in the teeth. And in the end, he
fully intended to send his nephew away totally empty handed-- if indeed he
would even spare Jacob's life.

It would require a college degree in criminal psychology to understand what
makes a man like Laban tick. He was really too messed up to comprehend.
But it's obvious that Laban so hated Jacob that he couldn't stand letting him
keep a single thing that once belonged to himself. You know, even if there
were no hell, one would have to be constructed to quarantine people like
Laban because there is nowhere else for them to go. The kingdom of God is
a place of peace and kindness. If certain undesirables like Laban were
allowed in the kingdom of God; in short order they'd turn it into another
kingdom of men.
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Gen 31:42 . . Had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the
Fear of Isaac, been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed.
But God took notice of my plight and the toil of my hands, and He gave
judgment last night.

Anyone there that day, who had the slightest conscience at all, must have
looked upon Laban as one would look upon the most crooked, and upon the
most dishonest, unscrupulous, and unthankful of men with utter disgust.
Jacob told it like it was, and no one objected; and no one stood up to speak
in Laban's defense.

Gen 31:43a . .Then Laban spoke up and said to Jacob: The daughters are
my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks; all
that you see is mine.

Oh, give it up already!! Someone really needed to teach that communistic
crumb some principles related to the transfer of property. The girls were no
longer his daughters. They were married women: one flesh with a man who
worked very hard to both earn them and deserve them. The children were
fathered by Jacob, not by Laban. And the flocks were Jacob's by right, not by
loan nor by theft, nor by gift, nor by fraud. They were his honest
compensation; the very wages that Laban himself had agreed upon.

Everything on that mountain pertaining to Jacob was personal property and
Laban had no right to lay claim to any of it. He was just very lucky that
Jacob was not of the kind to show him the business end of a shotgun and
point him north, back the way he came.

When Laban finally had an opportunity to respond to Jacob's outburst, he
couldn't say anything at all by way of denial to Jacob's claims and charges.
Instead; he tried to divert attention away from the embarrassing facts by
changing the subject. Though even himself knew very well he was in the
wrong; a conceited man like Laban just can't bring himself to make public
acknowledgement of his guilt.

People like him typically try whatever means they can muster to shift the
blame away from themselves; or at least shift the attention away from their
own culpability to whatever real or imagined grievances they can find in
others.

Gen 31:43b . .Yet what can I do now about my daughters or the children
they have borne?

His question was just a smoke screen. Laban as much as said: It would be
contrary to all human sensibilities to do anything to bring grief to my own
flesh and blood. How could you possibly think I am capable of such a thing?

Laban's lack of integrity is almost beyond belief. He followed Jacob for seven
days and at least three hundred miles for the specific purpose of murdering
him and taking all the herds and all the people back to Paddan-aram. That
wouldn't have caused his kin grief? --to murder his grandkids' dad, and to
murder Leah's and Rachel's husband?

Gen 31:44 . . Come, then, let us make a pact, you and I, that there may
be a witness between you and me.

Instead of ending Jacob's life, which was no doubt his original intent, Laban
now proposes a very noble settlement-- a gentleman's non-aggression pact
between himself and Jacob.

Gen 31:45-46 . .Thereupon Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.
And Jacob said to his kinsmen: Gather stones. So they took stones and
made a mound; and they partook of a meal there by the mound.

Pillars were common in those days as watchers-- gods who intervene in the
affairs of men. (cf. Gen 28:22, Dan 4:17)

Gen 31:47a . . Laban named it Yegar-sahadutha,

Yegar-sahadutha is Aramaic, Laban's tongue, and means: heap of the
testimony, or cairn of witness.

Gen 31:47b . . but Jacob named it Gal-ed.

Gal-ed is Hebrew and means pretty much the same thing.

Gen 31:48-49 . . And Laban declared: This mound is a witness between
you and me this day. That is why it was named Gal-ed; And [it was called]
Mizpah, because he said: May the Lord watch between you and me, when
we are out of sight of each other.

Mizpah means watchtower. Laban wasn't the one who called it Mizpah. It
went on to become known as that because of his pronouncement.

Did Laban mean to imply that Jacob needed watching? During those twenty
years in Laban's employ, what had Jacob ever done on the sly to harm
his uncle? Jacob's sterling employment record was certainly sufficient to
recommend him to any normal person; but his uncle just can't stop himself
from denigrating Jacob right up to the bitter end of their association.

NOTE: All those years working on Laban's ranch, and all the time living with
with four women and a posse of kids, had made Jacob a better man; while
the same time forged his uncle into something worse than he was to begin
with.
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Gen 31:50 . . If you ill-treat my daughters or take other wives besides my
daughters-- though no one else be about, remember, God Himself will be
witness between you and me.

Had Jacob ever ill treated Rachel and Leah all those years in Laban's
employ? When had the girls ever complained to their dad about Jacob's
behavior? Was it really reasonable to assume he would ever abuse them
some day? No it wasn't. Jacob had always treated the girls with kindness
and consideration, and Laban had neither cause nor reason to think Jacob
would ever do otherwise. And since when did Laban really care about Rachel
and Leah anyway? He sold them like livestock, and spent their dowry on
himself.

Marry other women? Jacob wasn't a womanizer; nor had he ever been a
womanizer. He had only wanted just one in the first place; but was tricked
by Laban himself into a bigamous marriage with two sisters that Israel's
covenanted law would later forbid. But still, as a grown man, in the culture
of that day, Jacob had every right to a harem while Laban had no right
whatsoever to impose limits on the size and/or the nature of Jacob's family
relations.

Laban intended for the stone pile to be a boundary between himself and
Jacob so that Jacob would not come past it later on for revenge after God
made him strong enough to whup Laban. But that was another evidence of
his poor judgment of Jacob's character.

Jacob was definitely not a war-faring man; anybody could see that. He was
just like his dad Isaac; who was also a peaceable man, satisfied to simply
stop the strife between himself and his enemies. No way would Jacob ever
seek revenge. It just wasn't in his nature to do that. But Laban had a wicked
conscience. It wasn't beyond him to project his own base motives upon
others and assume they would do the very same things he himself would do
in their place.

NOTE: There are people in politics that are so Machiavellian that if they can't
find any dirt on you, they'll contrive some and throw it at their opponent in
hopes it sticks in the public's thinking; which it often does.

In return, Laban would promise to not come past the monument to cause
Jacob any harm; which he no doubt would if God hadn't intervened to
prevent it. What a hollow covenant. All Laban did that day was put up an
appearance of nobility and try his best to save face in an otherwise very
embarrassing situation. And the meanwhile heaping additional indignities
upon Jacob, and slurring the reputation of a very decent man.

NOTE: Bethuel's blood produced three really good women: Rebecca, Leah,
and Rachel. You gotta wonder what happened to the men. Why were they all
such misfires? Families like that are a genetic mystery. Just look at Cain and
Abel-- two brothers from the very same parents; yet one was a good man
and the other not. Go figure.
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Gen 31:51 . . And Laban said to Jacob: Here is this mound and here the
pillar which I have set up between you and me:

Laban didn't set up anything. He only participated in dedicating the pillar.
Jacob and his sons set it up with their own hands. And it was all their own
idea, not Laban's.

Laban likely reasoned that seeing as how he outranked his son-in-law in the
social order, then whatever they did together should be reckoned to Laban's
credit; sort of like the Pharaohs taking credit for their pyramids when it was
others who did the actual construction. (cf. Dan 4:30)

Gen 31:52 . . this mound shall be witness and this pillar shall be witness
that I am not to cross to you past this mound, and that you are not to cross
to me past this mound and this pillar, with hostile intent.

I think Laban was beginning to become just a little bit nervous because
there was something different about Jacob. He wasn't acting like the quiet,
humble, hard working hired hand Laban knew up in Paddan-aram. Jacob was
acting more like a sheik. And I think Laban was just a little unraveled by
that. He wasn't accustomed to that kind of a Jacob. And he knew it would be
impossible to defeat Jacob while Jacob's god watched over him. And I think
he was afraid that if Jacob ever did come up against him, Yhvh would make
sure he won.

Gen 31:53a . . May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor-- their
ancestral deities --judge between us.

Laban equated Abraham's God with Nahor's gods. Big mistake. Not all gods
are equal. But to a man like Laban, one is as good as another.

Gen 31:53b . . And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.

No way was Jacob going to honor Nahor's gods with an oath. And speaking
of that:

Here in America, the US Constitution protects religious liberty. However, the
Constitution does not require American citizens to respect all religions
equally. In our mind's eye, burning a holy book such as the Koran is no
more destructive than burning yesterday's newspaper; and the First
Amendment grants us the right to say so.

The US Government accommodates Arab feelings about Islam and the Koran
because it is in the USA's national interests to do so. But I'm not a politician,
nor do I desire to be one if it means compromising Christ's feelings about
religions that propagate teachings different than his. (cf. 1Cor 10:25-31,
1Cor 16:22, and Gal 1:8-9)

Anyway, that ended the meeting and Laban went back to his own camp for
the night.

Gen 31:54 . . Jacob then offered up a sacrifice on the Height, and invited
his kinsmen to partake of the meal. After the meal, they spent the night on
the Height.

Jacob's sacrifice wasn't an 'olah (o-law') which is incinerated to ashes. It was
a zebach (zeh'-bakh); which more resembles Passover, where the lamb is
both an offering and a meal. So then, a biblical sacrifice isn't eo ipso
something given up or destroyed, but essentially pertains to something
dedicated; in this case: a festive dinner in Yhvh's honor.

You can bet that was a very happy occasion. Jacob's family was finally going
to be rid of ol' MadDog Laban once and for all; and without violence too.
Since a good part of the day was wrecked already, they stayed and planned
on leaving the next day after an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. Next
hurtle: Big Red, a.k.a. Mr. Esau ben Isaac.
_
 

Webers.Home

Well-known member
May 28, 2018
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Gen 32:1 . . Early in the morning, Laban kissed his sons and daughters
and bade them good-bye; then Laban left on his journey homeward.

Apparently nobody wanted to kiss Laban back, nor bid him a good-bye.

The old boy didn't altogether lack at least some affection for his family. But
he surely realized they must have come to deeply resent him by now; and
he was probably beginning to regret some of his actions. But Laban still
couldn't bring himself to apologize to Jacob. That would have been just too
humiliating, especially in front of all his kin; him being their paterfamilias
and all.

No further mention is made of Laban nor his sons in the Bible. He has the
distinction of being one of Scripture's most outstanding examples of a
worldly, covetous man; grossly infected with an acute case of unbridled
avarice, and completely void of genuine faith in the one true god.

He knew about Yhvh, and he was certainly given a thorough enough witness
up at his ranch, and in his dreams. He had seen the reality of Yhvh in
Jacob's life, along with the power of Yhvh in His blessings and protections of
Jacob all those years. Laban himself had, as a consequence of associating
with Jacob, enjoyed Yhvh's providence, and became wealthy on account of
having Yhvh's man working for him on his ranch.

Nevertheless, Rebecca's brother remained a hard-core idolater/capitalist;
seeking material gain for himself to the exclusion of all other considerations.
Rather than seeking to follow only Yhvh, and gain the light of life, he merely
envied, and resented, the blessings that God bestowed upon his son-in-law.
Laban finally ended up with neither light nor blessings. Thus, Jacob and his
community remained in association with The Light, while Laban and his clan
melted into the darkness.

Gen 32:2 . . Jacob went on his way, and angels of God encountered him.

Since the angels had nothing to say to Jacob, they obviously weren't there
as messengers. I believe the angels came for an "effect". Here's what I
mean.

Jacob's primary concern during his trip back to Canaan wasn't really his
father-in-law's pursuit. His real concern was the inevitable confrontation with
his brother Esau. The appearance of those angels very likely boosted Jacob's
courage, and assured him God was still in the area and still looking out for
his safety and making good on the promise at Gen 28:15.

Today, in our time, it's very unlikely to encounter celestial beings. But the
messages we hear in church or in synagogue can do the job of boosting
courage just the same if we but hear those messages through an ear of
faith. Here's a good example.

In the third chapter of Isaiah, God predicted, through preaching, that terrible
things were in store for Jerusalem. I mean really terrible things that would
give you a bad case of butterflies in your stomach. You can imagine the
effect that had on those who heeded what the prophet was saying. Well, God
didn't want His believing followers worrying themselves that the impending
doom was evident that God had tossed them aside, so this is what He said
to them; through the preacher:

"Hail the just man, for he shall fare well; he shall eat the fruit of his works."
(Isa 3:10)

God wanted His believing followers to know that although they would have
to live through all those horrible judgments, it didn't mean they had lost His
favor; they would just be collateral damage, so to speak. Well, Jacob can't
escape his brother, but regardless of how it turned out; God would still be on
his side.

Webster's defines "courage" as: mental or moral strength to venture,
persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Courage is an excellent
virtue; and it's interesting who has it and who doesn't.

Fearless people aren't courageous. Scaredy cats facing their fears are the
ones with courage. Fearless people are too often reckless and take foolish
chances; whereas scaredy cats tread lightly. They're the ones with true
valor; which Webster's defines as strength of mind or spirit that enables a
person to encounter danger with firmness; viz: personal bravery.

Fearless people haven't a clue what bravery is. They wade into life afraid of
nothing. Fearless people have nerves of steel; whereas those who face life
with bravery, courage, and valor possess a different kind of mettle. They
don't have nerves of steel; instead: they have resolve.

Well, Jacob was very nervous about meeting with his brother. His next
adventure would take all the courage, and the valor, and the bravery he
could muster. The appearance of those angels must have gone a long way
towards beefing up his resolve to see it through.

Gen 32:3 . .When he saw them, Jacob said: This is God's camp. So he
named that place Mahanaim.

The word "Mahanaim" is from Machanayim (makh-an-ah'-yim) which means:
double camp and/or two camps. One camp was Jacob's and the other was
God's. Man and God, in friendly proximity, united in a common purpose. Too
cool.
_