A Daily Genesis

Genesis 31:14-21

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] 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![/B]

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:

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.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] 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.[/B]

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!

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] 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.[/B]

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!

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 31:19 . . Meanwhile Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father's household idols.[/B]

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.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] 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.[/B]

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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