Old Testament

Genesis 31
311Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything from our father. He has acquired all his wealth from things that belonged to our father.” 2From the look on Laban's face Jacob realized that his attitude toward him was not what it had been before. 3The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah and told them to come to the field where his flock was. 5He said to them, “I see the look on your father's face, and it is not favorable toward me as it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all of my strength. 7Your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ then all the flock gave birth to speckled young. If he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wages,’ then all the flock gave birth to streaked young. 9In this way God has taken away your father's livestock and given them to me. 10Once during mating season, in a dream I watched and saw male goats that were streaked, speckled, and spotted[] mating with the flock. 11The Angel of God called out to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I answered, ‘I am here.’ 12He said, ‘Look! All the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled, and spotted, because I have seen everything that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a memorial stone, and where you made a vow to me. Now get going, get out of this land, and return to the land where you were born.’”
14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Do we still have any share of the inheritance in our father's house? 15Isn't he treating us like foreigners? First he sold us. Now he has used up almost all the money he received for us. 16All the riches that God has taken away from our father belong to us and our children. Now do whatever God has told you to do.”
17Then Jacob got ready to go. He placed his sons and his wives on camels. 18He took with him all his livestock and all his possessions that he had accumulated, including the livestock that he had acquired in Paddan Aram. He set out to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
19Now when Laban had gone off to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods.[]
20Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was running away. 21So he fled with all that he had. He set out, crossed over the Euphrates River, and headed toward the hill country[] of Gilead.
22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23He took his relatives with him and pursued him for seven days. He overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream during the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not say anything to Jacob either good or bad.”
25Laban caught up with Jacob. Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban along with his relatives also set up camp in the hill country of Gilead[]. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? Why have you deceived me and carried away my daughters like prisoners of war? 27Why did you flee secretly and steal from me? Why didn't you tell me, so that I could have sent you away with a celebration and with songs, with drums and with lyres? 28Why didn't you allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters?[] By doing this you have acted foolishly. 29I have it in my power to hurt you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night and said, ‘Be careful that you do not say anything to Jacob either good or bad.’ 30But even if you were so eager to leave because of your strong desire to return to your father's house, why have you stolen my gods?”
31Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought that you might take your daughters away from me by force. 32But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, identify anything I have that belongs to you, and take it.” (Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the household gods.)
33So Laban went into Jacob's tent, into Leah's tent, and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find the gods. After he had left Leah's tent, he entered Rachel's tent. 34Rachel had taken the household gods and put them into her camel's saddle, and she was sitting on them. Laban felt all around the tent, but he did not find them. 35Rachel said to her father, “Do not be angry, my lord, because I cannot stand up in your presence. I'm having my period.” He searched, but he did not find the gods.
36Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. Jacob responded to Laban, “What is my crime? What is my sin that set you off in hot pursuit after me? 37Now that you have rummaged through all my belongings, what have you found there that came from your house? Set it out here in front of my relatives and your relatives, so that they can settle the case between the two of us. 38These twenty years that I have been with you, your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten rams from your flocks. 39I did not bring to you those that were torn up by wild animals. I bore the loss myself. You made me pay for all the losses, whether they were stolen by day or stolen by night. 40I was the one out there, consumed by the scorching heat of the day and by the frost at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41These twenty years I put up with this in your house: I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for a share of your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the God revered[] by Isaac, had been with me, you certainly would have now sent me away empty-handed. But God saw the oppression I suffered and the labor of my hands, and he rebuked you last night.”
43Laban answered Jacob, “These daughters are my daughters. These children are my children. These flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine, but what can I do today about these daughters of mine or about the children to whom they have given birth? 44Now come, let us make a covenant,[] you and I, and let it stand as a witness between me and you.”[]
45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial stone. 46Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” They collected stones and piled them up. They ate there beside the pile of stones. 47Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha,[] but Jacob called it Galeed.[] 48Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness between me and you this day.” So it was named Galeed 49and Mizpah,[] for he also said, “May the Lord watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another. 50If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take any wives in addition to my daughters, even if no one else sees it, understand that God is a witness between me and you.”
51Laban said to Jacob, “See this pile of stones and see the memorial stone that I have set between me and you. 52May this pile be a witness, and may the memorial stone be a witness that I will not cross over beyond this pile to you, and that you will not cross over beyond this pile and this memorial stone to harm me. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”
Then Jacob swore by the God revered by his father Isaac. 54Jacob offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to eat bread with him. They ate bread and stayed all night in the hill country. 55Early in the morning Laban got up, kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them. Laban departed and returned to his place.


  • 31:10 There is no consensus about the precise distinction of these three terms.
  • 31:19 Teraphim were household idols that may have been associated with inheritance rights to the family property.
  • 31:21 Or highlands. The word traditionally translated hill country is the same Hebrew word that means mountain. But in many cases, as it does here, it refers to highland regions, not to a mountain peak.
  • 31:25 The chase lasted about 300 miles
  • 31:28 sons and daughters seems to include both his daughters and his grandchildren.
  • 31:42 The Hebrew word used here is a rarer synonym for the word usually translated fear. Though it can mean dread, in this context it refers to reverence or awe.
  • 31:44 Or agreement
  • 31:44 The Greek Old Testament has an additional sentence: And he said to him, “Look, there is no one else with us. Look, God is the witness between me and you.”
  • 31:47 The name Jegar Sahadutha means Witness Mound in Aramaic.
  • 31:47 Galeed means Witness Mound in Hebrew.
  • 31:49 Mizpah means watch or lookout.