Jacob asks Laban for leave of his land with his belonging, his wives, and children:
Genesis 31:27 – And Laban said unto him, if now I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have divined that Jehovah hath blessed me for thy sake.
Laban seems to be asking for more blessings from Jehovah due to Jacob’s presence, so he would like to collect on it, and asks Jacob to negotiate a new wage and stay (tarry). Jacob, with all aforementioned belongings, asks Laban when he can finally fend for his own household. Laban asks Jacob, in a set of words “what’s your price?”
Jacob responds by asking Laban to come to an agreement: Jacob will continue to tend to his flocks, but he will remove (day by day) all the imperfect animals, and bring them into his flock, leaving the perfectly colored and strong flock with Laban. Laban agrees. In a sort of earthly spell:
31:37 – And Jacob took him rods of fresh poplar, and of the almond and of the planetree; and peeled white streaks in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. And he set rods which he had peeled over against the flocks in the gutters in the watering-troughs where the flocks came to drink; and they conceived when they came to drink. And the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth ringstreaked, speckled, and spotted.
Stripping branches of their bark to expose the whiteness of the wood, he was able to manipulate the breeding of imperfect animals and direct the stronger animals into his flock. This is one topic that definitely requires study by the more botany minded. He directed the feeble of the lambs to Laban’s flock, strengthening his own. The sons of Laban became aware of this manipulation and passed it on to their father. Jacob realizes Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed (you think?) so Jehovah tells Jacob to return to the land of his fathers. Jacob calls upon his wives, daughters of Laban and accuses Laban of deceiving him due to wage changes. So, for revenge, Jacob manipulated the flock and their offspring.
Ok, so multiple times Jehovah has told Jacob that he will protect him, not to be afraid. So why couldn’t Jacob just walk away? He knew Laban was deceiving him through his wages, so why return deceit with more deceit?
Is Jacob really an example we should be following in modern times?
Jacob calls upon his cousin-wives, tells them to pack up, and explains to them the reason for his actions: he dreamed about it and God was the one who took the cattle of their father.
It wasn’t Jacob? It was God’s doing?
Rachel and Leah, knowing they no longer have an inheritance with their father, affirm with Jacob that it was time to leave. Inheritance? Was it all about money and possessions for them?
So on their way out, Rachel stole all the teraphim (household idols?) of her father, and Isaac packed up and left without informing Laban. Laban got word, and in 7 days, he caught up with Jacob and his daughters, accusing Jacob of carrying his daughters away “captives of the sword.” He also indicated, if he had told him to leave, Laban would have sent him off with mirth, songs, tabret and harp (a celebration).
31:31 – And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Lest thou should takest thy daughters from me by force.
After all the promises, dreams, visions, and miracles from Jehovah, Jacob STILL walks in fear (or does he not, but feigns fear to compromise his adversary?). He keeps breaking the promise Jehovah put on him: to not fear and go forth to where he commands. Laban, realizing his collection of gods had been stolen (Rachel) accuses Jacob of stealing them. Rachel, in an act of deception, hides them from not only her father as he searches for them, but also Jacob. The final conclusion of this conflict is both sides airing their issues: Laban claims all of Jacob’s possessions are his, Jacob claims they all belong to him because of the deceitful actions of Laban. So the form a covenant, a peace treaty, and form it using a heap of stones, which not only acts as a symbol of their treaty, but also a demarcation line that neither one will cross the stone to get to the other. The next morning, Laban says goodbye to his daughters and children, and returns home, peacefully, as he promised.
Moral of the story: It seems forming a peaceful covenant and demarcating it has worked somewhat well for these peoples in their culture. Where is Jehovah to create this peace between the peoples they say he created? Will he bless Laban for treating Jacob well?