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Jacob’s time with Laban: Genesis 30–31

In the 20 years Jacob worked for Laban, it is clear that Laban valued his possessions, but did not fear or know God.

As Laban watched his own wealth grow under Jacob’s hand for 14 years, Laban’s response was:

30:27-28  “I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

Laban had no intention of honouring the promise. He initially tried to withhold Jacob’s wages (by removing the spotted, striped and speckled goats he had agreed Jacob could keep as payment). Despite this, Jacob’s flock of goats and his wealth eventually grew over the next six years, to the point that Laban’s sons grew jealous. Jacob decided to flee while Laban was away.

Laban seemed to be more concerned about his wealth than where it came from. After Jacob left, Laban chased Jacob and caught up with him, with the aim of getting his daughters, grandchildren, livestock and everything else back. Laban still believed he owned everything Jacob had worked for:

Genesis 31:43 … my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine

Only one thing stopped Laban: a dream from God warning him not to say anything, although this must have been interpreted less than literally, as Laban said something but without consequence from God. Perhaps it had more to do with threats/curses and blessings than of staying totally silent, or perhaps Laban was trying to rescue some dignity in front of his own relatives after a reprimand from God (and hoping God would be okay with it).

But the dream must have triggered at least a respect for God, as Laban finally let go. Their meeting place became a boundary, marked with a heap of stones.