Reading 9/341, Genesis 31-33

Jacob goes home. He leaves without telling Laban, who chases after him. Rachel stole her father’s idols, but he cannot find them. Jacob and Laban swear an oath and depart in peace. Afraid of the reception Esau will give him, he sends presents ahead of him. Jacob prays to the Lord for protection. He wrestles all night with an angel. He gets a blessing from the angel. Jacob and Esau meet and depart in peace.
[A] Jacob's prayer on returning is so different from his prayer when he left for Laban's house. In 20 years, he has matured greatly in his understanding of God.
[B] Like his grandfather Abram who was renamed Abraham, Jacob is renamed Israel. This is significant, because, whereas before we followed one son and forgot the others, Israel is the father of the nation of Israel. All twelve sons (including Benjamin who is not born yet), though not his daughter(s), will be important in varying degrees. Each will be the father of one of the tribes of Israel.

...Genesis...

Jacob heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, "Jacob has taken away all that was our father's. From that which was our father's, he has gotten all this wealth." Jacob saw the expression on Laban's face, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. The Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers, and to your relatives, and I will be with you." Jacob sent for and called Rachel and Leah to the field of his flock, and said to them, "I see the expression on your father's face, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all of my strength. Your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. If he said, 'The speckled will be your wages,' then all the flock bore speckled. If he said, 'The streaked will be your wages,' then all the flock bore streaked. Thus God has taken away your father's livestock, and given them to me. It happened during mating season that I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which leaped on the flock were streaked, speckled, and grizzled. The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob,' and I said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Now lift up your eyes, and behold, all the male goats which leap on the flock are streaked, speckled, and grizzled, for I have seen all that Laban does to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you vowed a vow to me. Now arise, get out from this land, and return to the land of your birth.'"

Rachel and Leah answered him, "Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? Are we not thought of by him as foreigners? For he has sold us and has also devoured our money. For all the riches which God has taken away from our father are ours and our children's. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do." Then Jacob rose up and set his sons and his wives on the camels, and he took away all his livestock, and all his possessions which he had gathered, including the livestock which he had gained in Paddan-aram, to go to Isaac his father, to the land of Canaan. Laban had gone to shear his sheep.

Rachel stole the idols that were her father's. Jacob deceived Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he was running away. So he fled with all that he had. He rose up, passed over the river, and set his face toward the mountain of Gilead. Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. He took his relatives with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey. He overtook him in the mountain of Gilead. God came to Laban the Syrian, in a dream at night and said to him, "Take heed to yourself that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad." Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountain, and Laban with his kin encamped in the mountain of Gilead.

Laban said to Jacob, "What have you done, that you have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword? Why did you flee secretly and deceive me and did not tell me, that I might have sent you away with mirth and with songs, with tambourine and with harp and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now have you done foolishly. It is in the power of my hand to hurt you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Take heed to yourself that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.' Now, you want to be gone, because you greatly longed for your father's house, but why have you stolen my idols?" Jacob answered Laban, "I was afraid, for I said, 'Lest you should take your daughters from me by force.' But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. Before our kin, discern what of yours is with me and take it." Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

Laban went into Jacob's tent, into Leah's tent, and into the tent of the two female servants; but he did not find them. He went out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent. Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them in the camel's saddle and sat on them. Laban felt about all the tent, but did not find them. She said to her father, "Do not let my lord be angry that I cannot rise up before you; for the way of women is on me." He searched, but did not find the idols.

Jacob was angry, and argued with Laban. Jacob answered Laban, "What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me? Now that you have felt around in all my stuff, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kin and your kin that they may judge between us two. These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not cast their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. That which was torn of animals, I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it. Of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. This was my situation: in the day the drought consumed me and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away emptyhanded. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night."

Laban answered Jacob, "The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children whom they have borne? Now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between me and you." Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. Jacob said to his kin, "Gather stones." They got stones and made a heap. They ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, "This heap is a witness between me and you this day." Therefore it was named Galeed and Mizpah, for he said, "May the Lord watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another. If you afflict my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, though no man is with us; behold, God is the witness between me and you." Laban said to Jacob, "See this heap, and see the pillar, which I have set between me and you. May this heap be a witness, and the pillar be a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and that you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us."

Then Jacob swore by the fear of his father, Isaac. Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kin to eat bread. They ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain. Early in the morning, Laban rose up, kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Laban departed and returned to his place.

Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When he saw them, Jacob said, "This is God's army." He called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Jacob sent messengers in front of him to Esau, his brother, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom. He commanded them, saying, "This is what you shall tell my lord Esau: 'This is what your servant Jacob says. I have lived as a foreigner with Laban and stayed there until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to inform my lord, so that I may find favor in your sight.'" The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau. Not only that, but he comes to meet you, and four hundred men with him." Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and the camels, into two companies, and he said, "If Esau comes to the one company, and strikes it, then the company which is left will escape."

Jacob said, "God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord, who said to me, 'Return to your country, and to your relatives, and I will do you good,' I am not worthy of the least of all the loving kindnesses, and of all the truth, which you have shown to your servant; for with just my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he come and strike me, and the mothers with the children. You said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered because there are so many.'"

He lodged there that night, and took from that which he had with him a present for Esau, his brother: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels and their colts, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. He delivered them into the hands of his servants, every herd by itself, and said to his servants, "Cross over before me, and put a space between each herd." He commanded the first, saying, "When Esau, my brother, meets you, and asks you, saying, 'Whose are you? Where are you going? Whose are these before you?' you shall say, 'They are your servant Jacob's. It is a present sent to my lord Esau. Behold, he also is behind us.'" He commanded also the second, and the third, and all that followed the herds, saying, "This is how you shall speak to Esau when you find him. You shall say, 'Not only that, but behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.'" For, he said, "I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will accept me." So the present crossed over before him, and he himself lodged that night in the camp. He rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them over the stream and sent over that which he had.

Jacob was left alone and wrestled with a man there until daybreak. When he saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip socket was strained, as he wrestled. The man said, "Let me go, for day is breaking." Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed." Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." He said, "Why would you ask what my name is?" He blessed him there. Jacob called the name of the place Penuel: for, he said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." The sun rose on him as he crossed over Penuel, and he limped because of his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip on the hip socket, to this day, because he touched Jacob's hip socket in the sinew of the hip.

Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, Esau was coming, and with him four hundred men. He divided the children between Leah, Rachel, and the two handmaids. He put the handmaids and their children in front, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear. He himself passed over in front of them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck, kissed him, and they wept. He lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children, and said, "Who are these with you?" He said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant." Then the handmaids came near with their children, and they bowed themselves. Leah also and her children came near, and bowed themselves. After them, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company which I met?" Jacob said, "To find favor in the sight of my lord." Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; let that which you have be yours." Jacob said, "Please, no, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive the present at my hand, because I have seen your face, as one sees the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please take the gift that I brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." He urged him, and he took it.

Esau said, "Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before you." Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds with me have their young, and if they overdrive them even one day all the flocks will die. Please let my lord cross over before his servant, and I will lead on gently, according to the pace of the livestock that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord, to Seir." Esau said, "Let me now leave with you some of the folk who are with me." He said, "Why? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord." So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.

Jacob traveled to Succoth, built himself a house, and made shelters for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and encamped before the city. He bought the parcel of ground where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money. He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel [God, the God of Israel].

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