Genesis 31:26
And Laban said to Jacob, What have you done, that you have stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26-30) Laban said . . . —Laban reproaches Jacob, first, for carrying away his daughters secretly, which was an affront to them (Genesis 31:26) and an injury to his own feelings (Genesis 31:28); secondly, he tells him that he should have punished him but for the Divine warning; lastly, he accuses him of stealing his teraphim.

Captives . . . —Heb., captives of the sword, women carried off in war as spoil.

31:22-35 God can put a bridle in the mouth of wicked men, to restrain their malice, though he do not change their hearts. Though they have no love to God's people, they will pretend to it, and try to make a merit of necessity. Foolish Laban! to call those things his gods which could be stolen! Enemies may steal our goods, but not our God. Here Laban lays to Jacob's charge things that he knew not. Those who commit their cause to God, are not forbidden to plead it themselves with meekness and fear. When we read of Rachel's stealing her father's images, what a scene of iniquity opens! The family of Nahor, who left the idolatrous Chaldees; is this family itself become idolatrous? It is even so. The truth seems to be, that they were like some in after-times, who sware by the Lord and by Malcham, Zep 1:5; and like others in our times, who wish to serve both God and mammon. Great numbers will acknowledge the true God in words, but their hearts and houses are the abodes of spiritual idolatry. When a man gives himself up to covetousness, like Laban, the world is his god; and he has only to reside among gross idolaters in order to become one, or at least a favourer of their abominations.Laban's expostulation and Jacob's reply. What hast thou done? Laban intimates that he would have dismissed him honorably and affectionately, and therefore, that his flight was needless and unkind; and finally charges him with stealing his gods. Jacob gives him to understand that he did not expect fair treatment at his hands, and gives him leave to search for his gods, not knowing that Rachel had taken them.26-30. Laban said … What hast thou done?—Not a word is said of the charge (Ge 31:1). His reproaches were of a different kind. His first charge was for depriving him of the satisfaction of giving Jacob and his family the usual salutations at parting. In the East it is customary, when any are setting out to a great distance, for their relatives and friends to accompany them a considerable way with music and valedictory songs. Considering the past conduct of Laban, his complaint on this ground was hypocritical cant. But his second charge was a grave one—the carrying off his gods—Hebrew, "teraphim," small images of human figures, used not as idols or objects of worship, but as talismans, for superstitious purposes. By force and violence. A false accusation; for they freely consented, Genesis 31:14-16. And Laban said unto Jacob,.... Upon their meeting together; perhaps in some middle place between their two tents:

what hast thou done? what evil hast thou committed? what folly art thou guilty of? and what could induce thee to take such a step as this? suggesting that he could see no necessity for it; and as if he had done nothing that should occasion it, and that Jacob had done a very ill thing

that thou hast stolen away unawares to me: of this phrase See Gill on Genesis 31:20,

and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword; as were commonly done by a band of robbers that made incursions upon their neighbours, and plundered them of their substance, and carried away by force their wives and daughters; and such an one Laban represents Jacob to be, a thief and a robber; who had not only stolen away from him, but had stole away his goods, and even his gods, and carried away his daughters against their will: all which were false, and particularly the latter, since they went along with him with their free and full consent.

And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. What hast thou done?] Cf. Genesis 4:10. Laban’s reproach in Genesis 31:26-30 is expressed in terms of forbearance and injured innocence: why had Jacob fled secretly? why not suffer himself to be dismissed with dignity? For the sake of the God of Isaac Laban will say no more, but he must protest against the theft of his household gods.Verses 26-30. - And Laban (assuming a tone of injured innocence) said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, - literally, and (meaning, in that) thou hast stolen my heart (vide supra, ver. 20; and cf. ver. 27) - and carried away (vide ver. 18) my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? Literally, as captives of the sword, i.e. invitis parentibus (Rosenmüller); language which, if not hypocritical on Laban's part, was certainly hyperbolical, since he had already evinced the strength of his parental affection by selling his daughters to Jacob; and besides, so far as it concerned either Jacob or his wives, it was quite untrue, Rachel and Leah having voluntarily accompanied their husband in his flight. Wherefore didst thou floe away secretly, - literally, wherefore didst thou hide thyself to flee away; חָבַא (niph.), with an inf. following, corresponding to the similar construction in Greek of λανθάνειν with a part, and being correctly rendered in English by an adverb (vide Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 142) - and steal away from me (literally, and steal me, ut supra); and didst not tell me, that I might (literally, and I would) have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, - in Oriental countries those about to make a long journey are still sent away cantionibus et musicorum instrumentorum concentu (Rosenmüller) - with tabret, - the toph was a drum or timbrel, consisting of a wooden circle covered with membrane, and furnished with brass bells (like the modern tambourine), which Oriental women beat when dancing (cf. Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; Jeremiah 31:4) - and with harp! For a description of the kinnor see Genesis 4:21. And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons (i.e. the children of Leah and Rachel) and my daughters! It is perhaps judging Laban too severely to pronounce this complete hypocrisy and cant (Alford, Bush, Candlish, Gerlach), but equally wide of the truth is it to see in Laban's conduct nothing but generosity of feeling (Kalisch); probably there was a mixture of both paternal affection and crafty dissimulation (Delitzsch). Thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. The charge of folly in Old Testament Scriptures commonly carries with it an imputation of wrong-doing (cf. 1 Samuel 13:13; 2 Samuel 14:10). It is in the power of my hand - so the phrase יָדִי יֶשׁ־לְאֵל (cf. Deuteronomy 28:32; Nehemiah 5:5; Micah 2:1) is rendered by competent authorities (Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii), with which agree laxly, ἡ χειρ μου (LXX.), and valet manus men (Vulgate), though the translation "My hand is for God," i.e. my hand serves me as God (cf. Job 12:6; Hebrews 1:11), is by some preferred (Keil, Knobel, Jacobus) - to do you hurt: but the God of your father - the use of this expression can be rightly regarded neither as a proof of Elohistic authorship (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso, Davidson) nor as a sign of Laban's spiritual degeneracy (Hengstenberg, Wordsworth), since it is practically equivalent to Jehovah (vide Genesis 28:13), but is probably to be viewed as a play upon the sound and sense of the preceding clause, as thus: - "It is in the El of my hand to do you evil, but the Elohim of your father spake to me." Another instance of this play upon the sound and sense is to be found in vers. 19, 20 - "Rachel stole the teraphim that were her father's; and Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Syrian" (cf. Quarry on Genesis, p. 498) - spake unto me yester night, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob - literally, guard or keep thee for thyself (the pleon, pron. being added ut supra, ver. 24) from speaking with Jacob - either good or bad (vide on ver. 24). And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone (literally, going thou didst go - thou hast indeed gone), because thou sore longedst after thy father's house (literally, because desiring thou didst desire. The verb כָּסַפ, to be pale (whence כֶּסֶפ, silver, so called from its pale color), expresses the idea of pining away and languishing through strong inward longing), yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods? Laban had probably gone to consult his teraphim and so discovered their loss. Augustine calls attention to this as the first Scripture reference to heathen gods, and Calvin probably supplies the right explanation of the sense in which they were so styled by Laban, non quia deitatem illie putaret esse inclusam, sed quia in honorem deorum imagines illas colebat; vel potius quod Deo sacra facturus, vertebat se ad illas imagines (cf. Exodus 32:4; 1 Kings 12:28). "This complaint of Laban, that his "gods were stolen, show-eth the vanity of such idolatry" (Ainsworth). Cf. Judges 6:31; Judges 16:24; Jeremiah 10:5, 11, 15. "Thus Jacob deceived Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled;" - לב גּנב to steal the heart (as the seat of the understanding), like κλέπτειν νοο͂ν, and גּנב with the simple accus. pers., Genesis 31:27, like κλεπτειν τίνα, signifies to take the knowledge of anything away from a person, to deceive him; - "and passed over the river (Euphrates), and took the direction to the mountains of Gilead."
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