|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 24, 25. - And God - Elohim is here employed, neither because the section belongs to the fundamental document (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso, et alii), nor because, though Laban had an outward acquaintance with Jehovah (vide ver. 49), his real religious knowledge did not extend beyond Elohim (Hengstenberg), but simply because the historian wished to characterize the interposition which arrested Laban in his wrath as supernatural (Quarry) - came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, - (cf. Genesis 20:3; Job 33:15; Matthew 1:20). This celestial visitation occurred the night before the fugitives were overtaken (vide ver. 29). Its intention was to guard Jacob, according to the promise of Genesis 28:15, against Laban's resentment - and (accordingly God) said unto him, Take heed - literally, take heed for thyself, the verb being followed by an ethical dative, as in Genesis 12:1; Genesis 21:16, q.v. - that thou speak not to Jacob - literally, lest the, speak with Jacob; μή ποτε λαλήσυς μετὰ Ἰακὼβ (LXX.) either good or bad. Literally, from good to bad, meaning that on meeting with Jacob he should not pass from peaceful greetings to bitter reproaches (Bush, Lunge), or say anything emphatic and decisive for the purpose of reversing what had occurred (Keil); or, perhaps more simply, say anything acrimonious or violent against Jacob (Rosenmüller, Murphy), the expression being a proverbial phrase for opposition or interference (Kalisch). (Cf. Genesis 14:50; 2 Samuel 13:23). Then (literally, and) Laban overtook Jacob. Now (literally, and) Jacob had pitched his tent - this was done by means of pins driven into the ground, the verb תָּקַע signifying to fasten, or fix anything by driving (cf. Judges 4:21; Isaiah 22:23, 25) - in the mount (vide supra, ver. 21): and Laban with his brethren (kinsmen, ut supra) pitched - his tent; not ἔστησε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς (LXX.) - in the mount of Gilead (vide supra, ver. 21).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night,.... It is probable that Laban came to Mount Gilead late in the evening, and so had no sight of, or conversation with Jacob until the morning; and that night God came to him, and in a dream advised him as follows: or it may be rendered, "and God had come", &c. (f); in one of the nights in which he had lain upon the road; though the former seems best to agree with Genesis 31:29; the Targum of Jonathan has it, an angel came; and the Jews (g) say it was Michael; by whom, if they understand the uncreated Angel, the Son of God, it is right:
and said unto him, take heed that thou speak not to, Jacob either good or bad; not that he should keep an entire silence, and enter into no discourse with him on any account, but that he should say nothing to him about his return to Haran again; for it was the will of God he should go onward towards Canaan's land; and therefore Laban should not attempt to persuade him to return, with a promise of good things, or of what great things he would do for him; nor threaten him with evil things, or what he would do to him if he would not comply to return with him.
(f) "et venerat", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; so Aben Ezra. (g) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.
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