|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:1-21 The affairs of these families are related very minutely, while (what are called) the great events of states and kingdoms at that period, are not mentioned. The Bible teaches people the common duties of life, how to serve God, how to enjoy the blessings he bestows, and to do good in the various stations and duties of life. Selfish men consider themselves robbed of all that goes past them, and covetousness will even swallow up natural affection. Men's overvaluing worldly wealth is that error which is the root of covetousness, envy, and all evil. The men of the world stand in each other's way, and every one seems to be taking away from the rest; hence discontent, envy, and discord. But there are possessions that will suffice for all; happy they who seek them in the first place. In all our removals we should have respect to the command and promise of God. If He be with us, we need not fear. The perils which surround us are so many, that nothing else can really encourage our hearts. To remember favoured seasons of communion with God, is very refreshing when in difficulties; and we should often recollect our vows, that we fail not to fulfil them.
Verse 4. - And Jacob went - being unwilling to approach the house lest Laban should discover his design (Rosenmüller) - and called Rachel and Leah - Rachel may be placed first as the beloved wife of Jacob (Wordsworth, Lange), scarcely as the principal wife in comparison with Leah, who was adventitia (Rosenmüller; cf. ver. 14) - to the field unto his flock. The expression "his flock" indicates that Jacob had abandoned Laban's sheep and taken possession of those which belonged to himself - probably in preparation for his departure.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jacob sent,.... Having this encouragement and direction from the Lord, which seems to have been given him in the field, while he was attending his flocks, he dispatched a messenger home to his wives, one of his servants or under shepherds. The Targum of Jonathan says it was his son Naphtali, whom he sent, because he was a swift messenger; the Targumist alludes to Genesis 49:21; but the former is more probable:
and called Rachel and Leah; Rachel is mentioned first, as being his proper and lawful wife, and is only called so, Genesis 46:19; and it was for her sake Jacob had Leah. Jacob, like a prudent man and an affectionate husband, thought proper to acquaint his wives with his case, and advise with them, and neither leave them nor take them away suddenly and by force; and therefore sent for them:
to the field unto his flock; where he was feeding his flock: this he might do for divers reasons; he might not judge it so proper and convenient to go home to them, since it might be difficult to get one of them to come to the apartment of the other; and it was proper they should be together, and that might cause some suspicion in Laban's family, who might listen to overhear what passed between them; and besides, he might be afraid of Laban and his sons, that being in such an ill temper they would lay violent hands on him, and do him a mischief; and therefore he sent for his wives to him in the field, where they could more privately and freely converse together, without being overheard or interrupted, and the flock in the mean while not neglected.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah—His wives and family were in their usual residence. Whether he wished them to be present at the festivities of sheep shearing, as some think; or, because he could not leave his flock, he called them both to come to him, in order that, having resolved on immediate departure, he might communicate his intentions. Rachel and Leah only were called, for the other two wives, being secondary and still in a state of servitude, were not entitled to be taken into account. Jacob acted the part of a dutiful husband in telling them his plans; for husbands that love their wives should consult with them and trust in them (Pr 31:11).
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