|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:43-55 Laban could neither justify himself nor condemn Jacob, therefore desires to hear no more of that matter. He is not willing to own himself in fault, as he ought to have done. But he proposes a covenant of friendship between them, to which Jacob readily agrees. A heap of stones was raised, to keep up the memory of the event, writing being then not known or little used. A sacrifice of peace offerings was offered. Peace with God puts true comfort into our peace with our friends. They did eat bread together, partaking of the feast upon the sacrifice. In ancient times covenants of friendship were ratified by the parties eating and drinking together. God is judge between contending parties, and he will judge righteously; whoever do wrong, it is at their peril. They gave a new name to the place, The heap of witness. After this angry parley, they part friends. God is often better to us than our fears, and overrules the spirits of men in our favour, beyond what we could have expected; for it is not in vain to trust in him.
Verse 46. - And Jacob said unto his brethren, - Laban's kinsmen and his own (vide ver. 37) - Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: - Gal, from Galal, to roll, to move in a circle, probably signified a circular cairn, to be used not as a seat (Gerlach), but as an altar (ver. 54), a witness (ver. 48), and a table (ver. 54), since it is added - and they did eat there - not immediately (Lange), but afterwards, on the conclusion of the covenant (ver. 54) - upon the heap.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jacob said unto his brethren, gather stones,.... Not to his sons, as the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi; these would not be called brethren, and were not fit, being too young to be employed in gathering large stones, as these must be, to erect a monument with; rather his servants, whom he employed in keeping his sheep under him, and might so call them, as he did the shepherds of Haran, Genesis 29:4; and whom he could command to such service, and were most proper to be made use of in it; unless it can be thought the men Laban brought with him, whom Jacob before calls his brethren, Genesis 31:37, are meant; and then the words must be understood as spoken, not in an authoritative way, but as a request or direction, which was complied with:
and they took stones, and made an heap; they fetched stones that lay about here and there, and laid them in order one upon another, and so made an heap of them:
and they did eat there upon the heap; they made it like a table, and set their food on it, and ate off of it; or they "ate by" it (o), it being usual in making covenants to make a feast, at least to eat and drink together, in token of friendship and good will. The Chinese (p) call friendship that is most firm and stable, and not to be rescinded, "stony friendship": whether from a like custom with this does not appear.
(o) "apud", "juxta", "prope"; see Nold. Concord. Part. Heb. p. 691. (p) Martin. Hist. Sinic. p. 178.
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