Genesis 30:31
And he said, What shall I give you? And Jacob said, You shall not give me any thing: if you will do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep your flock.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
30:25-43 The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to depart without any provision, except God's promise. But he had in many ways a just claim on Laban's substance, and it was the will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban, whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own. Jacob's course after this agreement has been considered an instance of his policy and management. But it was done by intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly benefitted by Jacob's services. May all our mercies be received with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they may lead to his praise.Jacob enters into a new contract of service with Laban. "When Rachel had borne Joseph." Jacob cannot ask his dismissal until the twice seven years of service were completed. Hence, the birth of Joseph, which is the date of his request, took place at the earliest in the fifteenth year of his sojourn with Laban. Jacob now wishes to return home, from which he had been detained so long by serving for Rachel. He no doubt expects of Laban the means at least of accomplishing his journey. Laban is loath to part with him. "I have divined" - I have been an attentive observer. The result of his observation is expressed in the following words. "Appoint." Laban offers to leave the fixing of the hire to Jacob. "Thy hire upon me," which I will take upon me as binding. Jacob touches upon the value of his services, perhaps with the tacit feeling that Laban in equity owed him at least the means of returning to his home. "Brake forth" - increased. "At my foot" - under my guidance and tending of thy flocks.

"Do" - provide. "Thou shalt not give me anything." This shows that Jacob had no stock from Laban to begin with. "I will pass through all thy flock today" with thee. "Remove thou thence every speckled and spotted sheep, and every brown sheep among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats." These were the rare colors, as in the East the sheep are usually white, and the goats black or dark brown. "And such shall be my hire." Such as these uncommon party-colored cattle, when they shall appear among the flock already cleared of them; and not those of this description that are now removed. For in this case Laban would have given Jacob something; whereas Jacob was resolved to be entirely dependent on the divine providence for his hire. "And my righteousness will answer for me." The color will determine at once whose the animal is. Laban willingly consents to so favorable a proposal, removes the party-colored animals from the flock, gives them into the hands of his sons, and puts an interval of three days' journey between them and the pure stock which remains in Jacob's hands. Jacob is now to begin with nothing, and have for his hire any party-colored lambs or kids that appear in those flocks, from which every specimen of this rare class has been carefully removed.

31. Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing—A new agreement was made, the substance of which was, that he was to receive remuneration in the usual way, but on certain conditions which Jacob specified. No text from Poole on this verse. And he said, what shall I give thee?.... So said Laban to Jacob, still avoiding making any offer himself, but waiting for Jacob, and pressing upon him to fix his wages:

and Jacob said, thou shalt not give me anything; a speech Laban liked very well: his meaning is, that he should give him no certain settled salary, nor even of anything that Laban was now possessed of, and God had blessed him with for his sake he did not desire any part of it:

but if thou wilt do this thing for me; which he was about to mention, and does in Genesis 30:32,

I will again feed and keep thy flock; there is an elegance in the original; "I will return, I will feed, I will keep thy flock": it seems by this that Jacob had relinquished the care of the flock, upon the time of his servitude being out; but, upon the following condition, proposes to return to it, lead it out to the pastures, and feed it on them, and keep it night and day, as he had used to do.

And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 31. - And he (Laban, unwilling to part with so profitable an assistant) said, What shall I give thee? He was apparently prepared to detain Jacob at his own terms. And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me anything. Jacob did not design to serve Laban gratuitously, but chose rather to trust God than Laban for recompense (Wordsworth, Gosman in Lange); or he may have meant that he would have no wages of Laban's setting, but only of his own proposing (Hughes). If thou wilt do this thing for me (accede to this stipulation), I will again feed and keep thy flock - literally, I will turn, I will tend thy flock, I will keep (sc. 2). New Contract of Service Between Jacob and Laban. - As the second period of seven years terminated about the time of Joseph's birth, Jacob requested Laban to let him return to his own place and country, i.e., to Canaan. Laban, however, entreated him to remain, for he had perceived that Jehovah, Jacob's God, had blessed him for his sake; and told him to fix his wages for further service. The words, "if I have found favour in thine eyes" (Genesis 30:27), contain an aposiopesis, sc., then remain. נחשׁתּי "a heathen expression, like augurando cognovi" (Delitzsch). עלי שׂכרך thy wages, which it will be binding upon me to give. Jacob reminded him, on the other hand, what service he had rendered him, how Jehovah's blessing had followed "at his foot," and asked when he should begin to provide for his own house. But when Laban repeated the question, what should he give him, Jacob offered to feed and keep his flock still, upon one condition, which was founded upon the fact, that in the East the goats, as a rule, are black or dark-brown, rarely white or spotted with white, and that the sheep for the most part are white, very seldom black or speckled. Jacob required as wages, namely, all the speckled, spotted, and black among the sheep, and all the speckled, spotted, and white among the goats; and offered "even to-day" to commence separating them, so that "to-morrow" Laban might convince himself of the uprightness of his proceedings. הסר (Genesis 30:32) cannot be imperative, because of the preceding אעבר, but must be infinitive: "I will go through the whole flock to-day to remove from thence all...;" and שׂכרי היה signifies "what is removed shall be my wages," but not everything of an abnormal colour that shall hereafter be found in the flock. This was no doubt intended by Jacob, as the further course of the narrative shows, but it is not involved in the words of Genesis 30:32. Either the writer has restricted himself to the main fact, and omitted to mention that it was also agreed at the same time that the separation should be repeated at certain regular periods, and that all the sheep of an abnormal colour in Laban's flock should also be set aside as part of Jacob's wages; or this point was probably not mentioned at first, but taken for granted by both parties, since Jacob took measures with that idea to his own advantage, and even Laban, notwithstanding the frequent alteration of the contract with which Jacob charged him (Genesis 31:7-8, and Genesis 31:41), does not appear to have disputed this right.
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