Genesis 30:32
I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
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(32) The speckled and spotted cattle (sheep).—In the East sheep are generally white, and goats black or brown. Jacob, therefore, proposes that all such shall belong to Laban, but that the parti-coloured should be his hire. By “speckled” are meant those sheep and goats that had small spots upon their coats, and by “spotted,” those that had large patches of another colour. Besides these, Jacob is to have all “brown cattle,” that is, sheep, for the word “cattle” is usually now confined to kine, which was not the case 200 years ago. This translation is taken from Rashi, but the word usually signifies black. Philippsohn says that black sheep are seldom seen in the East, but that sheep of a blackish-red colour are common. In Genesis 30:35 we have another word, “ring-straked,” that is, having the colours in stripes. This is never the case with sheep, but goats often have their coats thus definitely marked.

Genesis 30:32. Removing all the speckled and spotted — He does not mean, that those cattle which were already speckled and spotted, &c., should be given him; for that does not agree with what went before: Thou shalt not give me any thing, that is, I will take nothing that is now thine. Besides, it would have been no wonder if those that were spotted already should bring forth others like themselves. But the sense is, that he would separate all the spotted sheep and goats, and then, out of those which were of one colour, would have all that should fall hereafter of the before-mentioned variety. Jacob desired to make a clear bargain, about which they might have no disputes. Had they agreed for a particular number of cattle every year, there might have been room for cavil and suspicions; for if any of the flock had by accident been lost, they might have differed whether Jacob’s or Laban’s were the lost cattle. But, to prevent all possible disputes, “Let me,” says Jacob, “have all the speckled and spotted cattle, and then, whenever you have a mind to look into my stock, my integrity will come before your face,” or be conspicuous, which is the meaning of the next verse.

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.

32. I will pass through all thy flock to-day—Eastern sheep being generally white, the goats black, and spotted or speckled ones comparatively few and rare, Jacob proposed to remove all existing ones of that description from the flock, and to be content with what might appear at the next lambing time. The proposal seemed so much in favor of Laban, that he at once agreed to it. But Jacob has been accused of taking advantage of his uncle, and though it is difficult to exculpate him from practising some degree of dissimulation, he was only availing himself of the results of his great skill and experience in the breeding of cattle. But it is evident from the next chapter (Ge 31:5-13) that there was something miraculous and that the means he had employed had been suggested by a divine intimation. Speckled and spotted cattle, which may seem to be thus distinguished; speckled with little spots, and spotted with greater spots or stains, both of diverse colours from the rest of the body. Or, the speckled may be the same with the ring-straked, by comparing this with Genesis 30:35.

All the brown cattle; or black, or dark-coloured; for the Hebrew word signifies also great heat which produceth such a colour.

Of such shall be my hire; or, then shall be my hire; and for then, as is frequent in Scripture. The sense is: Then, when the speckled, and spotted, and brown are separated, and none but white remaining, my hire shall be out of those white ones, and that in such manner as is expressed in Genesis 30:33, all the white young ones shall be thine, and the speckled, and spotted, and brown which shall be brought forth by those white ones shall be mine.

I will pass through all thy flock today,.... Not alone, but Laban and his sons with him:

removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle; that is, such as were black and had white spots on them, or were white and had black spots on them; and the "speckled", according to Jarchi and Ben Melech, were such as had small spots on them; and the "spotted" were such as had larger:

and all the brown cattle among the sheep; the russet coloured ones, or the "black" (o) ones, as some render it; and so Aben Ezra, and who makes mention of another sort, called "barud", which signifies spotted with white spots like hailstones, but is not to be found in the text here, but in Genesis 31:10; and besides coincide with those before described:

and the spotted and speckled among the goats: that had larger and lesser spots upon them as the sheep:

and of such shall be my hire; not those that were now in the flock, but such as were like them, that should be brought forth for the time to come; which seems to be a strange proposal, and what was not likely to turn out much to the advantage of Jacob; but he knew what he did, and very probably was directed of God, if not in a vision, yet by an impulse on his mind, that such a method would be right, and would succeed; see Genesis 31:10.

(o) "nigrum", Montanus, Fagius; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 98. 1.

I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: {i} and of such shall be my hire.

(i) That which is spotted, from now on.

32. I will pass, &c.] Jacob’s proposal to Laban is that he should serve for a wage, to be given, not in money, but in animals. The sheep in Syria are nearly always white, and the goats black; cf. Song of Solomon 4:1. Jacob asks that his wage should consist of the sheep that were not white and the goats that were not black. Laban’s flocks would be, according to this arrangement, the great mass of the animals. To Jacob’s share would fall the exceptions, the spotted and black among the sheep, the spotted and speckled among the goats.

Verse 32. - I will pass through all thy flock today, - wrongly rendered παρελθέτω πάντα τὰ πρόβάτα σου (LXX), gyra per omnes greges tuos (Vulgate}, as if Jacob proposed that the separation of the flocks should be effected by Laban, and not by himself - removing from thence - not remove thou, as if the verb were imperative (Rosenmüller, Murphy, Kalisch), but "to remove," the verb being in the inf. (Keil; cf. Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 279) - all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. Since in Oriental countries sheep are commonly white and goats black, the number of speckled and spotted animals (i.e. sheep with little spots and largo patches of black, and goats with little or large points of white, in their hair) would be unusually small. And of such shall be my hire - i.e. the dark-spotted or entirely black sheep and white or white-speckled goats were to be Jacob's reward (Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Lunge), which was to be subsequently increased by whatever speckled animals might appear among the one-colored flocks; but it seems more probable that Jacob only claimed the latter, and, both to make the bargain more attractive to Laban and to show that he wanted nothing from Laban but only what God might be pleased in accordance with this arrangement to bestow, he suggested that the flocks and herds should be purged of all such speckled and spotted animals to begin with (Tuch, Baumgarten, Kurtz, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Candlish; Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Clarke, Bush). Genesis 30:32New 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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