But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
It is obvious that the preceding and present chapters form one continuous piece of composition; as otherwise we have no account of the whole family of Jacob from one author. But the names אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym and יהוה yehovâh are both employed in the piece, and, hence, their presence and interchange cannot indicate diversity of authorship.
- Jacob's Flight from Haran
19. תרפים terāpı̂ym, Teraphim. This word occurs fifteen times in the Old Testament. It appears three times in this chapter, and nowhere else in the Pentateuch. It is always in the plural number. The root does not appear in Biblical Hebrew. It perhaps means "to live well," intransitively (Gesenius, Roedig.), "to nourish," transitively (Furst). The teraphim were symbols or representatives of the Deity, as Laban calls them his gods. They seem to have been busts (προτομαί protomai, Aquila) of the human form, sometimes as large as life 1 Samuel 19:13. Those of full size were probably of wood; the smaller ones may have been of metal. In two passages Judges 17:1-13; 18; Hosea 3:4 they are six times associated with the ephod. This intimates either that they were worn on the ephod, like the Urim and Thummim, or more probably that the ephod was worn on them; in accordance with which they were employed for the purposes of divination Genesis 30:27; Zechariah 10:2. The employment of them in the worship of God, which Laban seems to have inherited from his fathers Joshua 24:2, is denounced as idolatry 1 Samuel 15:23; and hence, they are classed with the idols and other abominations put away by Josiah 2 Kings 23:24.
47. שׂהדוּתא יגר yegar-śâhădûtā', Jegar-sahadutha, "cairn of witness" in the Aramaic dialect of the old Hebrew or Shemite speech. גלעד gal‛ēd, Gal'ed; and גלעד gı̂l‛ād, Gil'ad, "cairn of witness" in Hebrew especially so called (see Genesis 11:1-9).
49. מצפה mı̂tspâh, Mizpah, "watch-tower."
Jacob had now been twenty years in Laban's service, and was therefore, ninety-six years of age. It has now become manifest that he cannot obtain leave of Laban to return home. He must, therefore, either come off by the high hand, or by secret flight. Jacob has many reasons for preferring the latter course.But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)42. the feebler … the stronger] These words were a difficulty to the versions. LXX τὰ ἄσημα … τὰ ἐπίσημα, Lat. quae erant serotina … quae primi temporis. So Aq. Sym. πρώϊμα ὄψιμα, and Targum of Onkelos “early” and “late,” referring to the time of breeding. The earlier breeding sheep were the stronger. Pliny, H. N., viii. 187, postea concepti invalidi (quoted by Skinner).Verse 42. - But when the cattle were feeble, - literally, in the covering (sc. with wool; hence weakening) of the flock, which took place in autumn - he put them not in (partly to prevent the introduction of feeble animals amongst his parti-colored flocks, but partly also, it is thought, to avoid prematurely exciting Laban's suspicion): so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's. Genesis 30:37-39), he took fresh rods of storax, maple, and walnut-trees, all of which have a dazzling white wood under their dark outside, and peeled white stripes upon them, הלּבן מחשׂף (the verbal noun instead of the inf. abs. חשׂף), "peeling the white naked in the rods." These partially peeled, and therefore mottled rods, he placed in the drinking-troughs (רהטים lit., gutters, from רהט equals רוּץ to run, is explained by המּים שׁקתות water-troughs), to which the flock came to drink, in front of the animals, in order that, if copulation took place at the drinking time, it might occur near the mottled sticks, and the young be speckled and spotted in consequence. ויּחמנה a rare, antiquated form for ותּחמנה from חמם, and ויּחמוּ for ויּחמוּ imperf. Kal of יחם equals חמם. This artifice was founded upon a fact frequently noticed, particularly in the case of sheep, that whatever fixes their attention in copulation is marked upon the young (see the proofs in Bochart, Hieroz. 1, 618, and Friedreich zur Bibel 1, 37ff.). - Secondly (Genesis 30:40), Jacob separated the speckled animals thus obtained from those of a normal colour, and caused the latter to feed so that the others would be constantly in sight, in order that he might in this way obtain a constant accession of mottled sheep. As soon as these had multiplied sufficiently, he formed separate flocks (viz., of the speckled additions), "and put them not unto Laban's cattle;" i.e., he kept them apart in order that a still larger number of speckled ones might be procured, through Laban's one-coloured flock having this mottled group constantly in view.
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