Genesis 31:1
And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's has he gotten all this glory.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXI.

JACOB’S FLIGHT.—THE PURSUIT OF HIM BY LABAN, AND THEIR RECONCILIATION.

(1) Laban’s sons.—No mention hitherto had been made of Laban having any other children than Leah and Rachel. If his sons were by the same wife, they would be men about fifty-five or sixty years of age. In saying that Jacob had taken “all that was their father’s” they were guilty of exaggeration; for Laban was still rich, and probably, upon the whole, was a gainer by the presence of one so highly gifted as Jacob. Their word “glory” suggests that, enriched by cattle and commerce, Jacob had now become a person of great importance in the eyes of the people of Haran.

Genesis 31:1. He heard the words of Laban’s sons — For it seems they spoke them in Jacob’s hearing. The last chapter began with Rachel’s envying Leah; this begins with Laban’s sons envying Jacob. Hath taken away all that was our father’s — Not all, sure: what was become of those cattle which were committed to the custody of Laban’s sons, and sent three days’ journey off? He has gotten all this glory — And what was this glory? It was a parcel of brown sheep, and speckled goats, and some camels and asses. But they meant wealth, which the possessors usually glory in, and whereby they gain much esteem from others.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.Circumstances at length induce Jacob to propose flight to his wives. His prosperity provokes the envy and slander of Laban's sons, and Laban himself becomes estranged. The Lord now commands Jacob to return, and promises him his presence to protect him. Jacob now opens his mind fully to Rachel and Leah. Rachel, we observe, is put first. Several new facts come out in his discourse to them. Ye know - Jacob appeals to his wives on this point - "that with all my might I served your father." He means, of course, to the extent of his engagement. During the last six years he was to provide for his own house, as the Lord permitted him, with the full knowledge and concurrence of Laban. Beyond this, which is a fair and acknowledged exception, he has been faithful in keeping the cattle of Laban. "Your father deceived me, and changed my wages ten times;" that is, as often as he could.

If, at the end of the first year, he found that Jacob had gained considerably, though he began with nothing, he might change his wages every following half-year, and so actually change them ten times in five years. In this case, the preceding chapter only records his original expedients, and then states the final result. "God suffered him not to hurt me." Jacob, we are to remember, left his hire to the providence of God. He thought himself bound at the same time to use all legitimate means for the attainment of the desired end. His expedients may have been perfectly legitimate in the circumstances, but they were evidently of no avail without the divine blessing. And they would become wholly ineffectual when his wages were changed. Hence, he says, God took the cattle and gave them to me. Jacob seems here to record two dreams, the former of which is dated at the rutting season. The dream indicates the result by a symbolic representation, which ascribes it rather to the God of nature than to the man of art. The second dream makes allusion to the former as a process still going on up to the present time. This appears to be an encouragement to Jacob now to commit himself to the Lord on his way home. The angel of the Lord, we observe, announces himself as the God of Bethel, and recalls to Jacob the pillar and the vow. The angel, then, is Yahweh manifesting himself to human apprehension.

CHAPTER 31

Ge 31:1-21. Envy of Laban and Sons.

1. he heard the words of Laban's sons—It must have been from rumor that Jacob got knowledge of the invidious reflections cast upon him by his cousins; for they were separated at the distance of three days' journey.Jacob observing Laban’s envy, on God’s command and promise, with the consent of his wives, departs secretly, Genesis 31:1-21. Laban pursues him; God in a dream warns him not to treat Jacob ill; he overtakes him on Mount Gilead; taxes him sharply for his secret departure, and with stealing his gods, Genesis 31:23-30. Jacob excuses his departure, Genesis 31:31; denies the taking either gods or aught else that was Laban’s, Genesis 31:32. Laban searches, but finds not, Genesis 31:33-35. Jacob is wroth, and rebukes him vehemently for all he had suffered from him, Genesis 31:36-41. He owns God as his defence in the day of his affliction, Genesis 31:42. They make a covenant, in which Laban obliges Jacob not to hurt his daughters, nor take other wives to them, Genesis 31:44-52. Jacob swears by the fear of Isaac, and offers sacrifice, Genesis 31:53,54. Laban returns to his place, Genesis 31:55.

cir. 1739 These riches, which are called glory, Genesis 45:13 Psalm 49:16 Isaiah 66:12, compared with Isaiah 60:6, because their possessors use to glory in them, and by them gain glory and esteem from others.

And he heard the words of Laban's sons,.... That is, Jacob, as is expressed in the Septuagint and Syriac versions, either with his own ears, overhearing their discourse in their tents, or in the field, or from the report of others, his wives or some of his friends, who thought proper to acquaint him with it; these were the sons of Laban, who had the care of the cattle committed to them, separated by the direction of Jacob, and with the consent of Laban, Genesis 30:35,

saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; meaning not precisely all that their father had, for that would have been a downright lie; for what was become of them that were committed to their care? besides, we afterwards read of Laban's shearing his sheep, Genesis 31:19; but that all that Jacob had was their father's, and he had taken it away from him, if not by force and stealth, yet by fraud; and so Jacob might fear he would treat him in an ill manner, and therefore began to think it was high time for him to be gone:

and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all the glory; his many servants, numerous cattle, sheep, camels and asses, in which carnal men place all their happiness; or those riches, as the Targum of Jonathan, by which he got the name and glory of a rich man among men: and it was so far true what they say, that it was out of their father's flock that Jacob got all his increase; but then it was according to a covenant that Laban and he entered into, and therefore was obtained in a just and lawful manner.

And he heard the {a} words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory.

(a) The children put in words what the father disguised in his heart for the covetous think that whatever they cannot take, is taken from them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Laban’s sons] See Genesis 30:35. It has hitherto been a contest of wits between Laban and Jacob. Jacob has had the best of it. Laban’s sons are jealous and thoroughly alienated.

glory] R.V. marg. wealth. The Hebrew word kâbôd, usually rendered “honour” or “glory,” has sometimes the meaning of “wealth,” as here and Psalm 49:17, “for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him.” Cf. Isaiah 10:3.Verse 1. - And he - Jacob had now served twenty years with Laban, and must accordingly have been in his ninety-seventh or seventy-seventh year (vide Genesis 27:1) - heard the words of Laban's sons, - who were not at this time only small youths about fourteen years of ago (Delitzsch), since they were capable of being entrusted with their father's flocks (Genesis 30:35) - saying (probably in a conversation which had been over. heard by Jacob), Jacob hath taken away (by fraud is what they meant, an opinion in which Kalisch agrees; but it is not quite certain that Jacob was guilty of dishonesty in acting as he did) all that was our father's; - this was a manifest exaggeration; sed hoe morbo laborant sordidi et nimium tenaces, ut sibi ereptum esse putent quicquid non ingurgitant (Calvin) - and of that which was our father's hath he gotten (literally, made, in the sense of acquiring, as in Genesis 12:5; 1 Samuel 14:48) all this glory. כָּבוד (from כָּבַד, to be heavy, hence to be great in the sense of honored, and also to be abundant) signifies either glory, splendor, renown, δόξα (LXX.), as in Job 14:21; or, what seems the preferable meaning here, wealth, riches, facultates (Vulgate), as in Psalm 49:13; Nahum 2:10. The two ideas appear to be combined in 2 Corinthians 4:17; βάρος δόξης (cf. Wordsworth, in loco). Laban cheerfully accepted the proposal, but did not leave Jacob to make the selection. He undertook that himself, probably to make more sure, and then gave those which were set apart as Jacob's wages to his own sons to tend, since it was Jacob's duty to take care of Laban's flock, and "set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob," i.e., between the flock to be tended by himself through his sons, and that to be tended by Jacob, for the purpose of preventing any copulation between the animals of the two flocks. Nevertheless he was overreached by Jacob, who adopted a double method of increasing the wages agreed upon. In the first place (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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