Genesis 31:17
Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives on camels;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17, 18) Jacob rose up.—This was the final result of Jacob’s deliberation with his wives, but it did not take place till the time of sheep-shearing. Jacob must have prepared his plans very carefully to be able to leave none of his wealth behind; but he would be greatly helped in this by the fact that his own head-quarters were thirty or forty miles distant from Haran (Genesis 30:36).

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.His wives entirely accord with his view of their father's selfishness in dealing with his son-in-law, and approve of his intended departure. Jacob makes all the needful preparations for a hasty and secret flight. He avails himself of the occasion when Laban is at a distance probably of three or more days' journey, shearing his sheep. "Rachel stole the teraphim." It is not the business of Scripture to acquaint us with the kinds and characteristics of false worship. Hence, we know little of the teraphim, except that they were employed by those who professed to worship the true God. Rachel had a lingering attachment to these objects of her family's superstitious reverence, and secretly carried them away as relics of a home she was to visit no more, and as sources of safety to herself against the perils of her flight.17. Then Jacob rose up—Little time is spent by pastoral people in removing. The striking down the tents and poles and stowing them among their other baggage; the putting their wives and children in houdas like cradles, on the backs of camels, or in panniers on asses; and the ranging of the various parts of the flock under the respective shepherds; all this is a short process. A plain that is covered in the morning with a long array of tents and with browsing flocks, may, in a few hours, appear so desolate that not a vestige of the encampment remains, except the holes in which the tent poles had been fixed. Cir. 1739

No text from Poole on this verse. Then Jacob rose up,.... And went with them to Laban's house, where his children were, as is plain from Rachel's theft, Genesis 31:19,

and set his sons and his wives upon camels; which were his own, see Genesis 30:43; creatures fit for travelling; on these he set his wives, Rachel and Leah, and his concubine wives, Bilhah and Zilpah; for these went with him, as appears from Genesis 33:6; and "his sons", or rather "his children": for they were not all sons, there was one daughter, and they were all young; his eldest son Reuben could not be much more than twelve years of age, and his youngest son Joseph about six.

Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 17, 18. - Then (literally, and) Jacob rose up (expressive of the vigor and alacrity with which, having obtained the concurrence of his wives, Jacob set about fulfilling the Divine instructions), and set his sons - his children, as in Genesis 31:1; Genesis 32:12, including Dinah, if by this time she had been born (vide Genesis 30:21) - and his wives upon camels. Since neither were able to undertake a journey to Canaan on foot, his oldest son being not more than thirteen years of age and his youngest not more than six. One camel, vide Genesis 12:16. And he carried away - the verb נָהֵג, to pant, which is specially used of those who are exhausted by running (Gesenins, sub voce), may perhaps indicate the haste with which Jacob acted - all his cattle, - Mikneh, literally, possession, from kanah, to procure, always used of cattle, the chief wealth of a nomad (cf. Genesis 13:2; Genesis 26:14) - and all his goods which he had gotten, - Recush, literally, acquisition, hence substance, wealth in general, from racash, to acquire (vide Genesis 14:11, 16, 21; Genesis 15:14), which, however, is more specifically described as - the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten (both of the above verbs, kanah and racash, being now employed) in (i.e. during his stay in) Padan-aram, for to go to Issac his father in the land of Canaan. אביכם: for אביכן as in Genesis 32:16, etc. - "Ten times:" i.e., as often as possible, the ten as a round number expressing the idea of completeness. From the statement that Laban had changed his wages ten times, it is evident that when Laban observed, that among his sheep and goats, of one colour only, a large number of mottled young were born, he made repeated attempts to limit the original stipulation by changing the rule as to the colour of the young, and so diminishing Jacob's wages. But when Jacob passes over his own stratagem in silence, and represents all that he aimed at and secured by crafty means as the fruit of God's blessing, this differs no doubt from the account in Genesis 30. It is not a contradiction, however, pointing to a difference in the sources of the two chapters, but merely a difference founded upon actual fact, viz., the fact that Jacob did not tell the whole truth to his wives. Moreover self-help and divine help do not exclude one another. Hence his account of the dream, in which he saw that the rams that leaped upon the cattle were all of various colours, and heard the voice of the angel of God calling his attention to what had been seen, in the words, "I have seen all that Laban hath done to thee," may contain actual truth; and the dream may be regarded as a divine revelation, which was either sent to explain to him now, at the end of the sixth year, "that it was not his stratagem, but the providence of God which had prevented him from falling a victim to Laban's avarice, and had brought him such wealth" (Delitzsch); or, if the dream occurred at an earlier period, was meant to teach him, that "the help of God, without any such self-help, could procure him justice and safety in spite of Laban's selfish covetousness" (Kurtz). It is very difficult to decide between these two interpretations. As Jehovah's instructions to him to return were not given till the end of his period of service, and Jacob connects them so closely with the vision of the rams that they seem contemporaneous, Delitzsch's view appears to deserve the preference. But the עשׂה in Genesis 31:12, "all that Laban is doing to thee," does not exactly suit this meaning; and we should rather expect to find עשׂה used at the end of the time of service. The participle rather favours Kurtz's view, that Jacob had the vision of the rams and the explanation from the angel at the beginning of the last six years of service, but that in his communication to his wives, in which there was no necessity to preserve a strict continuity or distinction of time, he connected it with the divine instructions to return to his home, which he received at the end of his time of service. But if we decide in favour of this view, we have no further guarantee for the objective reality of the vision of the rams, since nothing is said about it in the historical account, and it is nowhere stated that the wealth obtained by Jacob's craftiness was the result of the divine blessing. The attempt so unmistakeably apparent in Jacob's whole conversation with his wives, to place his dealing with Laban in the most favourable light for himself, excites the suspicion, that the vision of which he spoke was nothing more than a natural dream, the materials being supplied by the three thoughts that were most frequently in his mind, by night as well as by day, viz., (1) his own schemes and their success; (2) the promise received at Bethel; (3) the wish to justify his actions to his own conscience; and that these were wrought up by an excited imagination into a visionary dream, of the divine origin of which Jacob himself may not have had the slightest doubt. - In Genesis 31:13 האל has the article in the construct state, contrary to the ordinary rule; cf. Ges. 110, 2b; Ewald, 290.
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