And he took his brothers with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His brethren.—As Jacob, who had no relatives with him except his sons, applies this term in Genesis 31:46 to his followers, it is, probably, an honourable way of describing retainers, who were freemen and of a higher class than men-servants.
Seven days’ journey.—The route chosen by Jacob was apparently the more easterly one, past Tadmor, and through the Hauran, leaving Damascus to the west. The hill, which subsequently was called Mount Gilead, lay to the south of the Jabbok; but asMahanaim, reached some days after the meeting with Laban, is to the north of that river, the word Gilead was evidently applied to the whole of the region of chalk cliffs on the east of the Jordan. This is made certain by the fact that Laban overtook Jacob in seven days. But as the distance from Haran to the most northerly part of this country (afterwards assigned to the half-tribe of Manasseh) was fully three hundred miles, it would require hard riding on the part of Laban and his brethren to enable them to overtake Jacob, even on the borders of this region. There is no difficulty about Jacob’s movements. His flocks were pastured at so remote a distance from Haran that it would be easy for him to send them in detachments to the ford of the Euphrates, distant about sixty or seventy miles; he would make all the arrangements with his four elder sons and trusty servants, and, probably, even see them across the ford himself, and would return to Haran to fetch his wives and younger children only when all was well advanced. Finally, when Laban goes to a distance, in another direction, for his sheep-shearing, Jacob “sets his sons and his wives upon camels,” and follows with the utmost speed. They would have remained quietly at Haran to the last, to avoid suspicion, and, excepting Leah’s four elder sons, the rest would have been too young to be of much use. When Jacob, with his wives, overtook the cattle, they would, probably, not travel more than ten or twelve miles a day; but three days passed before Laban learned what had taken place, and a couple of days at least must have been spent in returning to Haran and preparing for the pursuit. Thus Jacob had reached Canaanite ground—a matter of very considerable importance—before his father-in-law overtook him.Genesis 31:23. He took his brethren — That is, his relations, and pursues Jacob to bring him back into bondage, or to strip him of what he had. They overtook him in the mount Gilead — This mount was about two hundred and fifty miles from Haran; so that Jacob travelled twenty-five miles each day, and Laban, in pursuing him, thirty-seven.
22-24. it was told Laban on the third day—No sooner did the news reach Laban than he set out in pursuit, and he being not encumbered, advanced rapidly; whereas Jacob, with a young family and numerous flocks, had to march slowly, so that he overtook the fugitives after seven days' journey as they lay encamped on the brow of mount Gilead, an extensive range of hills forming the eastern boundary of Canaan. Being accompanied by a number of his people, he might have used violence had he not been divinely warned in a dream to give no interruption to his nephew's journey. How striking and sudden a change! For several days he had been full of rage, and was now in eager anticipation that his vengeance would be fully wreaked, when lo! his hands are tied by invisible power (Ps 76:10). He did not dare to touch Jacob, but there was a war of words.Genesis 22:20; or some of his neighbours and acquaintance whom he might call to:
and pursued after him seven days' journey; which must be reckoned, not from Jacob's departure from Haran, but from Laban's; for Laban being three days' journey from thence, whither he had to return, after he received the news of Jacob being gone; Jacob must have travelled six days before Laban set out with his brethren from Haran; so that this was, as Ben Gerson conjectures, the thirteenth day of Jacob's travel; for Laban not having cattle to drive as Jacob, could travel as fast again as he, and do that in seven days which took up Jacob thirteen:
and they overtook him in the mount Gilead; said to be three hundred and eighty miles from Haran (e).And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. his brethren] i.e. the men of his kindred and clan, as in Genesis 31:25; Genesis 31:32. Jacob is similarly attended; cf. Genesis 31:37; Genesis 31:46; Genesis 31:54, Genesis 24:60.
seven days’ journey] The distance from Haran to the land of Gilead for a company with flocks and herds would require a longer time. It is computed to be over 300 miles in a straight line. But we do not need to be very exacting about geographical accuracy in old-world popular stories.
The point to notice is that Jacob was encumbered with his flocks and herds and household, and that Laban, travelling without encumbrance in pursuit, overtook him in ten days from his flight.
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