Genesis 31:23
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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(23) 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.31:22-35 God can put a bridle in the mouth of wicked men, to restrain their malice, though he do not change their hearts. Though they have no love to God's people, they will pretend to it, and try to make a merit of necessity. Foolish Laban! to call those things his gods which could be stolen! Enemies may steal our goods, but not our God. Here Laban lays to Jacob's charge things that he knew not. Those who commit their cause to God, are not forbidden to plead it themselves with meekness and fear. When we read of Rachel's stealing her father's images, what a scene of iniquity opens! The family of Nahor, who left the idolatrous Chaldees; is this family itself become idolatrous? It is even so. The truth seems to be, that they were like some in after-times, who sware by the Lord and by Malcham, Zep 1:5; and like others in our times, who wish to serve both God and mammon. Great numbers will acknowledge the true God in words, but their hearts and houses are the abodes of spiritual idolatry. When a man gives himself up to covetousness, like Laban, the world is his god; and he has only to reside among gross idolaters in order to become one, or at least a favourer of their abominations.Laban hears of his flight, pursues, and overtakes him. "Stole the heart," κλέπτειν νοῦν kleptein noun. The heart is the seat of the understanding in Scripture. To steal the heart of anyone is to act without his knowledge. The river. The Frat, near which, we may conclude, Jacob was tending his flocks. Haran was about seventy miles from the river, and therefore, Laban's flocks were on the other side of Haran. "Toward mount Gilead;" about three hundred miles from the Frat. "On the third day." This shows that Laban's flocks kept by his sons were still three days' journey apart from Jacob's. His brethren - his kindred and dependents. "Seven days' journey." On the third day after the arrival of the messenger, Laban might return to the spot whence Jacob had taken his flight. In this case, Jacob would have at least five days of a start; which, added to the seven days of pursuit, would give him twelve days to travel three hundred English miles. To those accustomed to the pastoral life this was a possible achievement. God appears to Laban on behalf of Jacob, and warns him not to harm him. "Not to speak from good to bad" is merely to abstain from language expressing and prefacing violence.Ge 31:22-55. Laban Pursues Jacob—Their Covenant at Gilead.

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.

No text from Poole on this verse. And he took his brethren with him,.... Some of his relations, the descendants of his father's brethren, the sons of Nahor, of whom there were seven, besides Bethuel; and who all perhaps lived in Haran the city of Nahor, see 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).

(e) Bunting's Travels, p. 72.

And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
22–55. The Pursuit of Laban, &c.

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.Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; Jacob then set out with his children and wives, and all the property that he had acquired in Padan-Aram, to return to his father in Canaan; whilst Laban had gone to the sheep-shearing, which kept him some time from his home on account of the size of his flock. Rachel took advantage of her father's absence to rob him of his teraphim (penates), probably small images of household gods in human form, which were worshipped as givers of earthly prosperity, and also consulted as oracles (see my Archologie, 90).
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