Genesis 31:24
And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
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(24) Either good or bad.—Heb., from good to bad: a proverbial expression, rightly translated in the Authorised Version, but conveying the idea of a more absolute prohibition than the phrase used in Genesis 24:50.

Genesis 31:24. Speak not to Jacob either good or bad — The Hebrew is, from good to bad — That is, enter into no altercations, and use no harsh language with him, which may occasion a quarrel. Say nothing against his going on with his journey, for the thing proceedeth from the Lord. The same Hebraism we have, Genesis 24:50. The safety of good men is very much owing to the hold God has on the consciences of bad men, and the access he has to them.

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.

Neither persuading him by flattering promises and cunning artifices, nor compelling him by threatenings, to return. For so these general words must be limited, as is evident from God’s design in them, and from the following relation. So this is a synecdochical expression.

And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night,.... It is probable that Laban came to Mount Gilead late in the evening, and so had no sight of, or conversation with Jacob until the morning; and that night God came to him, and in a dream advised him as follows: or it may be rendered, "and God had come", &c. (f); in one of the nights in which he had lain upon the road; though the former seems best to agree with Genesis 31:29; the Targum of Jonathan has it, an angel came; and the Jews (g) say it was Michael; by whom, if they understand the uncreated Angel, the Son of God, it is right:

and said unto him, take heed that thou speak not to, Jacob either good or bad; not that he should keep an entire silence, and enter into no discourse with him on any account, but that he should say nothing to him about his return to Haran again; for it was the will of God he should go onward towards Canaan's land; and therefore Laban should not attempt to persuade him to return, with a promise of good things, or of what great things he would do for him; nor threaten him with evil things, or what he would do to him if he would not comply to return with him.

(f) "et venerat", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; so Aben Ezra. (g) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.

And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
24. And God came] Cf. Genesis 31:11. For this revelation to Laban the Syrian, compare the revelation to Abimelech, king of Gerar, in Genesis 20:3. It is God, not the “angel of God” (Genesis 31:11), who appears to Laban.

either good or bad] A phrase used by Laban himself in Genesis 24:50.

Verses 24, 25. - And God - Elohim is here employed, neither because the section belongs to the fundamental document (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso, et alii), nor because, though Laban had an outward acquaintance with Jehovah (vide ver. 49), his real religious knowledge did not extend beyond Elohim (Hengstenberg), but simply because the historian wished to characterize the interposition which arrested Laban in his wrath as supernatural (Quarry) - came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, - (cf. Genesis 20:3; Job 33:15; Matthew 1:20). This celestial visitation occurred the night before the fugitives were overtaken (vide ver. 29). Its intention was to guard Jacob, according to the promise of Genesis 28:15, against Laban's resentment - and (accordingly God) said unto him, Take heed - literally, take heed for thyself, the verb being followed by an ethical dative, as in Genesis 12:1; Genesis 21:16, q.v. - that thou speak not to Jacob - literally, lest the, speak with Jacob; μή ποτε λαλήσυς μετὰ Ἰακὼβ (LXX.) either good or bad. Literally, from good to bad, meaning that on meeting with Jacob he should not pass from peaceful greetings to bitter reproaches (Bush, Lunge), or say anything emphatic and decisive for the purpose of reversing what had occurred (Keil); or, perhaps more simply, say anything acrimonious or violent against Jacob (Rosenmüller, Murphy), the expression being a proverbial phrase for opposition or interference (Kalisch). (Cf. Genesis 14:50; 2 Samuel 13:23). Then (literally, and) Laban overtook Jacob. Now (literally, and) Jacob had pitched his tent - this was done by means of pins driven into the ground, the verb תָּקַע signifying to fasten, or fix anything by driving (cf. Judges 4:21; Isaiah 22:23, 25) - in the mount (vide supra, ver. 21): and Laban with his brethren (kinsmen, ut supra) pitched - his tent; not ἔστησε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς (LXX.) - in the mount of Gilead (vide supra, ver. 21). Genesis 31:24Laban's Pursuit, Reconciliation, and Covenant with Jacob. - As Laban was not told till the third day after the flight, though he pursued the fugitives with his brethren, i.e., his nearest relations, he did not overtake Jacob for seven days, by which time he had reached the mountains of Gilead (Genesis 31:22-24). The night before he overtook them, he was warned by God in a dream, "not to speak to Jacob from good to bad," i.e., not to say anything decisive and emphatic for the purpose of altering what had already occurred (vid., Genesis 31:29, and the note on Genesis 24:50). Hence he confined himself, when they met, "to bitter reproaches combining paternal feeling on the one hand with hypocrisy on the other;" in which he told them that he had the power to do them harm, if God had not forbidden him, and charged them with stealing his gods (the teraphim).
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