Genesis 31:29
It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
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(29) It is in the power of my hand.—This is the rendering here of all the versions, and is confirmed by Deuteronomy 28:32; Nehemiah 5:5; Micah 2:1; but Keil and Knobel wish to translate, “My hand is for God.” This comes to the same thing in an impious way, as the sense would be,” My hand is an El, a god, for me,” and enables me to do what I will.

The speech of Laban is half true and half false. He would have wished not to part with Jacob at all, but to have recovered from him as much as he could of his property. But if he was to go, he would have liked outward appearances maintained; and, probably, he had an affection for his daughters and their children, though not so strong as to counterbalance his selfishness. His character, like that of all men, is a mixture of good and evil.

Genesis 31:29. The God of your fathers spake to me yesterday — We find here that Laban, whatever his disposition was, and how great soever his anger, paid regard to the heavenly vision. For though he supposed that he had both right and strength on his side, either to revenge the wrong or recover the right, yet he owns himself under the restraint of God’s power; he durst not injure one whom he saw to be the particular care of Heaven. It seems probable that God, who can change the heart in a moment, effected a sudden alteration in his disposition toward Jacob.

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's expostulation and Jacob's reply. What hast thou done? Laban intimates that he would have dismissed him honorably and affectionately, and therefore, that his flight was needless and unkind; and finally charges him with stealing his gods. Jacob gives him to understand that he did not expect fair treatment at his hands, and gives him leave to search for his gods, not knowing that Rachel had taken them.26-30. Laban said … What hast thou done?—Not a word is said of the charge (Ge 31:1). His reproaches were of a different kind. His first charge was for depriving him of the satisfaction of giving Jacob and his family the usual salutations at parting. In the East it is customary, when any are setting out to a great distance, for their relatives and friends to accompany them a considerable way with music and valedictory songs. Considering the past conduct of Laban, his complaint on this ground was hypocritical cant. But his second charge was a grave one—the carrying off his gods—Hebrew, "teraphim," small images of human figures, used not as idols or objects of worship, but as talismans, for superstitious purposes. The God of your father, Isaac or Abraham, by which he disowns him for his God, and tacitly reproacheth him with the novelty of his religion, which was first brought in by his father. Compare Genesis 31:53.

It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt,.... Jacob and his family, wives, children, and servants, who were not able to stand against Laban and the men he brought with him; and so the Jerusalem Targum paraphrases it,"I have an army and a multitude;''a large force, which Jacob could not withstand: or, "my hand could have been for a god" (h) to me: you could have no more escaped it, or got out of it, or withstood me, than you could God himself: such an opinion had he of his superior power and strength, and that this would have been the case:

but the God of your father spoke unto me yesternight; the night past, or the other night, some very little time ago, since he came from home at least: by his father he means either his father Isaac, or his grandfather Abraham, whose God the Lord was, and who came to Laban and told him who he was. This serves to strengthen the opinion that Laban was an idolater, and adhered to the gods of his grandfather Terah, from whom Abraham departed, and which Laban may have respect to; intimating that he abode by the religion of his ancestors at a greater remove than Jacob's: however, though he does not call him his God, he had some awe and reverence of him, and was influenced by his speech to him:

saying, take heed that thou spake not to Jacob either good or bad: this, though greatly to Jacob's honour, and against Laban's interest, yet his conscience would not allow him to keep it a secret; though, doubtless, his view was to show his superior power to Jacob, had he not been restrained by Jacob's God.

(h) "esset mihi pro deo manus mea", Schmidt.

It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the {g} God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

(g) He was an idolater and therefore would not acknowledge the God of Jacob for his God.

29. in the power of my hand] A Hebrew idiom occurring in Deuteronomy 28:32, Nehemiah 5:5, Proverbs 3:27, Micah 2:1. The word “power” is “Êl,” usually rendered “God”; in this idiom it denotes “power” or “might” in the abstract.

the God of your father] Laban’s conscience smites him, as is implied by the vision recorded in Genesis 31:24.

Genesis 31:29ידי לאל ישׁ: "there is to God my hand" (Micah 2:1; cf. Deuteronomy 28:32; Nehemiah 5:5), i.e., my hand serves me as God (Habakkuk 1:11; Job 12:6), a proverbial expression for "the power lies in my hand."
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