Genesis 31:47
And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.
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(47) Jegar-sahadutha.—These are two Syriac words of the same meaning as Gal-’eed, Heap of Witness. A Syriac (or Aramaic) dialect was most probably the ordinary language of the people in Mesopotamia, but it seems plain that Laban and his family also spoke Hebrew, not merely from his calling the placo Mizpah, a Hebrew word, but from the names given by his daughters to their children.

Genesis 31:47-53. But Jacob called it Galeed — The name Laban gave it signifies the heap of witness, in the Syrian tongue, which he used, and Galeed signifies the same in Hebrew, the language which Jacob used. It appears that the name which Jacob gave it remained to it, and not the name which Laban gave it. And Mizpah — (Genesis 31:49,) This name in Hebrew signifies a watchtower. And they agreed to give it this second name to remind them and their posterity of the solemn appeal they had now mutually made to the all-seeing eye of God, whose providence watches over the actions of mankind, rewarding sincerity and punishing deceitfulness. They appeal to him, 1st, As a witness, The Lord judge between thee and me — That is, the Lord take cognizance of every thing that shall be done on either side in violation of this league. 2d, As a judge. The God of Abraham, (Genesis 31:53,) from whom Jacob was descended; and the God of Nahor — Laban’s progenitor; the God of their father — From whom they were both descended; judge betwixt us. God’s relation to them is thus expressed, to intimate that they worshipped one and the same God, upon which consideration there ought to be no enmity betwixt them. Those that have one God, should have one heart: God is judge between contending parties, and he will judge righteously. Whoever does wrong, it is at his peril. Jacob sware by the Fear of his father Isaac — The God whom his father Isaac feared, who had never served other gods, as Abraham and Nahor had done: to this only living and true God he offered a sacrifice, (Genesis 31:54,) in gratitude for the peace he had obtained with Laban.31:43-55 Laban could neither justify himself nor condemn Jacob, therefore desires to hear no more of that matter. He is not willing to own himself in fault, as he ought to have done. But he proposes a covenant of friendship between them, to which Jacob readily agrees. A heap of stones was raised, to keep up the memory of the event, writing being then not known or little used. A sacrifice of peace offerings was offered. Peace with God puts true comfort into our peace with our friends. They did eat bread together, partaking of the feast upon the sacrifice. In ancient times covenants of friendship were ratified by the parties eating and drinking together. God is judge between contending parties, and he will judge righteously; whoever do wrong, it is at their peril. They gave a new name to the place, The heap of witness. After this angry parley, they part friends. God is often better to us than our fears, and overrules the spirits of men in our favour, beyond what we could have expected; for it is not in vain to trust in him.Laban, now pacified, if not conscience-stricken, proposes a covenant between them. Jacob erects a memorial pillar, around which the clan gather a cairn of stones, which serves by its name for a witness of their compact. "Jegar-sahadutha." Here is the first decided specimen of Aramaic, as contradistinguished from Hebrew. Its incidental appearance indicates a fully formed dialect known to Jacob, and distinct from his own. Gilead or Galeed remains to this day in Jebel Jel'ad, though the original spot was further north.44. Come thou, let us make a covenant—The way in which this covenant was ratified was by a heap of stones being laid in a circular pile, to serve as seats, and in the center of this circle a large one was set up perpendicularly for an altar. It is probable that a sacrifice was first offered, and then that the feast of reconciliation was partaken of by both parties seated on the stones around it. To this day heaps of stones, which have been used as memorials, are found abundantly in the region where this transaction took place. Both names signify the same thing, a heap of witness; only Laban gives the name in the Syrian language; but Jacob, though he had been long conversant in Syria, and understood that language, yet he chose to give it in Hebrew, which was both a secret renouncing of the Syrian manners and religion, together with their language, and an implicit profession of his conjunction with the Hebrews, as in their tongue, so in their religion. And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha,.... Which in the Syriac and Chaldee languages signifies "an heap of witness"; it being, as after observed, a witness of the covenant between Laban and Jacob:

but Jacob called it Galeed; which in the Hebrew tongue signifies the same, "an heap of witness"; or "an heap, the witness", for the same reason. Laban was a Syrian, as he sometimes is called, Genesis 25:20, wherefore he used the Syrian language; Jacob was a descendant of Abraham the Hebrew, and he used the Hebrew language; and both that their respective posterity might understand the meaning of the name; though these two are not so very different but Laban and Jacob could very well understand each other, as appears by their discourse together, these being but dialects of the same tongue.

And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it {k} Galeed.

(k) The one named the place in the Syrian tongue, and the other in the Hebrew tongue.

47. And Laban called it] This verse, which anticipates and does not agree with Genesis 31:48-49, must be a learned gloss.

Laban the Syrian (cf. Genesis 31:20, Genesis 28:5) gives an Aramaic name, Jacob the Hebrew gives a Hebrew name. In the region of Gilead, in later times, both languages were probably spoken1[25].

[25] “Pillars of testimony” occur to-day in groups at many places, especially where the traveller first catches sight of some sacred spot. Thereupon he sets stones one upon the other in the shape of a column, and says, “Oh, so and so (mentioning the name of the saint whose weli he sees), as I by this bear testimony to thee, so do thou bear testimony to me in the day of judgment” (Peters, Early Hebrew Story, p. 111f.).Verse 47. - And Laban called it Jegar sahadutha: - A Chaldaic term signifying "Heap of testimony," βουνὸς τῆς μαρτυρίας (LXX.); tumulum testis (Vulgate) - but Jacob called it Galeed - compounded of Gal and 'ed and meaning, like the corresponding Aramaic term used' by Laban, "Heap of witness," βουνὸς μάρτυς (LXX.); acervum testimonii (Vulgate). "It is scarcely possible to doubt," says Kalisch, "that an important historical fact," relating to the primitive language of the patriarchs, "is concealed in this part of the narrative;" but whether that fact was that Aramaic, Syriac, or Chaldee was the mother-tongue of the family of Nahor, while Hebrew was acquired by Abraham in Canaan (Block, Delitzsch, Keil), or that Laban had deviated from the original speech of his ancestors (Jerome, Augustine), or that' Laban and Jacob both used the same language with some growing dialectic differences (Gosman in Lange, Inglis), Laban simply on this occasion giving the heap a name which would be known to the inhabitants of the district (Wordsworth), seems impossible to determine with certainty. The most that ran be reasonably inferred from the term Jegar-sahadutha is that Aramaic was the language of Mesopotamia (Rosenmüller); besides this expression there is no other evidence that Laban and Jacob conversed in different dialects; while it is certain that the word Mizpah, which was probably also spoken by Laban, is not Chaldee or Aramaic but Hebrew. "I have been; by day (i.e., I have been in this condition, that by day) heat has consumed (prostrated) me, and cold by night" - for it is well known, that in the East the cold by night corresponds to the heat by day; the hotter the day the colder the night, as a rule.
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