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Genesis Chapter Thirty-One


I. Content of the Chapter


Jacob Left for Padan Aram

A.  Jacob wanted to return to the land of his fathers and his family (v.1-16);

B.  Jacob fled from Laban (v.17-21);

C.  Laban overtook Jacob (v.22-29);

D.  Conflicts between Jacob and Laban (v.30-42);

E.  Jacob made a covenant with Laban and parted from him (v.43-55);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Gen. 31:1Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth.”

YLT: “And he heareth the words of Laban's sons, saying, `Jacob hath taken all that our father hath; yea, from that which our father hath, he hath made all this honour;'”

Meaning of Words: “wealth”: the weight of wealth;

Literal Meaning: “has acquired all this wealth”, Laban’s sons envied Jacob prosperity and complained that Jacob had robbed their father’s possessions.

  Jacob seemed to be so happy to acquire all the wealth in Haran that he forgot to return to his family, so here God reminded him through the gossip of others that he had not to stay there long.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Laban’s sons’ word indicated that they though Jacob was not worthy of the wages ---- the selfish man can only think of his own profit instead of that of others.

  2) If men in the world provide some chances to make others become rich, they may think others have robbed all that they have. This is because of envy. Only those who have a wide mind are willing to share the chances with others.

  3) As far as those who know the heavenly things are concerned, wealth and glory in the sight of the world cannot be compared with the eternal glory in surpassing measure (2Cor. 4:17).

  4) Man’s evaluation of the worldly wealth is the source of all his covetousness and envy and sins. 


Gen. 31:2And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before.

YLT: “and Jacob seeth the face of Laban, and lo, it is not with him as heretofore.”

Literal Meaning: countenance” refers to the expressions and attitudes.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Envy is a kind of sin manifest on one’s face. Though many people do not say in their mouth, their inner words have been unconsciously exposed through their attitudes.

  2) God often reveals his guidance through various environmental signs ---- the complaints of Laban’s sons and Laban’s countenance.

  3) All things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28). Watching the moods of men carefully is the secret for believers to search for external information. 


Gen. 31:3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”

YLT: “And Jehovah saith unto Jacob, `Turn back unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I am with thee.'”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The verse two verses mention the external situations, but they cannot represent the whole guidance of God. The external situation is merely a sign that reminds us of hearing the inner voice.

  2) The world is not an everlasting dwelling place for us, just as Haran was not a permanent dwelling place for Jacob. Christians are merely sojourners and pilgrims on the earth (Heb 11:13).

  3) When we are in this world, God may give us many physical blessings or many children. However, if we love the world, He will come to awake us ad call us back to Him.

  4) Only when Jacob took the homeward journey, would God be with him. Likewise, only when we obey the guidance of God and step forward, can we truly feel that God is with us.


Gen. 31:4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock,

YLT: “And Jacob sendeth and calleth for Rachel and for Leah to the field unto his flock;”

Literal Meaning: Rachel and Leah” the name of sister Rachel was mentioned earlier (see v.14).

Enlightenment in the Word: that Jacob sought the views of his wives spoke of the principle of fellowship. Even though believers may have obtained clear guidance from God, it is still not suitable for them to act alone. Instead, they have to have fellowship with the family members or the saints.


Gen. 31:5and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me.

YLT: “and saith to them, `I am beholding your father's face -- that it is not towards me as heretofore, and the God of my father hath been with me,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Believers shall be assured of the presence of God when walking in the world, just like they are living in the sight of God.

  2) Even though the “countenance” of others is not favorable toward us, it is enough for us to have the presence of God solely.


Gen. 31:6And you know that with all my might I have served your father.

YLT: “and ye -- ye have known that with all my power I have served your father,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) No matter for the Lord or for men, believers shall do everything faithfully.

  2) Let us not be with eyeservice, as men-pleasers. And whatever we do, do it heartiy, as to the Lord and not to men (Col. 3:22-23).


Gen. 31:7Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

YLT: “and your father hath played upon me, and hath changed my hire ten times; and God hath not suffered him to do evil with me.”

Literal Meaning: changed my wages ten times”, “ten” in the Bible represents perfect, which indicated that Laban changed Jacob’s wages “many times” (see Num. 14:22; Nehe. 4:12; Job. 19:3).


Gen. 31:8If he said thus: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked.

YLT: “`If he say thus: The speckled are thy hire, then bare all the flock speckled ones; and if he say thus: The ring-straked are thy hire, then bare all the flock ring-straked;”

Enlightenment in the Word: God governs everything. If He does not permit (v.7), all human counsels will be in vain.


Gen. 31:9So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.

YLT: “and God taketh away the substance of your father, and doth give to me.”

Meaning of Words: “take away”: rescue; “give”: chance the ownership of something (a legal term);

Literal Meaning: Jacob did not emphasize that he obtained the speckled and spotted flock by setting the rods in the gutters (see 31:37-43), but that all the flocks were given by God, which revealed that he confessed that everything was governed and permitted by God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) No matter how hard we work, we still gain nothing without God’s blessings. Even though we gain something, it is not of God.

  2) There is a danger for those who are rich in this world ---- that is, they are prone to be arrogant, relying on uncertain riches instead of the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1Tim. 6:17).


Gen. 31:10“And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted.

YLT: “`And it cometh to pass at the time of the flock conceiving, that I lift up mine eyes and see in a dream, and lo, the he-goats, which are going up on the flock, ring-straked, speckled, and grisled;”

Literal Meaning: the rams which leaped upon the flocks”: the rams that were mating with the flocks;

Were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted”, it showed that the new-born lambs were also streaked and speckled and gray-spotted.

Enlightenment in the Word: Jacob’s dream revealed that he did not gain the flocks by his own method (see 31:37-43), but by the blessings of God.


Gen. 31:11Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’

YLT: “and the messenger of God saith unto me in the dream, Jacob, and I say, Here I.”

Literal Meaning: the Angel of God” is God Himself (v.13).


Gen. 31:12And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.

YLT: “`And He saith, Lift up, I pray thee, thine eyes, and see -- all the he-goats which are going up on the flock ring-straked, speckled, and grisled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to thee;”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) God has seen all the afflictions we suffer. God knows all our grievances, and He will stretch out His hands to deliver us out of our tribulations (see Ex. 3:7).

  2) Christians need not to take our vengeance, for our Lord knows all the sufferings inflicted upon us by the wicked. However, many times, the Lord makes us learn to undergo some trials in order to train our character.

  3) He who has spiritual insight will be enabled to see what God sees. Man’s physical eyes can only see his loss caused by others. However, spiritual eyes make us see the compensation of God.


Gen. 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’”

YLT: “I the God of Bethel where thou hast anointed a standing pillar, where thou hast vowed a vow to me; now, arise, go out from this land, and turn back unto the land of thy birth.'”

Literal Meaning: I am the God of Bethel: He was the Lord who manifested to Jacob in Bethel (see 28:19).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) We may often forget the situation of our first meeting God and devoting ourselves to God after many years, but God never forgets our conditions in the beginning (see Rev. 2:4).

  2) Wherever man is favored and knows God, he has to return to the gracious ground to fulfill his vow made unto God (see 28:16-22).

  3) Every spiritual turn of believers is caused by hearing the divine words: “Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family” ---- it equals to another verse: “remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast and repent” (Rev. 3:3).


Gen. 31:14Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?

YLT: “And Rachel answereth -- Leah also -- and saith to him, `Have we yet a portion and inheritance in the house of our father?”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) May we also say to ourselves like Rachel and Leah: “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in this world?”

  2) Hopelessness toward the world and abandoning all the attachment to the world will make us turn to spiritual realm.


Gen. 31:15Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money.

YLT: “have we not been reckoned strangers to him? for he hath sold us, and he also utterly consumeth our money;”

Literal Meaning: “he has sold us, Laban earned the fourteen-year free labor of Jacob by giving Leah and Rachel as commodities (see 29:18, 27).

“And also completely consumed our money, Laban did not give all the betrothal gifts of the bridegroom’s side to his daughters according to the local custom (see 24:53).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The avaricious desire may cause divisions in the family.

  2) All our deeds are seen by all those who are around. Parents shall set themselves as an example, or else the children will suffer loss.

  3) It is little wonder, but a great joy that believers are regarded as “strangers” by the world.


Gen. 31:16For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”

YLT: “for all the wealth which God hath taken away from our father, it ours, and our children's; and now, all that God hath said unto thee -- do.'”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) God is not unjust to forget our work and labor of love which we have shown toward His name (Heb. 6:10) ---- whatever we have devoted for the sake of Him, He will repay us much more than what we have presented.

  2) If a wife desires to be a good helper of her husband, she has to learn not to hinder his husband on the matter which God has called him to do.


Gen. 31:17Then Jacob rose and set his sons and his wives on camels.

YLT: “And Jacob riseth, and lifteth up his sons and his wives on the camels,”

Enlightenment in the Word: let us not only love the Lord and seek the Lord ourselves but also bring the whole family unto the Lord and serve Him (see Jos. 24:15).


Gen. 31:18And he carried away all his livestock and all his possessions which he had gained, his acquired livestock which he had gained in Padan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

YLT: “and leadeth all his cattle, and all his substance which he hath acquired, the cattle of his getting, which he hath acquired in Padan-Aram, to go unto Isaac his father, to the land of Canaan.”

Literal Meaning: it was not right for Jacob to flee without saying goodbye, but in that situation it might not be so easy to leave freely. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If we believers are not allowed to serve the Lord freely under certain circumstances, as long as we are assured of the calling of God, we need not to ask for permission of others.

  2) Property represents our body, spirit, time, talent, etc. All the spirit and soul and body of each believer shall be presented to the Lord. Let us not draw near to the Lord in spirit only but let all the rest remain in the world.


Gen. 31:19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father’s.

YLT: “And Laban hath gone to shear his flock, and Rachel stealeth the teraphim which her father hath;”

The Background: at that time, every family of the Syrians worshiped the sculptured idols and took then as their family gods. Such idols could be used for divination (see 30:27), and the Syrians worshipped them for peace and good fortune. It was also said that they could also be the proof of distributing inheritances to the sons.

Literal Meaning: now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, he left home and went to the place of his flocks, which was about three-days’ journey (see 30:36), so at that time Laban could not go back instantly.

Enlightenment in the Word: if we love something besides Christ in our heart and replace God with it, it has become our “idol”. 


Gen. 31:20 And Jacob stole away, unknown to Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee.

YLT: “and Jacob deceiveth the heart of Laban the Aramaean, because he hath not declared to him that he is fleeing;”


Gen. 31:21So he fled with all that he had. He arose and crossed the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gilead.

YLT: “and he fleeth, he and all that he hath, and riseth, and passeth over the River, and setteth his face the mount of Gilead.”

Meaning of Words: Gilead”: rocky, the heap of witness;

Literal Meaning: “he arose and crossed the river”: the river Euphrates;

And headed toward the mountains of Gilead”, “the mountains of Gilead”: the mountainous region on the east bank of Jordan river, here it showed that he went to the southwest, to his own place and to his country (see 30:25).


Gen. 31:22And Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled.

YLT: “And it is told to Laban on the third day that Jacob hath fled,”


Gen. 31:23Then he took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead.

YLT: “and he taketh his brethren with him, and pursueth after him a journey of seven days, and overtaketh him in the mount of Gilead.”

Literal Meaning: his brethren”: they were not only his relatives but also his aligned brothers (see 14:13). 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) When a believer purposes to step upon the spiritual way, the worldly “human relationship” will come to chase us and exhort us: “be not to too zealous, for it is enough to believe the Lord”.

  2) Satan often hides behind “human relationship” to hinder us from walking on the way of the cross so that we will have the mind of man instead of that of God (Matt. 16:22-23).


Gen. 31:24But God had come to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, “Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.”

YLT: “And God cometh in unto Laban the Aramaean in a dream of the night, and saith to him, `Take heed to thyself lest thou speak with Jacob from good unto evil.'”

Literal Meaning: speak to Jacob neither good nor bad”: do not speak to Jacob any threatening words (see v.29).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) When we are in the darkest and the most difficult situation, God will come and keep us. Many believers are delivered out of disasters for the sake of God’s intervention.

  2) There is always a time limit for the trials that believers undergo. When the purpose of the trials is fulfilled, God will release us and not allow anyone or anything to hold us.


Gen. 31:25So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mountains of Gilead.

YLT: “And Laban overtaketh Jacob; and Jacob hath fixed his tent in the mount; and Laban with his brethren have fixed in the mount of Gilead.”


Gen. 31:26And Laban said to Jacob: “What have you done, that you have stolen away unknown to me, and carried away my daughters like captives taken with the sword?

YLT: “And Laban saith to Jacob, `What hast thou done that thou dost deceive my heart, and lead away my daughters as captives of the sword?”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) People may commonly blame others for what have they done”, but seldom examine themselves: “it is caused by myself?”

  2) Laban thought his daughters were taken away by Jacob reluctantly, but it was not so in fact (see v.14-16). Are we also subjective and stubborn and ignorant of our observation of the circumstances and our understanding of men’s heart?


Gen. 31:27Why did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp?

YLT: “Why hast thou hidden thyself to flee, and deceivest me, and hast not declared to me, and I send thee away with joy and with songs, with tabret and with harp,”

The Background: “harp”, the harp in the ancient Middle East had generally six to twelve strings, which was much smaller than the modern harp. 


Gen. 31:28And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in so doing.

YLT: “and hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? -- now thou hast acted foolishly in doing ;”

Literal Meaning: had Laban been truly so generous as he said, Jacob would not have “fled away secretly” (v.27).


Gen. 31:29It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’

YLT: “my hand is to God to do evil with you, but the God of your father yesternight hath spoken unto me, saying, Take heed to thyself from speaking with Jacob from good unto evil.”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The peace of saints is often due to the restraint set by God on the wicked ones.

  2) God’s word did not change Laban’s “heart” but had bound his “hands”.


Gen. 31:30And now you have surely gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”

YLT: “`And now, thou hast certainly gone, because thou hast been very desirous for the house of thy father; why hast thou stolen my gods?'”

Literal Meaning: someone thought according to the ancient customs the ownership of the properties depended on the ownership of the gods. Therefore, Laban even made such a long journey to take back the gods so that the properties would not outflow.


Gen. 31:31Then Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force.’

YLT: “And Jacob answereth and saith to Laban, `Because I was afraid, for I said, Lest thou take violently away thy daughters from me;”

The Background: according to the ancient custom in the Middle East, whoever was willing to be a bondman, his wives and children were also owned by the master (see Ex. 21:4-6). 

Literal Meaning: Jacob’s anxiety was not groundless, for Laban himself also confess it was possible (see v.43).


Gen. 31:32With whomever you find your gods, do not let him live. In the presence of our brethren, identify what I have of yours and take it with you.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

YLT: “with whomsoever thou findest thy gods -- he doth not live; before our brethren discern for thyself what with me, and take to thyself:' and Jacob hath not known that Rachel hath stolen them.”

Literal Meaning: apparently Jacob did not know the fact and was deceived by Rachel whom he loved most.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Man often does not know himself and spouts off big talk.

  2) Even though we believers deal with things right, we have to still speak carefully. Otherwise we may unconsciously put others in an unfavorable situation.

  3) May the Lord search the inner depth of us and see whether we have any hidden idol within and whether our heart is entangled by anyone or anything so that we cannot run the way before us (Heb. 12:1).


Gen. 31:33And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the two maids’ tents, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent.

YLT: “And Laban goeth into the tent of Jacob, and into the tent of Leah, and into the tent of the two handmaidens, and hath not found; and he goeth out from the tent of Leah, and goeth into the tent of Rachel.”


Gen. 31:34Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them.

YLT: “And Rachel hath taken the teraphim, and putteth them in the furniture of the camel, and sitteth upon them; and Laban feeleth all the tent, and hath not found;”

Literal Meaning: the camel’s saddle”, it was put on the back of the camel, which had two bags on both sides.


Gen. 31:35And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the household idols.

YLT: “and she saith unto her father, `Let it not be displeasing in the eyes of my lord that I am not able to rise at thy presence, for the way of women on me;' and he searcheth, and hath not found the teraphim.”

Literal Meaning: the manner of women is with me”, it meant that it was inconvenient for her to let Laban search for the sake of menstruation. The ancient people thought a woman in menstruation was unclean and whoever touched her or whatever was touched by her would be unclean (see Lev. 15:19-24)

  Laban failed in searched out the household idols, for God would keep the life of Rachel (see 32), not keep the household idols. Therefore, later God dealt with them and forced them to remove the false gods (see 35:2).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) He who deceives others is deceived. If one does not want to be deceived, he shall not deceive others.

  2) Rachel did wrong to steal the household idols first and then she had to conceal it with a lie. Therefore, sin may bear its son.

  3) Idols are vain and useless and cannot keep themselves. How can they keep men?


Gen. 31:36Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me?

YLT: “And it is displeasing to Jacob, and he striveth with Laban; and Jacob answereth and saith to Laban, `What my transgression? what my sin, that thou hast burned after me?”


Gen. 31:37Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both!

YLT: “for thou hast felt all my vessels: what hast thou found of all the vessels of thy house? set here before my brethren, and thy brethren, and they decide between us both.”


Gen. 31:38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock.

YLT: “`These twenty years I with thee: thy ewes and thy she-goats have not miscarried, and the rams of thy flock I have not eaten;”

Literal Meaning: “these twenty years I have been with you”, please reach the commentary of verse forty one.


Gen. 31:39That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.

YLT: “the torn I have not brought in unto thee -- I, I repay it -- from my hand thou dost seek it; I have been deceived by day, and I have been deceived by night;”

The Background: according to the custom at that time, if the sheep were torn by beasts, the shepherds could bring the rest parts of the sheep to the master to be a proof so that the master would bear the loss and the shepherd needed not to compensate (see Ex. 22:12).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Jacob’s faithfulness was an example for all servants. Let us take care of all both that are of us and that are entrusted by the master equally.

  2) All the children and properties and gifts etc. we have today are of the Lord. All the faithful servants of the Lord shall take care of the children and properties and gifts etc. entrusted by the Lord.


Gen. 31:40There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.

YLT: “I have been in the day consumed me hath drought, and frost by night, and wander doth my sleep from mine eyes.”

Literal Meaning: it was true that there was a vast difference in temperature between day and night.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Our sufferings are not worthy to be compared with that of Jacob. Suffering is a good helper that trains and perfects Jacob. Likewise, it is also a good chance to edify us and make us increase.

  2) Sufferings make us have more trust in God (2Cor. 1:8-9).

  3) Let us commit ourselves into the hands of the Creator and wait for the fulfillment of the purpose of our sufferings. Then God will surely lead us out of the sufferings. 


Gen. 31:41 Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.

YLT: “`This to me twenty years in thy house: I have served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy flock; and thou changest my hire ten times;”

Literal Meaning: thus I have been in your house twenty years”, the majority of the Bible expositors think this “twenty years” are just that “twenty years” mentioned in verse thirty-eight.

  And some Bible expositors think “twenty years” in the two verses represent different periods. “Twenty years” in this verse represented the first twenty years of Jacob’s labor for Laban in Laban’s house. And the “twenty years” in verse thirty eight referred to the period during which Jacob shepherded the flocks of Laban three days’ journey away, and at that time Laban often went to be with Jacob in order to watch him (see 30:35-36). (Note though the editor does not agree with such interpretation, it is just provided for readers just for reference.)


Gen. 31:42Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”

YLT: “unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had been for me, surely now empty thou hadst sent me away; mine affliction and the labour of my hands hath God seen, and reproveth yesternight.'”

Meaning of Words: “fear”: tremble;

Enlightenment in the Word: thank God! He has seen and known all our labor.


Gen. 31:43And Laban answered and said to Jacob, “These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock; all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?

YLT: “And Laban answereth and saith unto Jacob, `The daughters my daughters, and the sons my sons, and the flock my flock, and all that thou art seeing mine; and to my daughters -- what do I to these to-day, or to their sons whom they have born?”


Gen. 31:44Now therefore, come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.”

YLT: “and now, come, let us make a covenant, I and thou, and it hath been for a witness between me and thee.'”


Gen. 31:45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.

YLT: “And Jacob taketh a stone, and lifteth it up a standing pillar;”

Literal Meaning: “set up as a pillar”, it was for the purpose of bearing witness of meeting God (see 28:19). Here the stone of pillar was used to be a proof of mutual nonaggression (see v.52).


Gen. 31:46Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap.

YLT: “and Jacob saith to his brethren, `Gather stones,' and they take stones, and make a heap; and they eat there on the heap;”

Enlightenment in the Word: everyone who has been favored is a stone. And all the stones are built up together (1Pet. 2:5) to become a corporate testimony.


Gen. 31:47Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha,[a] but Jacob called it Galeed.

YLT: “and Laban calleth it Jegar-Sahadutha; and Jacob hath called it Galeed.”

Literal Meaning: Jegar Sahadutha Galeed”, the former was in Aramaic, and the latter was in Hebrew. Both of them mean “bearing witness by making a heap of stones”.


Gen. 31:48And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed,

YLT: “And Laban saith, `This heap witness between me and thee to-day;' therefore hath he called its name Galeed;”


Gen. 31:49also Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.

YLT: “Mizpah also, for he said, `Jehovah doth watch between me and thee, for we are hidden one from another;”

Meaning of Words: Mizpah”: watch tower;

Literal Meaning: this was a word of Laban, which did not show trust, but suspicion. If justice is kept in love, there is no need of testimony by a heap of stones, for “Mizpah” is used to remind men that God searches them.

Controversial Clarification: many believers use “Mizpah” to be a word of comfort in the time of parting, thinking that God will look on them. Actually, it is a misapplication of the Scriptures. “Mizpah” means asking God to search both sides in case of hurting one another on account of the lack of trust.


Gen. 31:50If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!”

YLT: “if thou afflict my daughters, or take wives beside my daughters -- there is no man with us -- see, God witness between me and thee.'”

Enlightenment in the Word: all we children of God shall not treat with others bitterly or bully others.


Gen. 31:51Then Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me.

YLT: “And Laban saith to Jacob, `Lo, this heap, and lo, the standing pillar which I have cast between me and thee;”

Literal Meaning: the heap of stones and the pillar became the boundary between Jacob and Laban.


Gen. 31:52This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.

YLT: “this heap witness, and the standing pillar witness, that I do not pass over this heap unto thee, and that thou dost not pass over this heap and this standing pillar unto me -- for evil;”

Literal Meaning: they were making a covenant of nonaggression.

Enlightenment in the Word: God has appointed to us the limits of the sphere (2Cor. 10:13). Let us not go beyond the limits to infringe the right of others or trample others.


Gen. 31:53The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.

YLT: “the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, doth judge between us -- the God of their father,' and Jacob sweareth by the Fear of his father Isaac.”

Literal Meaning: the God of Nahor”, it is in the plural in the original, referring to the false gods.

  And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac”, though Jacob did not confess God was his God, he had known that there is only one God and no one is God beside Him.

Enlightenment in the Word: Jacob could not confess “the God of Nahor”, but only swore by the God of his father Isaac, which indicated that the promise of God started from His election. And His election was done by Himself, and no one could have a hand in.


Gen. 31:54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain.

YLT: “And Jacob sacrificeth a sacrifice in the mount, and calleth to his brethren to eat bread, and they eat bread, and lodge in the mount;”

Literal Meaning: “then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, note that here it was Jacob that offered a sacrifice, and Laban did not.

“And called his brethren to eat bread”, he called all to come to eat the sacrifice that was offered. If the both sides of a covenant ate the sacrifice that was offered together on the table of God, it showed mutual acceptance and fellowship.


Gen. 31:55And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

YLT: “and Laban riseth early in the morning, and kisseth his sons and his daughters, and blesseth them; and Laban goeth on, and turneth back to his place.”

Enlightenment in the Word: Laban “returned to his place”, and Judas also went to his own place (Acts 1:25). However we go to the place which we should afterwards receive for an inheritance, namely a better and heavenly country (Heb. 11:8, 16). 


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


How to Understand the Will of God

A.  Through God’s guidance in the environment:

1. The complaints of Laban’s sons (v.1);

2. The unkind attitude of Laban (v.2, 5);

B.  Through God’s direct revelation:

1. God’s word (v.3, 13);

2. The vision and calling in the dream ---- the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (v.11-12);

C.  Through the fellowship among the saints:

1. Tell the detailed situation to the wives (v.4-13);

2. Obtain the agreement of the wives (v.14-16);


Jacob Typifies the Israelites

A.  Who was far away from the promised land (26:3);

B.  Who was not welcomed among the Gentiles (v.1-2);

C.  Who was oppressed by the Gentiles but was kept by God (v.6-7);

D.  Who was beloved by God and greatly blessed (v.8-10);

E.  Who was brought by God to return to his family (v.3, 13);


The Advantages of Jacob

A.  He has spiritual sense of hearing and vision (v.1-2);

B.  He has the word of God (v.3);

C.  He has the presence of God (v.5);

D.  He does everything diligently and faithfully (v.6);

E.  He has the protection of God (v.7);

F.   He has the blessing of God (v.8-10);

G.  He has a devoting heart toward God (v.13);

H.  He has a right testimony before men (v.32, 37);

I.     He does not struggle with others, but withdraws (v.38-41);

J.   He is willing to keep peaceful with others (v.44-54);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou