Friday, June 24, 2011

Genesis 31:22-32

Jacob and his family have fled - but after three days Laban hears they are missing (he didn’t notice?) - and, with the rest of the clan, he pursues Jacob! However, while he’s on his way, he has a dream in which God speaks to him:

Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” (Gen 31:24)

Apparently there are better renderings of what God said to Laban, according to both Beth Moore, in The Patriarchs, and Jon Courson, in his commentary. Beth says it would be more correct to translate the Hebrew as either “Refrain from threatening Jacob with any harm,” or “Take care not to contradict Jacob.” Jon Courson suggests the following paraphrase: “Don’t greet Jacob warmly only to later turn on him as is your usual custom.”

When Laban finally catches up with Jacob, he and his crew (all of Jacob’s in-laws) camp alongside Jacob’s group. Think of all that would be going through Jacob’s mind - and certainly Rachel’s. After all, she has pilfered her father’s household “gods!” Laban says a LOT to Jacob, for someone who had just been told by God to stifle it:

Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps? You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-by. You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s house. But why did you steal my gods?” (vs. 26-30)

“You deceived me. . .” Are you KIDDING me? This is one very black pot confronting this kettle!!! Why is it that we so often fail to see in ourselves the things we criticize others for??? The LORD has so graciously held up the mirror to me lately (as in this week) when I’ve been in the middle of complaining about someone else’s behavior! Thank you, LORD, that you don’t let your children get away with that!!!

“. . .you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war.” We saw in verses 14-16 that Rachel and Leah couldn’t get away from their father quickly enough!

“Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing. . .” REALLY??? How did he say this stuff with a straight face? Then he gets a little ugly: “You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you. . .” That’s a fairly direct threat! But he then remembers what the LORD said to him, and shifts to the accusation: “But why did you steal my gods?” Now, why doesn’t he see the irony in that question? Can real “gods” be stolen??? What good are these “gods” then? How can they protect Laban and his family, if they can’t even protect themselves from thieves? :) I’m thinking this has to be one of the most comical scenes in the Old Testament (right up there with Balaam and his talking donkey in Numbers 22).

Now, you’ll notice that Jacob doesn’t try to answer all of these ridiculous charges (nor does he sink to sarcasm the way I would and just did). He merely states why they went off without a goodbye: “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force.” (vs. 31) Not knowing that his beloved Rachel had taken the “gods,” he tells Laban to go ahead and search: “But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” (vs. 32)

We’ll see next time that Rachel knows how to play the deception game well! She learned from the master, her father!


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