Jacob Prospers and Begins the Journey Home

Genesis 30:25-31:55
I. A. Who are the primary people in this passage? What do we know about them? 1. Jacob 2. 3. Laban Rachel

B. When does this passage take place? 1. The first part of the chapter appears to happen between 14 and 20 years after Jacob arrived in Haran. • 31:38 tells us that Jacob had been with Laban for 20 years by the end of this section. • If we use the sequence of pregnancies in the previous section and place them back-to-back, eliminating any that could overlap, we can estimate 36 months (29:31-35) plus 18 months (30:9-12) plus 27 months (30:17-21) plus 9 months (30:23), we can conservatively estimate a total of 90 months (7 ½ years) until the birth of Joseph, mentioned as the starting point of this chapter (30:25). The first 7 years of the 20, Jacob was working to earn is first wife. 2. The second part of this passage begins roughly 20 years after Jacob arrived in Haran (31:38) C. Where does this passage take place? The passage begins in Haran/Padan Aram and ends in Gilead, east of the Jordan River. D. What is happening? (Summary of Events) 1. Jacob discusses with Laban his desire to return to his homeland and work for himself instead of Laban (30:25-30) 2. Laban knows that Jacob had made him wealthy and tries to convince him to stay by offering to let Jacob name his wages (30:27-31) 3. Jacob agrees to stay on the condition that he be allowed to keep “every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and every spotted and speckled goat” (30:31-33) 4. Laban agrees, but attempts to cheat Jacob by removing the streaked and spotted male and female goats and dark-colored lambs from the flock (30:34-36) 5. Jacob uses certain trees to stimulate breeding (Ryrie) and practices selective breeding to produce a large, strong, and healthy flock of “off colored” livestock. As his flocks increased, so did his wealth and prosperity (30:37-43) 6. Jacob hears of the bitterness of Laban’s sons and notices that Laban’s attitude toward Jacob had changed (31:1-2) 7. The Lord instructs Jacob to return home, so he sends word to Rachel and Leah and explains his reasons for now being the time for all of them to leave and return back to his homeland. (31:1-13) 8. Rachel and Leah voice their approval and soon they all set out with their wealth toward Canaan. (31:14-18) 9. Before they left, Rachel stole her father’s gods; Jacob did not tell Laban of their leaving for Canaan. (31:19-21) 10. Laban discovers that Jacob and his family had fled, so he pursues them and catches up with them in Gilead (31:22-23) 11. God tells Laban not to say anything to Jacob, but Laban confronts Jacob about leaving suddenly and unannounced and accuses Jacob of stealing Laban’s gods. (31:24-30) 12. Jacob claims to have feared that Laban would take his wives from him and denies taking Laban’s gods. (31:31-32) 13. Laban searches the entire camp and does not find his gods, even though Rachel was sitting on them (31:33-35) 14. Jacob confronts Laban for falsely accusing him and for all the times Laban had dealt with him dishonestly (31:36-42) 15. Laban and Jacob decide to make a covenant with one another and build a monument of stones as a barrier (31:43-47) 16. The monument served as a witness of the pact: Jacob would not mistreat Laban’s daughters or take any more wives. Also, both men agreed not to cross that point to harm the other. (31:48-53) 17. Jacob makes an oath, offers a sacrifice, and then they all shared a meal. Laban left in the morning after saying his goodbyes to his daughters and grandchildren. (31:53-55). II. Interpretation & Discussion Questions • What are the main principles illustrated in this passage? What is the theme?

How do the events of this passage connect with the events of Jacob’s earlier life?

III. Application • How do you respond when treated unjustly? Jacob could have thought of many ways to repay Laban for his deceit, but he chose instead to allow God to be the Judge. We can take heart that God does preside over the events of our lives and his justice will always prevail…even though we may not see it or understand it at the time.

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