Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Genesis 31:22-24 Laban Pursues Jacob

"On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled.  Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead.  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.' " (Genesis 31:22-24 NIV)

The first impression I had when reading this text was that Laban must have been pretty angry to chase after Jacob and his family for seven days.  Seven days!  I can see that Laban would be angry at first.  But maintaining that 'chase mode' for a week?! We know why Laban is upset.  His son-in-law Jacob is gone -- the one who had once helped him increase his wealth.  Now most of that wealth has become the property of Jacob, and Laban is probably left about where he was before Jacob came, wealth-wise.  Even his daughters and grandchildren are gone, and the way they left would not make him look good in the community.  People talk -- and it would be very hard to explain why your own family felt it was necessary to flee from you!  I can see Laban gathering his relatives and rushing off to try to change the situation, or at least express his anger.  Perhaps he also thought he could force Jacob to give back some of those flocks which God had given him!

Fortunately, Jacob's God continued to uphold His promise to be with Jacob and to protect him.  God warns Laban not to say anything -- good or bad -- to Jacob.  Whether God meant that Laban should not even talk to Jacob is uncertain, but I believe He just meant 'don't argue or even try to reason calmly with Jacob about these matters.'  As far as God was concerned, Jacob's return to Canaan was a done deal -- and Laban had better not get in the way of His plan.

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