SECTION FIVE - JACOB
JACOB AND LABAN
JACOBíS LOVE LIFE Genesis 29-31
In the next three chapters of Genesis is found the record of Jacobís twenty long years away from the land of Canaan and his home. It will be recalled that he was probably close to seventy-five years old when he left home, so that he was almost ninety-five when he came back. However, in terms of normal aging and life spans today, these figures could be cut almost in half to correspond to equivalent situations in our own time. Even so, he was still well along in years to be leaving home for the first time and to be looking for a wife.
JACOB MEETS RACHEL Genesis 29:1-14
29:4 MY BRETHREN
It is interesting to note that both Jacob and the young shepherds still spoke the same language. The language of Haran was Aramaic, or Chaldee, and was evidently a language well known to Abraham, and therefore also to Isaac and Jacob. The means by which these patriarchs communicated with the Canaanites, and even with the Egyptians, in the course of their travels, is never mentioned. Their languages were certainly quite different. Evidently they either spoke through interpreters or else they themselves were good linguists and had learned several languages. As far as the immediate family of Abraham was concerned, however, it is reasonable that they all had continued to speak Aramaic, as well as Hebrew.
29:5 WE KNOW HIM
There is no word in Biblical Hebrew corresponding to our Ďyesí; consequently the answer to a question is a repetition of the words or word in the affirmative or negative.
29:9 RACHEL CAME
While this discussion was taking place, Rachel arrived with her fatherís flock. The phrase, "for she kept them," actually says in the Hebrew, "for she was a shepherdess," thus calling attention to the fact that it was somewhat unusual for a woman to do this kind of work. Laban did indeed have sons (Genesis 31:1), as well as two daughters, and these sons did tend his flocks (Genesis 30:35). Evidently at this time they were either too young or else Laban had so many flocks and herds, in different regions, that it took his whole family to care for them.
29:10 HIS MOTHERíS BROTHER
Jacob disregards the local custom, and by a feat of great personal strength, removes the stone. The phrase Ďhis motherís brotherí is used three times in this verse, to denote the joy Jacob felt in meeting and helping a member of his motherís family.
29:11 JACOB KISSED RACHEL
When Jacob saw Rachel, there is no doubt that he was thrilled beyond words. She was a beautiful woman (Genesis 29:17), in addition to being industrious and strong enough to shepherd her fatherís sheep. This was not intended as a kiss of personal love, of course, but rather simply a kiss of greeting; but even this was practiced only by relatives or close friends, so that it must surely have startled Rachel.
29:12 SHE RAN AND TOLD HER FATHER
Now it was Rachelís turn to be emotional! When she learned who Jacob was, she immediately ran as fast as she could to tell her father the glad news. Rebekah had left her brother almost one hundred years before, on almost a momentís notice; and so far as the record goes, he had never seen her since. Laban was overjoyed at this news from his sister and at the opportunity of meeting his nephew.
29:14 MY BONE AND MY FLESH
As his near kinsman, he is welcome to his home. It is interesting that he used the term "my bone and my flesh," no doubt an unintentional and prescientific (but no less truly scientific) recognition of genetic controls specifying that Jacobís physical characteristics must be closely like those of Laban. Both Isaac and Rebekah were close relatives of Laban and their son would be like him as well.
29:15 SERVE ME FOR NOUGHT?
Laban had found that Jacob was a willing and able worker and, furthermore, he realized that he would eventually come into a substantial inheritance. He had surely observed by this time Jacobís evident affection for Rachel, and recognized there would be many advantages to having him as a son-in-law. He wanted to bind Jacob to him in some way, and rather craftily let Jacob himself name the terms, anticipating that, because of Jacobís desire for Rachel, he would get a better bargain this way. Seven years of free service, by a man who was an exceptional worker, and surely a fine windfall for Laban, especially in view of the fact that he would have been happy to have Jacob marry into the family regardless.
29:17 LEíAH WAS TENDER EYED
This does not necessarily mean "weak-eyed," however, as some have interpreted it; it could mean that she did not have eyes as dark and lustrous as those of Rachel, or it might even refer figuratively to Leah as a woman of compassion.
29:18 FOR RACHEL
See Genesis 24:53. It is still the custom in the East for a man who cannot provide money or cattle, to offer his labour as a substitute for such compensation.
29:20 BUT A FEW DAYS
The six Hebrew words of which this is the translation condense a world of affection and tenderest love. They are unsurpassed in the whole literature of romantic love. Jacob gladly served his seven years for Rachel, and the joyful anticipation of having her for his wife made the time pass quickly.
29:23 HE TOOK LEAH
Both of his daughters were apparently well beyond the age at which women usually married, and Laban my have become quite concerned about finding a husband for Leah, the older sister. According to Labanís later explanation (verse 26), it was contrary to strong custom for the younger to wed before the older; and since Leah had been unable to find a husband, both she and Rachel had remained unmarried. Laban certainly should have explained this to Jacob at the time of his proposal, but he kept it to himself, not wishing to lose the opportunity to have Jacob work for him and to get him into the family.
Heavily veiled and in the dark. This fraud may be regarded as a retribution for the deception which Jacob himself practiced upon his father.
29:25 WHAT IS THIS THOU HAST DONE?
At the first opportunity, he confronted Laban with a demand for an explanation. Laban responded with his rehearsed answer that the older sister must always be the first to wed. Then, he proposed his new bargain. If Jacob would fulfill Leahís wedding *week, Laban would then give him Rachel also, provided Jacob serve Laban another *seven years.
29:28 HE GAVE HIM RACHEL HIS DAUGHTER TO WIFE ALSO
He therefore fulfilled Leahís week, and then Laban finally gave Rachel to him. Jacob was thus more or less forced to become a bigamist. In light of the times, however, this was not a serious a corruption of the marriage relation as it would be in the Christian dispensation. Polygamy was quite common; Jacobís own brother had two wives, and his grandfather (Abraham) had taken Hagar as well as Sarah as his wife After the giving of the Law at Sinai, the marrying of two sisters was forbidden.
29:29 BILHAH HIS HANDMAID
Mention is made here (verses 24 and 29) of the two maids that Laban gave Leah and Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah, respectively. They too were destined to play an important role in Jacobís home and family life.
THE SONS OF JACOB
Whereas Abraham and Isaac had only had one son each to whom the promises were given, all the sons of Jacob were to share in the promises. Only one would be the progenitor of the Messiah (Judah), but all would be the "children of Israel" and would constitute the promised nation, the chosen people. Therefore, a detailed account is given in the latter part of chapter 29 and the first half of chapter 30 concerning the birth of Jacobís twelve sons and one daughters.
29:31 LEAH WAS HATED
The word here only means Ďless lovedí not that Jacob had an aversion to her, but that he preferred Rachel. See Deut. 21:15.
29:31 RACHEL WAS BARREN
Rachel, like Sarah and Rebekah before her, was "barren" for a time, until the Lord answered her prayers for a son. In the meantime, though, since Jacob was so partial to Rachel , and so "slighted" Leah, God opened Leahís womb (Jeremiah 1:5) first and gave her, in fairly rapid succession, four sons.
29:32 AND SHE CALLED HIS NAME
Each of her sons was named by Leah in accordance with her feelings at the time. Her first-born was named Reuben, meaning "Behold, a son!" Her second was Simeon, "Hearing," in thanksgiving for the fact that God had heard her prayers. The next was Levi, meaning "Attachment," expressing her confidence that three sons would thus ensure Jacobís permanent attachment to her. Then came Judah, whom she called simply "Praise," as a token of her praise to Jehovah.
Leah seems to have been a godly woman, who spent much time in prayer concerning her marriage and her children. She acknowledged that her sons were given by the Lord in response to her prayers and her difficult position in the home. The fourth of her sons, Judah, was the only one whose name did not reflect her own personal situation, his name being a simple expression of praise to God. It is perhaps significant that this is the one through whom God intended one day to bring the Messiah into the world.
30:1 GIVE ME CHILDREN, OR ELSE I DIE
Rachel, of course, could hardly have been unmoved by the fact that her sister (who, no doubt, had been somewhat the object of her own resentment for may years, since she had been forced to wait for her own marriage until Leah could find a husband) had been blessed with four sons while she remained barren. She could also see Jacobís love gradually shifting from her to Leah because of this.
30:3 UPON MY KNEES
A figurative expression denoting the adoption of a child. In desperation, Rachel decided to resort to the expedient that had been followed by Sarah long ago-that of having a child through her maid. This device was an accepted social custom of the day. In fact, it is quite possible that it was for this very purpose-as a guard against barrenness that Laban gave each of his daughters a personal maid.
30:5 BILHAH CONCEIVED
Bilhah was immediately successful, and she bore Jacob a son, whom Rachel named Dan, meaning "Justice," testifying through this name that God had heard her prayer and justified her in her husbandís sight.
30:7 BILHAH RACHELíS MAID CONCEIVED AGAIN
Pleased with the quick success of this procedure, Rachel had Jacob continue to lie with Bilhah, now regarded as an actual wife of Jacob, though only a second-class wife (more like a concubine), and she soon became pregnant with a second son. This one Rachel named Naphtali, which means "Wrestling." This unusual name was a reference to her long-continued rivalry with her sister. Jacob would love her more now.
30:9 SHE TOOK ZILPAH
Leahís maid, Zilpah, also had two sons in quick succession, once Jacob had gone in to her. Leah named them Gad and Asher, meaning "Fortunate" and "Happy," respectively. The King James translation here ("a troop cometh") seems to be in error. The name "Gad" was associated with a pagan god of luck, but Leah used the word, no doubt, merely as an expression of her good fortune, sent to her by God, in the form of a fifth son. Then, when she had a sixth one, she truly was overjoyed. She, who had been despised as unmanageable for so long, now would be acknowledged as unusually blessed, even by those young woman who once had made her the object of their sneering gossip.
Or, as the RV Margin translates, Ďlove-apples.í The fruit is of the size of a large plum, quite round, yellow and full of soft pulp. The fruit is still considered in the East as a love-charm. This explains Rachelís anxiety to obtain it. It has also been used as a narcotic and emetic, especially its large roots. It was no doubt because of its supposed value in promoting fertility that both Leah and Rachel desired it.
30:17 LEAH CONCEIVED
Leah had also been praying about the situation. The only time when Jacob had really shown much love for her was after she had borne him his first four sons. Leah conceived. She took this as a reward from the Lord for being willing to share Jacob with her own maid. Accordingly, she named her own fifth son Issachar, meaning "Reward."
30:19 LEAH CONCEIVED AGAIN
This development did, indeed, cause Jacobís attentions to turn again to Leah, and so he continued to spend much time with her. She soon had another son, whom she named Zebulun, meaning "Dwelling." This, she said, was in testimony of Godís gracious gift to her, assuring her that her husband now would be willing to dwell with her.
30:21 SHE BARE A DAUGHTER
At this point, Jacobís first daughter was born to Leah. Later Jacob had other daughters (Genesis 37:35; 46:7,15), but the only one whose name and whose motherís name is given is Dinah, meaning "Judgment." Any father who has had several sons before his first daughter is born can testify what a real joy a little girl can be in a household. Dinahís brothers also loved her very much-even too much, as later developments proved (Chapter 34).
30:22 GOD REMEMBERED RACHELÖ.AND OPENED HER WOMB
Finally, after many years, the Lord answered Rachelís prayers, and she also conceived. This was not due to the mandrakes, of course, which had in any case been eaten several years previously, but due to the power of God. The name she chose for her son when he was born, Joseph, can be derived both from "Taken Away" and "May He Add," thus indicating both her thanksgiving and her faith that God would give her yet another son.
Benjamin, the youngest, was born later (Gen 35:16-20)
SPOTTED AND SPECKLED
By this time, Jacob had more than fulfilled his contract with Laban. He had agreed to serve with him seven more years, and more than that period of time must have elapsed by the time his four wives had borne him eleven or twelve children. He was with Laban a total of twenty years altogether (Genesis 31:38), including the fourteen years he had served for Leah and Rachel. Since the first seven years had been prior to his two marriages, all of his eleven sons and one daughter must have been born during thirteen-year period at most. It is possible that Leah was pregnant with Judah and Bilhah with Dan at the same time, Bilhah with Naphtali and Zilpah with Gad at the same time, and Leah with Zebulun and Rachel with Joseph at the same time. Dinah may have been born after Joseph. If so, the entire sequence of sons from Reuben to Joseph could possibly have been born with a period of eight or nine years. In any case, by the time Joseph was born, all of Jacobís obligations to Laban were more than settled.
30:26 GIVE MY WIVES AND MY CHILDREN
In spite of Jacobís completed years of service the wives and children were in the legal power of Laban, who could refuse to hand them over to Jacob; See Genesis 31:43. Jacob now had a large family, and his work had been highly productive on Labanís behalf, but he still had nothing of his own. He was also anxious to go home again, although he had apparently heard nothing from his family. Increasingly, therefore, he became restless and dissatisfied with his current situation.
Laban, however, was very reluctant to see him go. He had prospered greatly because of Jacobís abilities and faithfulness, and he was willing to make almost any bargain that would keep him working for him. Laban even acknowledged that the Lord was with Jacob, and that it was of the Lord that he had profited so much through Jacob. Once before, he had gotten the better bargain by letting Jacob name his own wages; so now he made the same proposition again. Labanís offer seemed generous, but later developments showed he did not actually intend to let Jacob leave with anything.
30:31 THOU SHALT NOT GIVE ME ANY THING
Jacob did not wish Laban to "give" him anything. He had learned that God would supply what He wanted him to have, and he did not wish to be indebted in any way to a man whom he had come to know as a self-seeking, deceptive, ungodly schemer. He therefore made a proposition to Laban which would give God the opportunity to bless Jacob materially also, as He had Laban through Jacob. This plan would bring blessing to Jacob without taking anything belonging to Laban. He agreed to shepherd and supervise Labanís flocks, exactly as he had been doing, and his pay would consist of those animals yet unborn that would be less desirable to Laban because of their markings. It would thus be entirely up to God as to how many animals would become Jacobís.
30:32 ALL THE SPECKLED AND SPOTTED CATTLE AND ETC
Jacob agreed that none of the solid-color animals would be taken into his won flocks. If any should be found by Laban in Jacobís flocks, Laban would have the right to take them out. The dominant color traits in Labanís flocks and herds were evidently white among the sheep, black among the goats, and brown among the cattle.
30:35 INTO THE HAND OF HIS SONS.
However, Jacob further proposed that, not only would none of these living speckled animals be taken by him, but they would not even be used for breeding purposes. Only such spotted and speckled animals as would be born in the future from the normal-colored animals would become his. This arrangement clearly was highly favorable to Laban and of very doubtful value to Jacob. Indeed, it was an act of pure faith on his part. He had put himself entirely at Godís mercy.
Laban, who was willing to make a far more generous outlay than this to keep Jacob, immediately jumped at the chance to seal such a bargain. He would lose nothing that now belonged to him, and it appeared very unlikely that Jacob would acquire any future animals by this process either. He had no breeding stock of his own, and none of the animals from which his pay was to come would be likely to produce spotted and speckled progeny of their own without a spotted and speckled population with which to interbreed.
30:36 HE SET THREE DAYSí JOURNEY
The deal was so unbelievably good from Labanís point of view that he felt there must be some catch to it. With some such thoughts as these in his mind, Laban decided not to trust Jacob to keep the two sets of flocks separate. Then, to make it quite impossible in the future for there to be any mixing, he gave the speckled flock into the hands of his sons, and told them always to keep them at least three days journey away from the main body of animals which would be tended by Jacob.
30:37-39 AND JACOB TOOK HIM RODS OF GREEN POPLAR, HAZEL AND CHESTNUT
Jacob knew a great deal about sheep and goats and cattle, however-much more than Laban. He had kept his fatherís flocks for decades, and now had been in charge of Labanís for over fourteen years. As a very observant and intelligent man he had apparently learned something of what we now call Mendelian genetics, simply by long-continued observation of generation after generation of these animals. He knew that, even though a species of animal may have certain "dominant" traits (such as the white color in this type of sheep), there are, in each generation, certain individual animals that manifest one or more "recessive" traits (such as the brown color among the sheep). He believed that he could simply trust God to increase the statistical proportion of animals in future generations of Labanís flocks that would appear with these recessive traits. He knew, furthermore that if he would then use these for future breeding in the flock, this would increase their numbers still more. So by selective breeding he could eventually develop a flock of predominantly spotted and speckled animals.
30:37 STREAKS (Plan number one)
Jacob devises three plans for the purpose of frustrating Laban. He placed streaked rods over against the ewes. The sight of these rods would affect the coloring of the young about to be born. He did not resort to this device the first year, and thereafter only in connection with his own flock; otherwise it would have been flagrant dishonesty.
30:38 THEY SHOULD CONCEIVE WHEN THEY CAME TO DRINK
The mere sight of the striped rods may have served simply as an aphrodisiac to the cattle when they came to drink. This in fact seems indicated by verse 38, in which the word translated "conceive" is yacham, meaning "to be hot." The sight of these rods seems to stimulate these animals to sexual activity.
30:40 SEPARATE THE LAMBS (Plan number two)
The second plan was, Jacob separates the newly-born spotted lambs and kids from the rest of the flock, but so arranges them that there should be a further tendency to bear spotted young.
30:41 STRONGER CATTLE (Plan number three)
The third plan was what He devises to secure for his own share the young of the strongest animals.
30:43 THE MAN INCREASED EXCEEDINGLY
It was not until later that Jacob came to understand the providential intervention that caused the unusual percentage of streaked and spotted animals to be born (Genesis 32:10). In the meantime, within the space of only a few years-perhaps four or five-Jacobís flock had grown so large, and he had prospered from it so greatly, that he had to employ many servants, both male and female, and had purchased many camels and asses. He had quickly become a very prosperous rancher. He had done so, not by any dishonest manipulation of his own, but by means of sound practices of animal breeding which, by all normal standards, should have been of even greater benefit to Laban than to himself. The God of his fathers, however, had intervened in a marvelous and mysterious way.
31:1 JACOB HATH TAKEN AWAY ALL THAT WAS OUR FATHERíS
By this time, Laban and his sons were becoming greatly concerned. What had seemed like an extremely good contract at the time they made it had taken a most surprising and distressing turn. Jacob had kept his part of the bargain faithfully, but somehow his flock was prospering and theirs was suffering. Laban now would have been glad for Jacob to leave, but how could be annul his agreement with Jacob? Also (most importantly), how could he prevent his taking the flocks he had acquired? These were developments he had not foreseen.
31:4 RACHEL AND LEAH
Another instance of the dignified position of woman in ancient Israel. The Patriarchs do nothing without consulting their wives, whom they regard as their equals. Jacob told them their father no longer felt toward him as he formerly did, because of his increasing prosperity. He recounted numerous instances when Laban had deceived him and when he had changed his wages for no reason except to hinder Jacobís increase in wealth. (Evidently Laban had frequently altered his original agreement with Jacob).
31:13 ARISE, GET THEE OUT FROM THIS LAND, AND RETURN
God also revealed in the dream, through His angel, that the reason He had done this was His awareness of what Laban was attempting to do to Jacob. He reminded Jacob that He had spoken to him at Bethel, twenty years before. In the vow, made at that time, when he had set up and anointed a pillar in commemoration of Godís promise, Jacob had contemplated someday returning to his fatherís house in peace. Now the time had come, and God told him to be on his way, returning to his homeland. God had certainly taken care of him in the past, prospering him in a marvelous way, despite many obstacles, just as He had promised.
HEADING FOR HOME Genesis 31:17-55
Jacob, after his heartfelt rehearsal of the situation to his wives, was relieved to hear them both assure him they would gladly go with him. They knew their life was with Jacob. Their father no longer was concerned about their future; whatever inheritance they might once have had would not now go to them but to their brothers. They both loved him, and they realized it was to their own best interests, as well as those of their children, for them all to leave their fatherís home and go with Jacob to his own land.
Rachel, before leaving, and quite unknown to Jacob, had slipped into Labanís tent and stolen his "images" Images kept in the house, perhaps corresponding to the Roman Penates, to bring protection and good fortune. Laban calls them Ďmy godsí (v. 30). I want to give you two possible reasons why?
31:20 JACOB STOLE AWAY UNAWARES TO LABAN THE SYRIAN
Jacob then left before Laban knew anything about his plan. He and his party forded the River Euphrates (the river is sufficiently shallow at certain points near its source for this) and headed for Mount Gilead, far to the southwest. Mount Gilead is actually a mountainous region east of the Jordan River. Its northern edges are nearly three hundred miles from Haran; so a long journey stretched ahead of them. It is possible, of course, that Jacob had already worked his flocks around to the south as far as possible so as to have the advantage of a head start when he was ready to leave. If the three-daysí journey which typically separated him from Labanís flocks were pointed in such a way as to place Jacobís flocks a three-daysí journey southwest of Labanís home (the sheep-shearing would probably have taken place not too far from there), then Jacob and his flocks would have already been about eighty or ninety miles on their way when their flight began in earnest. A dayís journey was usually reckoned at about thirty miles, for men traveling unencumbered. However, once they began moving the flocks along, they would be able to make only fifteen or twenty miles a day. Thus, once they started driving the cattle, it would take them probably ten days or so to reach the Mount Gilead region.
31:24 EITHER GOOD OR BAD
In other word, anything, as in Gen. 24:50. The phrase is the same Hebrew phrase and idiom as in Gen. 2:17;3:5 and 3:22, where it means, Ďall things.í Here it is in negative forms and means, Ďnot anything.í Laban was neither to entice him or give any offers of kindness, nor force him to return by threats (they covered the entire three hundred miles in only seven days, an indication of the fast, hard traveling they did)
God made it plain to him that Jacob was under His protection and was following His directions. Though Laban did not know the Lord in any personal way, he did know enough about Him to know he had better do what He said.
31:30 WHEREFORE HAST THOU STOLEN
As far as Labanís images were concerned, Jacob knew nothing of them, and was angry at the very thought. If, by chance, someone in his employ (he certainly had no reason to suspect anyone in his own family, least of all Rachel, his beloved wife) had taken them, thus embarrassing him and giving Laban an excuse for chasing him, Laban could feel free to take him and exact whatever penalty the law of the times would warrant (the laws of Khammurabi [see Laws Before Sinai page 3 of introduction to this study] , for instance, cite the theft of temple gods as a capital crime = death #4). Furthermore, if Laban found anything that really belonged to him (Jacob had been most scrupulous on this point, as he gathered up his belongings for the flight), he was welcome to take it back.
31:36 AND JACOB WAS WROTH, AND CHIDED WITH LABAN
He had waited so long to express his resentment at Labanís treatment, and now he had to get it completely off his chest. He reminded Laban of his faithful service for twenty years, fourteen of which had been simply for the privilege of marrying his daughters. He did not mention Labanís deception (probably for Leahís sake), which had doubled the length of service in return for a wife he didnít want in the first place. Because of Jacobís faithful attention to the cattle when they were young, none had ever been lost by miscarriage-a frequent occurrence under less careful shepherds. Jacob had never even used any of Labanís animals for his own food while caring for them, although this was considered the right of every shepherd.
Furthermore, in a day when wild animals were a real danger to the flocks, Jacob had himself borne the cost of any losses due to this cause. It was customary that, when a shepherd brought a torn animal to his master, this was regarded as evidence that he had defended the sheep and had driven the beast away, that he had done all he could to save it; under these circumstances, the master bore the loss, rather than the shepherd. Jacob, however, had borne all the losses himself, evidently by replacing lost animals from Labanís flocks with animals from his own flocks.
He had given faithful service in the highest degree, through intense heat and intense cold, often spending sleepless nights in caring for the flocks. With all of this, Laban had no less than ten times changed his agreement with Jacob as to his payment, each time trying to prevent Jacob from prospering and trying to secure all the gains for himself. And finally, Laban was fully intending to send Jacob away completely empty handed-if indeed he would even spare his life.
Jacob concluded with a testimony that God had been with him, and that He had seen his diligent labor as well as the unscrupulous way in which Laban had dealt with him. Jacobís increasing prosperity had been due to the Lordís blessings, and now God had confirmed all this by His sharp rebuke to Laban the night before. Jacob pointed out that the God who had protected and intervened for him was the God who had led Abraham away from Haran in the first place and (lest Laban should suggest that he also served the God of Abraham) was the God whom Isaac (who had never set foot in Haran) had served with reverential fear.
31:43 ALL THAT THOU SEEST IS MINE
He tried to divert attention from Jacobís embarrassing facts by changing the subject. How could Jacob suppose that he would do anything to hurt his daughters or his grandchildren? Further, all of Jacobís cattle had come from Labanís flocks; so why wasnít Jacob grateful that he had made a way for Jacob to acquire them?
He therefore proposed a formal covenant between himself and Jacob. Though Laban had proposed the covenant, Jacob knew such a covenant should be commemorated by a pillar. The pillar was called by Laban Jegar-Sahadutha (the heap of witness, in Aramaic) but Jacob called it Galeed (the heap of witness, in Hebrew), the language which had been used by Abraham and Isaac, and perhaps by the patriarchal line back at least to the time of Eber (genesis 10:25), whose name it commemorated.
Meaning "watch tower", denoting it as a sort of sentry guarding the boundary between Labanís sphere of activities and Jacobís sheer of activities. Laban even invoked the name of Jacobís God, saying, " May Jehovah watch between me and you, when we cannot see each other." He implied that Jacob was the one who needed watching, and this was Jehovahís responsibility. Labanís own "god" would not need to do anything, since Laban was a man of his word! Laban even took the credit for building the pillar and the heap (verse 51), though it had been done at Jacobís initiative and by his labor.
31:50 IF THOU SHALT
Laban, continuing this diversionary tactic, took the initiative in proposing the terms of the covenant after the pillar was erected. Implying that Jacob was the one not to be trusted, he demanded certain restrictions on his activities. In return, Laban would promise not to come any farther into Canaan to hurt Jacob (he do doubt would have, if he could, but knew God would not allow it; so he might as well appear noble by promising this restraint).
31:53 THE GOD OF
Laban concluded his wordy proposal by invoking the names of "the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father." The word used here, of course, is "Elohim," which is basically a plural noun and can be used, when justified in the context, to mean "gods." This was most probably Labanís intent. The "God of Nahor" was probably Labanís idol. The term "God of their father" probably referred to both "gods," or else perhaps was an attempt to try to identify Labanís "god" with the true God of Abraham.
Jacob, rather than trying to clear up Labanís theological confusion, simply made his own oath in the name of the God who had been the "Fear of his father Isaac."