Genesis 31

Often the dodgy behaviour of well known biblical figures is not accompanied by words or signs by God, and it’s fair enough to say it is not a model for our behaviour. 

Today Jacob is being quite sharp and harsh and it is with clear approval by God. 

He notices that his success as a cousin has prompted jealousy from the sons of his father-in-law Laban for whom he has worked over 14 years. God tells him is time to leave, and that he will be with him. But Jacob anticipates Laban won’t want his daughters, grandchildren and flocks gone. So he sneaks away.

Such a pattern with Jacob: promised blessing, he goes about getting it in a sneaky and faithless way.

To be fair on Jacob, Laban has gone cold to him and treated him more and more like an enemy. But to be fair on Laban, Jacob has implemented the rules on which parts of the flock he can keep to blatantly favour himself. Something he ascribes to god’s providence in this chapter.

Laban hears of Jacob’s departure and goes to confront him. He has a dream from God not to harm or do good to Jacob. He has to let him go.

In the end everyone behaves in a nuanced way. The wives have mixed emotions. Laban gets the chance to say a proper goodbye to his kin, and Jacob gets to get on with his life.

Everyone is flawed, but a peaceable arrangement is arrived at. 

The loose end is Rachel, who stole the family God’s and lied about having her period to hide it.

But with that clear exception, you can see God’s intervention here bringing a result of peace and grace. Jacob should have trusted, but who am I to talk, so should I. The goal of achieving god’s ends does not justify the means is they are sneaky and sharp. God promises to be the ends and the means.


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