Genesis 31


The LORD promises to be with us


1 Jacob heard the words of Laban's sons saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father's; and he has made all this wealth from what belonged to our father. 2 And Jacob looked and saw that the attitude of Laban was not toward him like before. 3 And the LORD said to Jacob, Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives; and I will be with you.


  • Laban was the thief. He’d become wealthy by Jacob’s tending his herds. But that wasn’t enough for him. He changed Jacob’s wages ten times (Genesis 31:7).
  • God blessed Jacob in spite of this. In Genesis 28:15 God had promised to be with Jacob when he left home and went to Padan Aram. Now He promised to be with him as he returns home.
  • Hebrews 13:5 Let your way of life be without covetousness; and be content with what you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.


4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, 5 And said to them, I see your father's attitude is not toward me like before; but the God of my father has been with me. 6 And you know that with all my strength I have served your father. 7 And your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8 If he said this, The speckled will be your wages; then all the livestock bore speckled: and if he said this, The striped will be your wages; then all the flock bore striped. 9 Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me.


  • God is ruling over all. God has plenty for all. Jacob received back on himself what he had done to his father and brother through Laban.
  • God used it to teach him honesty (Genesis 27).
  • The Lord was dealing with them all for His greater purpose.
  • When we cheat others, we are really cheating ourselves.
  • Matthew 7:12… whatever you would have men do to you, you do that to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
  • Isaiah 3:10, 11 Say to the righteous that it will be well with him: for they will eat the fruit of their doings. 11 Woe to the wicked! It will be bad for him: for the reward of his hands will be given him.


10 And it happened at the time that the flocks mated, that I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream and behold, the rams that leaped on the flocks were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled. 11 And the angel of God spoke to me in a dream saying, Jacob: And I said, Here I am. 12 And he said, Lift up your eyes, and see all the rams that leap on the flocks are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban does to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel where you anointed the pillar, and where you vowed a vow to me: Get up now, get out of this land, and return to the land of your birth.


  • The Angel of God in the Old Testament was usually Jesus Christ. Verse 13 identifies him here. God sees all that others do to us.
  • Laban’s sons blamed Jacob but verse 12 shows that it was God who did it because Laban was cheating Jacob.
  • God wants Laban to quit cheating also.
  • Jeremiah 2:19 says God lets our own sins correct us. He does this be letting what we do to others happen back to us.

14 And Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father's house? 15 Does he not count us as strangers? He sold us and spent all our money. 16 For all the riches that God has taken from our father, that is ours and our children's: now then, do whatever God has said to you. 17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives on camels; 18 And he drove away all his flocks and all his goods that he had gained, the livestock of his property that he had acquired in Padan-aram, to go to Isaac, his father, in the land of Canaan.


  • Rachel and Leah’s father had sold them to Jacob twenty years earlier.
  • He spent all the money gained through Jacob’s fourteen years work to purchase them.
  • Twenty miles a day was the pace of a caravan.


19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. 20 And Jacob deceived the heart of Laban the Syrian by not telling him that he was about to flee. 21 So he fled with all that he had; and rose up, crossed the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead. 22 And on the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 And he took his brothers with him, and chased after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in mountains of Gilead.


  • In Genesis 30:25 Jacob tried to leave Laban in a reasonable manner. It didn’t work. He ended up staying under Laban six more years. The images Rachel stole were the false gods that Laban trusted.
  • Psalm 96:5 all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.

God protected Jacob by warning Laban


24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night and said to him, Watch out for yourself that you do not speak to Jacob good or bad. 25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountain: and Laban pitched with his brothers in mount Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, What have you done deceiving my heart and carrying away my daughters like captives taken with the sword? 27 Why did you secretly run away, and deceived me and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with tambourine, and with harp? 28 And you have not allowed me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have been foolish to do this. 29 It is in the my power to do you harm: but the God of your father spoke to me last night saying, Watch out that you do not speak to Jacob from good or bad. 30 Now surely you have left because you greatly longed after your father's house; why have you stolen my gods?


  • Think about this statement. If they were truly gods could they be stolen? Only something that can’t do anything for itself can be stolen.
  • God protected Jacob by warning Laban.
  • Psalm 105:15 He allowed no man to do them wrong, He reproved kings for their sake saying, Do not touch my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
  • Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 With whoever you find your gods, let him not live: search for what is yours before us all and take it. For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the two maidservants' tents; but he did not find them. Then went he out of Leah's tent and entered Rachel's tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the images and put them in the camel's furniture and sat on them. And Laban searched/felt all the tent and did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, Do not let it displease my lord that I cannot rise up before you; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but did not find the images.


  • Laban never knew what happened to his idols. That is fitting. They were false gods. They are destructive to life. They daily rob people of the infinite wealth of blessings from the true and living God. They rob of eternal life.
  • Laban had encountered the true and living God the night God spoke to him.


36 So Jacob was filled with anger and rebuked Laban: Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? What is my sin that you have so hotly pursued me? 37 Though you have searched all my things, what have you found of all your household things? Set it here before my brothers and your brothers that they may judge between us both. 38 I have been with you these twenty years; your ewes and she goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock. 39 I did not bring you what was torn by animals; I bore the loss; you required it of me, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 In the daytime the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; my sleep departed from my eyes. 41 I have been like this in your house for twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your livestock: and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had not been with me, surely you would have sent me away now empty handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.


  • God taught Jacob that God was his security not his employer.
  • God saw Jacob’s affliction and rebuked the cause of it.
  • Isaiah 2:4 And he will judge among the nations, and will rebuke many people…


43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children that they have born? 44 So come, let us make a covenant, me and you; and let it be a witness between us. 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up for a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his brothers, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made a heap: and they ate there on the heap. 47 And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and you this day. So the name of it was called Galeed; 49 And Mizpah/watchtower; for he said, The LORD watch between me and you, when we are absent from one another.


  • Both of these words mean ‘heap of the testimony’ or ‘heap of witness.’ Galeed is a Hebrew word. Jegar-sahudutha is a Chaldean word. You can see Laban’s true intent from the anger of this answer. If God had not intervened, Jacob would have been left with nothing, possibly killed.
  • Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.


God watches between us and is witness and judge


50 If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take other wives beside my daughters, although no man is with us; see, God is witness between me and you. 51 And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar which I have cast between me and you; 52 This heap is witness, and this pillar is witness that I will not pass over this heap to you, and that you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to harm me. 53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us. So Jacob took an oath before the Awesome God of his father Isaac. 54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice on the mountain and called his brothers to eat food: and they ate food and stayed all night in the mountain. 55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed and returned to his place.


  • Some future day all things will be judged.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:14For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.
  • John 5:22the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.
  • Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are justice: a God of truth and without evil, just and right is he.


                                            Genesis 32


1 Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, This is God's army: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the field of Edom. 4 And he commanded them saying, This is what you are to say to my lord Esau; Your servant Jacob says this, I have remained with Laban and stayed there until now: 5 I have oxen, asses, flocks, male and female servants: and I have sent to tell my lord so that I may find favor in your sight. 6 And the messengers returned to Jacob saying, We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you with 400 men. 7 Then Jacob became more and more afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that were with him, the flocks, herds, and camels, into two companies; 8 And said, If Esau comes to one company and strikes it, then the other company that is left will escape.


  • Mahanaim’ means double camp. God gave Jacob assurance of His protection before Jacob met his brother (who when last seen planned to kill him).
  • We have found grace in God’s sight through Jesus Christ. God’s army is awesome.
  • 2Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed and said, LORD, Please open his eyes that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.


God has promised to deal well with us


9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD that said to me, Return to your country and to your relatives and I will deal well with you: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth that you have shown to your servant; for I crossed this Jordan with my staff; and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I beg, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him; that he will come and strike me, and the mothers with the children. 12 And you said, I will surely do good to you, and make your seed like the sand of the sea which cannot be numbered for multitude.


  • Over 75 times in scripture we are told not to fear.
  • Jacob’s prayer is a model prayer. First, he remembered God’s promises. Second, he thanked God for personal blessings. Third, he acknowledged his own unworthiness. Fourth, he cast himself on God’s mercy.
  • Isaiah 41:10 Fear not; for I am with you: do not be dismayed for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.


13 And he stayed there that night and took a gift for his brother Esau from what came to his hand, 14 200 she goats and twenty he goats, 200 ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she asses and ten foals. 16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every herd by themselves; and said to his servants, Cross over before me and put a space between the herds. 17 And he commanded the one in front saying, When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, Whose are you? And where are you going? And whose are these before you? 18 Then you will say, They are your servant Jacob's; it is a gift sent to my lord Esau: behold, he is behind us. 19 And he commanded the second, the third, and all that followed the herds saying, This is what will you say to Esau when you find him. 20 And you will say, Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the gift that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.


  • Jacob didn’t need to do this to be protected. God had shown Jacob the army of angels that would protect him.
  • Proverbs 18:16 A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.


21 So the gift went over before him: and he himself spent the night in the camp. 22 And he got up that night and took his two wives, his two women servants, his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the dawn rose. 25 And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched his hip socket; and his hip socket was unhinged as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the dawn has risen. And he said, I will not let you go unless you bless me. 27 And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob/cheater. 28 And he said, Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel/he will rule as God: for as a prince you have power with God for you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed.


  • The word ‘Jabbok’ means wrestler. Verse 30 shows that this was God that wrestled with Jacob.
  • Doesn’t God have to wrestle with us when we resist the good changes He tries to make in our lives?
  • He gave Jacob a new name. Naming is a function of lordship or ownership.
  • Revelation 2:17 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, in the stone a new name written that no man knows except he that receives it.


29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Please tell me your name. And he said, Why do you ask my name? And he blessed him there. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel/the face of God: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 And as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose upon him, and he was limping on his thigh. 32 So to this day the children of Israel do not eat of the sinew of the hip that shrank, which is on the socket of the hip because he touched Jacob’s hip socket on the sinew of the thigh.


  • Seeing God’s true form (Ezekiel 1:26-28) would destroy our frail bodies made from earth dust (Exodus 33:20).
  • Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in its strength.




SUMMARY: Genesis 31-32


  • God guides us and is with us
  • God protected Jacob by warning Laban
  • God watches between us and is witness and judge
  • God's angels met Jacob
  • God has promised to deal well with us