Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 31

Genesis 31 has a lot to ponder, but these points are spread out, as such let me abridge the story for you and then we can dive into some details.

Jacob hears that the sons of Laban, as well as Laban, are upset with him for stealing their fathers wealth. This is largely  due to the magic that Jacob has performed regarding breeding by circumventing basic genetic laws. As such Jacob decides it is time to leave and so he gathers his wives, flocks and slaves and decides to run away. Jacob also tells his wives why they need to run, as God has told him that Laban wishes to cheat him once again. Once Jacob and his group have left, it takes Laban and the others three days to figure that they have runaway! Three days, for a person to realize a whole group of people and part of his flock are missing, really? Anyway Laban is furious that Jacob just upped and left, so he and his relatives decide to chase the man and his daughters down.

Before Laban meets Jacob, Jehovah comes to him in a  dream and warns Laban not to harm Jacob. As such Laban is wary of Jacob, but berates him for stealing his daughters and not giving him a chance to say goodbye. Needless to say Laban also accuses Jacob, rightfully so, of stealing his house idols. However, after searching for the idols Laban cannot find them, as the thief Rachel was sitting on top of them. After the fruitless search Jacob loses his cool, and tells Laban that he is dishonoring him and this is unacceptable. Eventually Jacob and Laban kiss and make up and they construct a pillar which both promise never to cross to cause harm to one another. After this Jacob makes an offering to Jehovah and then the next morning Laban leaves early after saying goodbye to his daughters. In a nutshell, that was Genesis 31.


The first thing that springs to mind in this story, is why is Laban such a deceitful person. After all this is his mothers tribe, and these are meant to be honest noble people. But really, as previous chapters have shown, Laban and his family are anything but good people. These are people who sells their daughters into sex slavery, daughters who give their slaves as sex slaves, people who change rules, or break contracts, to get the most out of any deal. In fact Jehovah even warned Jacob about Laban! I mean when the god of everything takes time out to warn you about someone, then that person must be trash.
"And he continued, ‘Raise your eyes, please, and see that all the he-goats mating with the flock are striped, speckled, and spotty, for I have seen all that Laʹban is doing to you."

The next thing that astounds me, is that this family should be faithful to Jehovah. We can gather this from the way they accepted Jacob into their house talking about the one true god, but also surely it was required by Isaac and Rebekah. But, if this is the case then why did this family have house gods? We know they had house gods, as this is what Rachel stole from her fathers house.
"Now Laʹban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole the teraphim statue that belonged to her father."
Additionally, this stealing raises the question about the monotheistic desires of Jehovah. After all if Jehovah truly wants his offspring to be pure and righteous to him only, why would he allow Jacob to marry someone who clearly respects other gods? Add to this the fact that Jehovah does not allow the statues to be found when Laban is searching Jacobs possessions.

Another thing that blows my mind, was Laban accusing Jacob of stealing his daughters.
"But you did not give me a chance to kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly. It is in my power to do harm to you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful about what you say to Jacob, either good or bad."
Remember this is the same father that sold both his daughters into sex slavery, so this comment just leaves me floored. I can only assume that it is included to show that Laban really is a deceitful man.

There really is a lot to take away from Genesis 31. We learn more about Jehovah's nature in so much that he allows stealing, while also protecting his special ones even if they are the ones doing the stealing. However, if this is true again we have to wonder why Isaac and Rebekah, who are Jehovah's people, would send there son into the den of thieves. Perhaps, just perhaps, these really are only stories and not a special one true gods message?

I hope this telling of Genesis 31, was more palatable than the long winded Biblical account.

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website