Notes: Genesis 31

Trinity International Baptist Church of Athens, Greece

English language Bible study guide for February 6, 2008


Genesis 31: Jacob and his family leave the house of Laban

I.  Jacob discusses leaving with his wives (1-16:)

3: It is the Lord who tells Jacob that it’s time to leave

4-13: Jacob tells Rachel and Leah what’s on his mind

5: His relationship with Laban is not what it used to be

6: He has served Laban faithfully

7: He has had his wages changed ten times

7, 9, 11, 13: God has protected, provided and prophesied to him

13: God remembers Jacob’s vow

14-16: Rachel and Leah bemoan the fact that their father has treated them like slaves

16: The wives agree that Jacob should do what God has told him to do


II. Jacob leaves, and Laban catches up a week later (17-24:)

17-20: Jacob leaves with his wives and children, his servants and his flocks–without telling Laban

19: Rachel steal’s her father’s images. More on this later

22. Jacob had a three-day lead, and Laban caught up with him after seven days’ journey

24: God strictly warned Laban not to badger Jacob


III. Jacob is accuses of having stolen Laban’s idols (25-35:)

26: Laban requires an explanation for Jacob’s sudden departure

27: He suggests that there should have been a grand farewell party first

28: He regrets not having kissed his family before their departure

29: Laban boasts of his power to hurt Jacob, but concedes that God forbids it

30: He understands that Jacob might be homesick; but Laban wonders why Jacob would steal Laban’s gods (cp. "images" of verse 19).

31: Jacob says he was afraid of what Laban might have done to prevent his family from traveling with Jacob

32: And, denying any knowledge of the missing idols, Jacob allows Laban to search the camp

34-35: Rachel claims to be unable to get up from her seat (over the idols) when Laban walks in, and thus successfully keeps the idols hidden


IV. Jacob defends himself against Laban’s accusations (36-42:)

36: When Laban cannot find the missing teraphim (idols, images), Jacob lashes out at such offensive false accusations

38: Jacob was supposed to visit Laban only a brief time, until Esau calmed down; but instead, Jacob stayed with Laban for 20 years.

42: Even now, Jacob says, if God were not on his side Laban would be stealing from him.


V. Jacob covenants with Laban never to harm him (43-55:)

44: A formal covenant of peace is made between Jacob and Laban

49: The Mizpah blessing. But was it that?


Meditation Points:

  1. Jacob stuck at his job for 20 years; and God miraculously provided for his retirement.
  2. Rachel and Leah felt that their father "sold" them.  That is what happened, isn’t it?
  3. Jacob had vowed to serve God if God would protect him all the time in the foreign land; and now God is calling Jacob to be true to his word.
  4. Good advice: do whatever God says to do.
  5. Leaving without saying goodbye.
  6. God stops Laban from hurting Jacob. Can God overrule the so-called free will of sinful man?
  7. Do you see that these household images/idols/gods are VERY important to Laban? And Rachel knew it to be so! Man is so carnal that he thinks God must be carnal, too; and man makes images of God.
  8. Rachel stole and then lied to cover it up. One sin often leads to another.
  9. Setting up markers to remind us of our promises to others.