GENESIS 30:25-31:55



a)  Why did Jacob want to leave Paddan Aram?

He wanted to go back to his own homeland.  He had worked hard for Laban and Laban knew it.  And he wanted to do something for his own household.  During 14 years of hard labor for Laban, Jacob asked for nothing more than the hand of Rachel in marriage.  Now he began to think about how to build up his own house.  Read verses 29-30.

Why did Leah want him to remain?

Laban knew that God had blessed him because Jacob was working for him.

What was Jacob's new direction (25-30)?

To make a new contract with Laban.  Laban didn't want Jacob to leave so he proposed this new contract.  He agreed to pay Jacob wages from then on.  See verses 31-34.

a)  What were the terms of the new contract?

Jacob asked for the inferior animals, those that were speckled, spotted and dark colored as his wages. (32)

How did Laban try to take advantage of Jacob (31-36)?

Laban tricked Jacob.  Before Jacob had a chance to look over the flocks and claim what Laban had promised him, Laban culled the flocks and placed the spotted, speckled and dark colored animals in the care of his sons, and sent them on a three day's journey away.

a)  What did Jacob do to improve the quality of his stock and increase the number of flocks and herds (37-43)?

Jacob was not daunted.  He took care of his uncle's flocks and herds and used all of his wits and skills to increase his own flocks.  He put striped sticks in the water troughs of the strongest and best of the flock at mating time.  He didn't want t breed the weak and small ones for his flocks.  He believed that if the animals saw spots and stripes at that time, it would influence the lambs and kids they bore.  The efficacy of this primitive method of genetic engineering is questionable, but anyway, God blessed Jacob's hard work and he prospered.  God was blessing Jacob greater than he thought.  God did this so that Jacob would see he is with him and that he is keeping his part of the vow.

a)  Look at 31:1-12.  What do Jacob's words to Rachel and Leah tell us about Laban's continued treachery and about how Jacob became wealthy in spite of this?

In spite of Laban's efforts to deceive and cheat him, Jacob's wealth increased.  Laban changed his wages ten times.  When the flocks began to bear speckled young, Laban said that only the streaked young could be Jacob's.  When they bore streaked young, then Laban changed his mind and said that the speckled ones belong to Jacob.  But Jacob's flocks increased anyway.

What can we learn here about Jacob?

Jacob began to acknowledge God's hand to help him and he is also experiencing what the struggle with men leads to.  Jacob became wealthy because God was with him 94).  After hard work and struggle Jacob is beginning to learn God.  Through hardships God may help us to see God's love and his patience.

a)  Look at 31:38-42.  What do Jacob's words to Laban tell us about his life as a servant in Laban's house?

Jacob's life as a servant in Laban's house: hardworking, enduring Laban's changeable wages.  Hard work for 20 years.  Only Jacob could survive under such a man.

What does this life tell us about the man Jacob?

Jacob was a hard worker and a faithful shepherd.  He cared for the flocks day and night, cold weather or blazing sun.  The sheep and the goats did not miscarry, but bore healthy young.  He spent many sleepless nights watching over the flock.  Jacob took personal responsibility for the animals that were killed or injured by wild beasts.  He knew that his success was due primarily to God's blessing.  See verse 42.

** JACOB FLEES FROM PADDAN ARAM (31:1-3; 13-17; 43:-55)

a)  Why did Jacob decide to leave Paddan Aram? (31:1-3; 13-16)

He noticed that Laban's attitude towards him was not what it had been and the Lord told him, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you."  God reminded him in a dream that he was the God of Bethel where he had anointed a pillar and made a vow.  Now go back to your naïve land at once God told him.

What was the importance of his vow at Bethel in his life?

It was the handle in which God could take hold of his life and use him and grow him in faith.

Why was it necessary that he return?

He must keep his part of the vow.  He must return to the land of God's covenant promise.  Recall 28:20-22.  God had been with Jacob in Paddan Aram and had protected him from his uncle.  He had blessed him.  Now it was time for him to return and keep his vow.  Jacob was a faithful man; faithful to human commitments and to God.  He would keep his vow.  God accepted Jacob's vow and through it had attached a long rope to Jacob.  Jacob wandered far away, but never severed connection with God.  Now God is pulling him back to God and t the promised land.

a)  How did Jacob attempt to deceive Laban?

Jacob did not tell Laban that he was leaving.  When Laban went to shear his sheep, Jacob made his "get-away."  See verse 20.

Why did he flee in this way?

Still he was afraid of Laban and didn't trust him.  He knew that Laban would do everything possible to prevent his leaving.  So he waited until Laban was out of town and one day seized the opportunity and fled with his wives and children and all  his possessions.  He crossed the river and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

Why did Rachel steal her father's gods?

She was attached to them and had not given them up.  She was not a spiritual woman.

What does this show about that household?  About Rachel?

Rachel hadn't changed.  The family wasn't too spiritual and it became a burden to Jacob.

a)  When Laban caught up with Jacob, why did he not harm himi?

God had come to Laban in a dream at night and said to him, "Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad."  31:24,27.

How did he rebuke him?

See verses 26-28 and verse 30.  Laban said to Jacob, "…. You have deceived me.. why did you run of secretly and deceive me?"

Of what did he accuse Jacob?

Of deceiving him and running away from him without giving him a chance to say good-bye to his children and grandchildren.

How did Jacob explain his sudden departure?

He was afraid.  See 31:31.

What can you learn here about God's faithfulness?

God had been with Jacob all this time and protected Jacob from Laban's revenge.  Jacob's grabbing in his life brought fear.  31:31.  His whole life he is taking, not giving.  Human struggle always brings dispute or struggle.

a)  When Laban's search for the gods proved fruitless, how did Jacob rebuke him? (36-37, (38-42))

Jacob was very angry for being falsely accused.  He reminded Laban of how hard he worked and struggled for him for over 20 years.  Struggling with men brings forth enemies and conflict.  Jacob was tired and weary of his struggle with Laban.  This is the symbol of a cursed or fallen man without God's blessings.  The world is a hard struggle to survive without God.  It is endless.

a)  Describe the treaty in which they made at their parting.  Why would it be difficult for Jacob ever to return to Paddan Aram?

Read 31:44-55.  Because of this treaty, it would be hard for Jacob to return.  Both men did not trust each other.

What do these events reveal about Jacob's character?  Think about his strengths and weaknesses?

He was diligent and hardworking.  He defeated the crafty and deceitful Laban by hardworking and by depending on God.  But his weaknesses were that he was deceitful, not trusting God, possessive and fearful.  He was sneaky, a kind of person, who makes others very angry.

What do these events teach us about God?

God was Jacob's shepherd.  Jacob still had an important lesson to learn.  Human glory and honor and love and wealth can't satisfy one's soul.  Jacob had to meet God personally.  He needed  a spiritual blessing.  God had been patient up until this time to let Jacob become tired of the world.  God wanted him to learn how to depend on God and God's presence and not human cleverness or even his human faithfulness.  Recall 28:10-22, especially 28:13-15.  Jacob responded by making a vow to God's promises.  God had indeed been with him and had protected him.  Jacob couldn't settle in Paddan Abram.  It was time to continue his pilgrimage home.  Life is a pilgrimage.  See John 14:2.  God who was with Jacob will be with us who are faithful.  See 2Samuel 22:26. He helps us to keep our vows.

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