Genesis 31 and 32
My Personal Notes:
Laban’s sons show that they are jealous of Jacob’s success. This puts Jacob in a precarious position.
The blessing and the birthright have put him in danger- perhaps more danger than that which he would have been if he would have stayed home. Esau was one man, but laban has many.
Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes. Laban used to think he could get something from Jacob, but now he has become convinced that he is the one who has been taken advantage of… and he is right. But Laban still has the upper hand because Jacob is still a foreigner and surrounded by in laws.
Despite Laban’s trickery, God continues to bless Jacob. The fact that Jacob noticed the change in attitude is a sign of God’s favor.
Even though it was Jacob’s cunning that resulted in his strong flock, Jacob attributes his success to God’s hand of providence. 31:9 This is worth meditating on. What is God’s opinion of this?
God suggests leaving Laban and returning home 31:10-13 but Jacob determines how he will leave (the manor in which he will leave). Jacob knows that he is between a rock and a hard place. There is always a right way to come and a right way to go.
It might have been better for Jacob had he left it all (possessions) and returned home empty handed, but instead he schemes to take it all with him in order to bribe his brother.
Rachel and Leah exhibit a “serves him right” attitude concerning their father. They seek revenge- Rachel steals Laban’s household Gods— Why? Rachel sits on them (claiming to be having her period) while Laban searches. This portion of the story makes Laban look like a fool and show that his gods (clay idols) are powerless and unclean. Rachel shows no respect for Laban, her father, or his gods. The decision to go with Jacob is not a financial one for Rachel and Leah. These ladies do not like their father and see him as an unsafe person. So unsafe that they are willing to risk death to leave him. They may know more about Laban’s character than even Jacob does.
God warns Laban in a dream to watch himself- this is a threat. (similar to Cain’s warning)
Jacob has it out with Laban concerning Laben’s trickery. Laban is forced to speak plainly… he says “All of this is mine”!! Laben reveals himself to be nothing more than a power hungry tyrant. 32:43
The mound is called witness- which means truth- but two languages are used to name the mound. Hebrew for Jacob and Aramaic for Laban. Aramaic and Hebrew are similar but different. The mound is a reminder of their agreement to separate, but also a reminder that each sees things differently. This foreshadows future events and relationships.
Laban says good bye and gives a blessing… sounds good but in the end Laban is poison for Jacob and his children. He would “own” them.
God’s angels meet Jacob on the way into his home land. HE SEES THE ANGELS GREET HIM- and they camp with him so he calls the place “two camps”. Still Jacob sees himself as unworthy of God’s presence. Separation. When will God dwell WITH us? (hint: Emmanuel)
Two camps becomes a viable strategy for meeting Esau- his brother who said that he would kill him.
Esau comes with 400 men… why so many and for what?
Jacob reminds God of His promises toward him and his descendants. Interestingly, until now Jacob was all about independence and doing it all himself. Now his only hope is in God.
Jacob wrestles with God- He will not let go unless he gets a blessing because he now has no where else to turn.
He exclaims that he has seen the face of God. His name is changed- to Israel= One who wrestled with God.
Genesis 31 and 32
1. How has Laban’s attitude changed? Was Laban’s attitude before chapter 31 and what caused it to change?
2. What is Jacobs reaction to the understanding that Laban’s attitude has changed?
3. What does Jacob do and why?
4. What does God say and do for Jacob?
5. How do Rachel and Leah respond to Jacob?
6. How do Jacob and Laban interact? What is their preferred method of dealing with each other and why?
7. Laban reveals his true character in 31:43. What is it?
8. How does God respond to Jacob’s escape from Laban?
9. Jacob changes in chapter 32. How does Jacob change and why?
1.) Have you ever had someone change their attitude toward you like Laban changed his attitude toward Jacob? What was that like? Why did it happen? What was your response?
2.) Have you ever had to make a difficult decision that would change the course of your entire life? What was it and how did you come to the decision you made? What was God’s response to your choice?
3.) When we face difficult situations, one of two things will happen: the situation will change or we will change. Have you experienced a change in situation? Describe what that was like. Have you experienced a personal change because of a situation? Describe what that was like.
4.) On the other side of a difficult situation there is often another hill to climb- just like what Jacob experienced. But God met him before he met Esau. Describe a time when God met you and how that encouraged you to meet what was to come.
5.) If God decided to change your name (like Jacob became Israel) what might He decide to name you and why? How would a name change help you?