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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Genesis 31

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that [was] our father’s; and of [that] which [was] our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.

Ver. l. And he heard the words of Laban’s sons.] These were chips off the old block, as they say; as like the father, as if spit out of his mouth. Avarice made them think, as Sejanus did, Quicquid non acquiritur, damnum; { a} all lost, that fell beside their own lips. As a ship may be overladen with gold and silver, even unto sinking, and yet have compass and sides enough to hold ten times more: so, covetous men, though they have enough to sink them, yet have they never enough to satisfy them.

Hath he gotten all this glory.] That is, All this wealth, which easily gets glory; and goes therefore joined with it. [Proverbs 3:16; Proverbs 8:18] This regina pecunia doth all, and hath all here below, saith Solomon. [Ecclesiastes 10:19] Money beareth the mastery, and is the monarch of this world. None so admired, or so soon admitted, as he that is well heeled. The Chaldee word for money, (b) signifies to do some great work. It was commonly said in Greece, that not Philip but his money took their cities. (c) And a certain Grecian coming to Rome, where the honour of a lord was offered unto him, answered -

Oυκ εθελω δομναι, ου θαρ εχω δομεναι.

Allin had a cardinal’s hat there bestowed upon him by the Pope: but because his hat had so thin lining - he wanted wealth, I mean, to support his state - he was commonly called, The starveling cardinal; and nobody cared for him. (d)


Verse 2

Genesis 31:2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it [was] not toward him as before.

Ver. 2. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban.] He said little, for shame, but thought the more, and could not so conceal his discontent, but that it appeared in his lowering looks. That which he had parted with in his riches, was, as it were, raked out of his belly; [Job 20:15] he had as beloved have parted with his very heart blood. And this was plain to Jacob by his countenance, which had been friendly, smooth, and smiling; but now was cloudy, sad, spiteful. The young men were hot, and could not hold or hide what was in their heart, but blurted it out, and spoke their minds freely. This old fox held his tongue, but could not keep his countenance.

“En, quam difficile est animum non prodere vultu.”


Verse 3

Genesis 31:3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Ver. 3. Return unto the land of thy fathers.] Laban’s frowns were a grief to Jacob; the Lord calls upon him therefore to look homeward. Let the world’s affronts, and the change of men’s countenances, drive us to him who changeth not, and mind us of heaven, where is a perpetual serenity and sweetness.


Verse 4

Genesis 31:4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,

Ver. 4. And Jacob sent and called Rachel, &c.] He consults with his wives; so should we in matters of weight, of remove especially. They are our "companions," the wives "of our covenant," [Malachi 2:14] not our vassals or footstools; and must therefore be both of our court and counsel.


Verse 5

Genesis 31:5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it [is] not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.

Ver. 5. I see your father’s countenance, &c.] This is the world’s wages. All Jacob’s good service is now forgotten. Do an unthankful person nineteen kindnesses, unless you add the twentieth, all is lost (a) Perraro grati homines reperiuntur , saith Cicero. (b) Nemo beneficium in Calendarium scribit , saith Seneca. And the poet Ausonius not unfitly -

“Sunt homines humeris quos siquis gestat ad urbem

Ausoniam, domiti quae caput orbis erat:

Nec tamen ad portam placide deponat eosdem,

Gratia praeteriti nulla laboris erit”


Verse 6

Genesis 31:6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.

Ver. 6. With all my power I have served.] The word translated power signifieth that natural moisture of the body that maketh it lively and lusty, vigorous and valorous to do service. So it is used, Genesis 49:3, Psalms 22:15. Now if Jacob served Laban with all his might, should not we the Lord, a far better Master? Baruch "repaired earnestly". [Nehemiah 3:20] Caleb "fulfilled after God". [Numbers 14:24] Nehemiah traded every talent with which divine providence had trusted him: he worketh, warreth, watcheth, commandeth, encourageth, threateneth, punisheth, &c. "David danced with all his might," [2 Samuel 6:14] and did all the wills of God to his dying day; painfully serving out his time to the last. Happy is he that can say, in a spiritual sense, as it was said of Moses, that, after a long profession of religion, he remits not of his zeal; "his sight is not waxed dim, nor his natural" heat or "force abated"; [Deuteronomy 34:7] that he is "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord". [Romans 12:11]


Verse 7

Genesis 31:7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

Ver. 7. Changed my wages ten times.] And ever for the worse. The matter mended, with poor Jacob, as sour ale doth in summer. Laban, the churl, the richer he grew by him, the harder he was to him: like children with mouthfuls and handfuls, who will yet rather spoil all, then part with any. It is the love, not the lack of money, that makes men churls.


Verse 8

Genesis 31:8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.

Ver. 8. Ring-straked.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 30:39"}


Verse 9

Genesis 31:9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given [them] to me.

Ver. 9. Thus God hath taken away, &c.] He is the true proprietary, and gives and takes away these outward things at pleasure; as Hannah hath it. [1 Samuel 2:7] And, "promotion cometh neither from the east nor west," saith David; "nor yet from the south," [Psalms 75:6] where the warm sunshine is: much less from the north (for, Ab Aquilone nihil boni); "but God is the judge; he puts down" Laban "and sets up" Jacob; [Psalms 75:7] he spoiled the Egyptians, and enriched the Israelites with their jewels; [Exodus 12:36] which yet proved a snare to them, perhaps, in the matter of the golden calf; as riches always do, when sent to men by God’s providence only, and not out of his favour, as here to Jacob, and by virtue of the promise.


Verses 10-12

Genesis 31:10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle [were] ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.

Ver. 10-12. I saw in a dream, &c.] Of divine dreams, such as this was, {See Trapp on "Genesis 20:3"}


Verse 11

Genesis 31:11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, [saying], Jacob: And I said, Here [am] I.

Ver. 11. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:10"}


Verse 12

Genesis 31:12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle [are] ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

Ver. 12. I have seen all that Laban doeth.] And am resolved to fleece him for thy hire. Gain ill got will burn men’s fingers, and burn through their purses. Yea, the greater wealth, the greater spoil awaits such misers; as a tree with thick and large boughs, every man desires to lop it. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:10"}


Verse 13

Genesis 31:13 I [am] the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, [and] where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

Ver. 13. I am the God of Bethel, &c.] Here God pulls Jacob by the ear, as it were, and reminds him of his vow which he had well nigh forgotten. But the Lord looked for a performance, and afterward punished him for his slackness. Most men’s practice proclaims, that having escaped the danger, they would willingly deceive the saint. (a) And of those that vow against sin, how many have we, who, when temptations, like strong Philistines, are upon them, break all bonds of God, whereby foul breaches are made into their consciences, such as nothing can cure, but the blood of that great votary, that Nazarite, Christ Jesus. Vows are solemn services; and they have much to answer for that care not either to make or keep them; that dally and play with them, as children do with nuts and beads. When the cardinals meet to choose a pope, they make a vow, Whosoever is chosen, he shall swear to such articles as they make. And Sleidan (b) saith, The pope is no sooner chosen, but he breaks them all, and checks their insolences; as if they went about to limit his power, to whom all power is given, both in heaven and earth. Is not this pretty collusion? But "God is the avenger of all such."


Verse 14

Genesis 31:14 And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, [Is there] yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?

Ver. 14. Is there yet any portion,] q.d., We have all we are like to have. In setting forth their father’s ill usage of them, they offend not in some respect - viz., in that they speak the truth. Only herein they were to blame, that they speak the truth with more passion, and with less respect to their father than was fit.


Verse 15

Genesis 31:15 Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.

Ver. 15. Are we not counted of him strangers?] Well might that father (a) say, Aεινος και παντολμος πης φιλοχρηματιος ερως. "The love of money is the root of all evil," as the apostle hath it. [1 Timothy 6:10] This kyte-footed corruption, wheresoever it seizeth and domineereth, it blasteth and banisheth all nobleness of spirit, natural affection, humanity, reason, discretion, manliness, mutual entertainment, intercourse of kindness and love: so that, for any fair dealing, a man had as good converse with a cannibal, as with a truly covetous captive. Well might the apostle set "covetousness" and "want of natural affection" together, as signs of a reprobate sense. [Romans 1:29; Romans 1:31] Laban sells his own daughters here, and devours also their price. And the covetous Pharisees taught children to starve their parents, to offer to the altar; that is, to their paunches and purses. [Matthew 15:4-6]


Verse 16

Genesis 31:16 For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that [is] ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

Ver. 16. For all the riches, &c.] Here they speak the truth; but offend, (1.) In that they utter it passionately, and with perturbation of spirit; (2.) In that they seem somewhat to obscure God’s blessing; as though it were but their due, as daughters. In dealing with those that have done us wrong, it is hard not to offend, either in the matter or manner of our expressions.

Now then, whatsoever God hath said, &c.] Thus they prefer a husband to a father. So did Michal, though there was no great store of religion in her. And so nature had taught that "daughter of women" to do, Daniel 11:17. Antiochus the Great gave Cleopatra, his daughter, to Ptolemy Epiphanes, thinking to use her as an instrument to destroy him. But she, contrary to his expectation, clave to her husband.


Verse 17

Genesis 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;

Ver. 17. Then Jacob rose up.] Taking his time, when Laban was from home, shearing his sheep.


Verse 18

Genesis 31:18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.

Ver. 18. To go to Isaac.] But was long in going; about ten years.


Verse 19

Genesis 31:19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that [were] her father’s.

Ver. 19. Rachel had stolen the images.] She was somewhat tackt (a) with her father’s superstition, though somewhat reclaimed. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols". [1 John 5:21] Nothing so natural to us as image worship. Nothing so retained by us, when once entertained. After all that airing in the wilderness, Micah’s mother smells of Egypt, and hath her molten and graven gods. [ 17:3] Rachel also had her idols a long time after this. [Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4] The devil is ειδωλοχαρης, saith Synesius; and so he would have us. Fence we therefore ourselves and ours against this abomination: the itch of it, once got, is hardly ever cured and clawed off.


Verse 20

Genesis 31:20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.

Ver. 20. And Jacob stole away.] God’s saints are put upon the use of such means sometimes, for their own safety, as render them contemptible to worldly men; all whose contumelies they can bravely bear, so long as their consciences clear and cheer them: yea, they can rejoice and say, It is a mercy they know no worse by me. It is a great work of nature to keep the filth of the body, when it is in man, from being unsavoury to others. But it is a greater work of God to keep the filth of the soul, that is so unsavoury to him, from the knowledge of those that wait all occasions to blaze and blaspheme us.


Verse 21

Genesis 31:21 So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face [toward] the mount Gilead.

Ver. 21. He passed over the river.] Euphrates; and so declined the ordinary way, that Laban might not overtake him; which yet he did. So God would have it, that he might have the greater glory of Jacob’s deliverance.


Verse 22

Genesis 31:22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.

Ver. 22. That Jacob was fled.] Here was verified that saying of Eliphaz, Job 5:12-13.


Verse 23

Genesis 31:23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.

Ver. 23. And he took his brethren.] The wicked may band themselves, and bend their strength against the saints; but they are bounded by God. He lets them have the ball on their foot many times, till they come to the very goal, and yet then makes them miss the game. He lets out their tether, and then pulls them back again to their task.


Verse 24

Genesis 31:24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

Ver. 24. Take heed thou speak not good or bad.] That is, that thou seek not, either by flattery or force, by allurement or affrightment, to bring him back. They write of the asp, that he never wanders alone, without his companion with him. So the flattering promises of the Church’s adversaries go ever accompanied with cruel menaces, their rising tongues with their terrifying saws. [Hebrews 11:37] "None of them shall want their mate"; as the Scripture speaks of those birds of prey and desolation. [Isaiah 34:16]


Verse 25

Genesis 31:25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.

Ver. 25. Jacob had pitched his tent.] Seeing Laban so near, he set himself in as good order as he could, fearing the worst, saith Musculus. But God was better to him than his fears. He spake for him; and so he can, and doth oft for us, in the hearts of our enemies. See Isaiah 41:9. Charles V - than (a) whom, all Christendom had not a more prudent prince, nor the Church of Christ almost a sorer enemy, - when he had in his hand Luther dead, and Melancthon, Pomeran, and certain other preachers of the gospel alive, he not only determined not anything extremely against them, or violated their graves; but also, entreating them gently, sent them away, not so much as once forbidding them to publish openly the doctrine that they professed.


Verse 26

Genesis 31:26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives [taken] with the sword?

Ver. 26. As captives taken with the sword.] No such matter; but that the old churl must have somewhat to say: for Jacob had their goodwills to go with him: and besides, they were now his more than Laban’s. Jacob had them in marriage, and not in bondage: he carried them not as his captives, but companions.


Verse 27

Genesis 31:27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?

Ver. 27. That I might have sent thee away with mirth.] A likely matter! but it is the hypocrite’s best now, to say the best. He durst do no other; for God had overawed him, and put his hook into his nostrils. Hypocrites are likened to "bulrushes," [Isaiah 58:5] which are green and smooth; and he is curious to a miracle, that can find a knot in them; but within is nothing but a useless and spongy pith. Compared they are also to "vipers," [Matthew 3:7] that are painted, as it were, without, but poisonful within: they have their teeth also buried in their gums, saith Pliny, so that one would think them to be harmless beasts, and that they could not bite. So hypocrites seem most innocent. Who would have thought otherwise of Laban, that had not known him, considering his dispute here with Jacob, his protests, afterwards, of deep and dear love to his daughters, and lastly, his attestation and taking God to witness for their good usage, and his heap of stones to witness (together with his heap of words to small purpose), calling it first Jegar-sahadutha, as a witness betwixt man and man; and then Mizpeh, as a watch-tower or witness between God and man? Who could take Laban for less now, than a loving father, yea, and an honest man? But, as the historian (a) saith of another, so may we of him; Palam compositus pudor, intus summa adipiscendi libido . All this was but blanched hypocrisy, and coloured covetousness, as St Paul calls it. [1 Thessalonians 2:5]

Astutam vapido servat sub pectore vulpem .” - Pers.


Verse 28

Genesis 31:28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in [so] doing.

Ver. 28. Thou hast now done foolishly.] And yet he had done no more than God bade him do. Wretched men dare reprehend that which they do not comprehend. But if a wise man speak evil of thee, or to thee, endure him; if a fool, pardon him. Shake off reproaches and hard censures, as Paul did the viper; yea, in a holy scorn, laugh at them, as the wild ass doth at the horse and his rider. "Diotrephes prates against us," saith St John. [3 John 1:10] In the Greek ( φλυαξει) it is, "trifles against us with malicious words." Although his words were malicious, and he a great man, yet all was but trifles to a clear conscience.


Verse 29

Genesis 31:29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

Ver. 29. It is in the power of my hand.] It was, he might have said, till God forbade him: though indeed it never was (as our Saviour told Pilate, upon a like bravado, John 19:10-11), further than "given him from above." "To God belong the issues of death," [Psalms 68:20] whatever tyrants dream they can do. Rideo, dicebat Caligula, Consulibus, quod uno nutu meo iugulare vos possim, et uxori tam bana cervix, simul ac iussero, demetur . And Caesar told Metellus, that he could as easily take away his life, as bid it to be done. But what saith our Saviour? "Fear not them that kill the body"; [Matthew 10:28] to wit, by divine permission. He saith not, them that can kill the body, have power to do it at their own pleasure: for that is a royalty belongs to God only.

But the God of your father spake unto me, &c.] Hypocrites forbear sin, as dogs do their meat; not because they hate the carrion, but fear the club. These are as wicked, in their fearful abstaining from sin, as in their furious committing of it. Lupus venit ad ovile: quaerit invadere, iugulare devorare vigilant pastores, latrant canes. - Lupus venit fremens, redit tremens: lupus est tamen, et fremens et tremens , saith Augustine. (a)


Verse 30

Genesis 31:30 And now, [though] thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, [yet] wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

Ver. 30. Why hast thou stolen my gods?] Goodly gods that could not save themselves from the thief! See Jeremiah 10:5; Jeremiah 10:11; Jeremiah 10:15. But Jacob, a just man, is here made a thief of. The best must look to be blasted; "as deceivers, and yet true". [2 Corinthians 6:8] Wicked men’s "throats are open sepulchres," [Psalms 5:9] wherein the good names of God’s innocent ones too oft lie buried: their breath, as fire, shall devour them, saith the prophet. [Isaiah 33:11] Joseph suffered as a dishonest person; Elisha, as a troubler of the state; Jeremiah, as a traitor; Luther, as the trumpet of rebellion. (a) Nay, in one of his Epistles to Spalatinus, Prorsus Satan est Lutherus, saith he; sed Christus vivit et regnat, Amen. He adds his Amen to it; so little was he moved at it. He had learned, and so must we, to pass through "good and evil report," with Paul. [2 Corinthians 6:8] Epiphanius saith, somewhere, that the Jews give out that St Paul turned Christian for spite, because he could not obtain the high priest’s daughter in marriage. We are made "the filth of the world, the sweepings of all things," {περιψηματα; 1 Corinthians 4:13} saith St Paul of himself and his companions; who yet were the very "glory of Jesus Christ". [2 Corinthians 8:23] Phagius reports the story of an Egyptian who said, The Christians were a company of most filthy lecherous people. And for the keeping of the Sabbath, he saith, they had a disease upon them, and were therefore fain to rest the seventh day.


Verse 31

Genesis 31:31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.

Ver. 31. Because I was afraid.] Note the patriarch’s simplicity and veracity, without cunning or colouring. Truth is like our first parents; most beautiful when naked. It was sin covered them; and so this, for the most part.


Verse 32

Genesis 31:32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what [is] thine with me, and take [it] to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

Ver. 32. Let him not live.] This was a rash sentence. Hasty speech may work much woe. How sorry would Jacob have been if Laban had found the images under Rachel, and taken him at his word! What a snare befell Jephthah by his rash speaking! It is a proverb among the Arabians, Cave ne feriat lingua tua collum tuum .{ a} "He is a perfect man that offends not in word," saith St James; for "the tongue is an unruly evil". [James 3:2; James 3:8] Sooner may a man teach a camel to dance upon a rope, than bridle his tongue from evil speaking. Pareus (b) reckons up five virtues of the tongue that perfect a man: but Peraldus (c) recounts twenty-four various vices of it, that, if not restrained, will work his ruth (distress) and ruin. It should seem by that of our Saviour [Matthew 12:37] that a man’s most and worst sins are his words. And St Paul, making the anatomy of a natural man, stands more upon the organ of speaking than on all the other members: [Romans 3:9-18] Let therefore thy words be few, true, and ponderous. An open mouth is a purgatory to the master. Carry a pair of balances betwixt thy lips. Nescit poenitenda loqui, qui proferenda prius suo tradidit examini , saith Cassiodone. (d) Jacob might have learned of the heathen Romans, to speak warily in passing sentence on, or giving testimony of, another. Romani semper Videri in sententiis, in testimoniis Arbitrari, dicebant, saith Cicero.


Verse 33

Genesis 31:33 And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found [them] not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent.

Ver. 33. And Laban went into Jacob’s tent.] Hypocrites are suspicious of others better than themselves, and impudently inquisitive: Curiosi ad cognoscendam vitam alienam, desidiosi ad corrigendam suam; as Augustine hath it. Those that are most inquisitive about other men’s manners, are most careless of their own.


Verse 34

Genesis 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found [them] not.

Ver. 34. Put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them.] Presumptuous sinners deal as homely with the dear mercies of Almighty God, pleading and pretending them to their wicked courses; and so kicking against his heart; which are therefore fast closed against them.


Verse 35

Genesis 31:35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women [is] upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.

Ver. 35. For the custom of women is upon me.] A subtle, but sinful excuse, to shift a shame. Women’s wits, we say, are best at a pinch: but they must take heed they be not as C. Curio the Roman, ingeniose nequam , wittily wicked, (a) Wit will not bear out sin.


Verse 36

Genesis 31:36 And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What [is] my trespass? what [is] my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?

Ver. 36. And Jacob was wroth, and chode.] An angry expostulation; but not without some error, in the heat of altercation. "Be angry, and sin not," [Ephesians 4:26] is, saith one, the easiest charge, under the hardest condition, that can be. It is difficult to kindle and keep quick the fire of zeal, which is the best kind of anger, without all smoke of sin.


Verse 37

Genesis 31:37 Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set [it] here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both.

Ver. 37. Set it here before my brethren.] See the confidence of a clear conscience! Happy is he that can be acquitted by himself in private; in public by others; in both by God. Lucrum in arca, saepe facit damnum in conscientia. But all such as conceive with guile, by that time they have reckoned their months aright, though they grow never so big, shall bring forth nothing but wind and vanity. Yea, they that "sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind". [Hosea 8:7] Let that thou hast be well gotten, and thou needest not care whom thou lookest in the face; thou shalt not be ashamed to "speak with thine enemies in the gate". [Psalms 127:5]


Verse 38

Genesis 31:38 This twenty years [have] I [been] with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.

Ver. 38. The rams of thy flock have I not eaten.] A lively picture of a careful pastor. [2 Corinthians 11:9] He fats not himself, but feeds the flock; he seeks not theirs, neither fleece nor flesh, but them and their welfare. He takes not to him "the instruments of a foolish shepherd"; [Zechariah 11:15] that is, forcipes et mulctram, that he may carry away lac et lanam; but feeds the flock of God, and takes care of the cure, as Peter bids; "not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind," &c. [1 Peter 5:2] About the year of Christ 1260, the people and clergy of England, the Pope’s ass, as it was called, opposed themselves to the legate’s exactions. And when Rustandus, the legate, alleged that all churches were the Pope’s, Leonard, a learned man of those times, answered, Tuitione, non fruitione; defensione, non dissipatione. (a)


Verse 39

Genesis 31:39 That which was torn [of beasts] I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, [whether] stolen by day, or stolen by night.

Ver. 39. Of my hand didst thou require it.] Which was against all right and reason; [Exodus 22:10; Exodus 22:13] but that weighed little with this covetous cormorant. God "smites his fists" at such "dishonest gain," as Balak did at Balaam, in token of extreme indignation. [Ezekiel 22:13] And lest Laban, or any like, should object, that these were but great words; - The Lord would not do it; They would deal well enough with the Lord for that matter; - he adds, in the next verse, "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it". [Genesis 31:14]


Verse 40

Genesis 31:40 [Thus] I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.

Ver. 40. Thus I was; in the day, &c.] Nonresidents do none of all this, those idol, and idle shepherds: they cry out, as he, Pan curet oves, oviumque magistros; { a} being herein not only worse than this good shepherd in the text, but also than Ulysses’ swineherd, in Homer, who would not lie from his charge, (b)


Verse 41

Genesis 31:41 Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.

Ver. 41. I served thee fourteen years, &c.] If all this, to be son-in-law to Laban; what should not we do, or suffer gladly, to be the sons of God?


Verse 42

Genesis 31:42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked [thee] yesternight.

Ver. 42. The fear of Isaac.] God, the proper object of fear; whence he is absolutely called "The fear". [Psalms 76:11] "Bring presents to fear"; that is, to him, to whom all dread is due. The Chaldee Paraphrast rendereth Teraphim, [Genesis 31:32] Laban’s fear. It was an atheistical speech of Statius, Primus in orbe deos fecit Timor. But it was a true saying of Varro, as Calvin cites his words, They that first brought in images of the gods, increased men’s error, but took away their fear. (a)


Verse 43

Genesis 31:43 And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, [These] daughters [are] my daughters, and [these] children [are] my children, and [these] cattle [are] my cattle, and all that thou seest [is] mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?

Ver. 43. These daughters are my daughters, &c.] All this is a flaunt, or rather a flattery. Now he seeks to curry favour, where he could not exercise cruelty; smoothing over the matter, as if he meant them no harm; when he was merely bridled, and could not do them that harm that he desired. This is still the guise of hypocrites, and false brethren; they would be taken for friends, and seek to build up themselves upon better men’s ruins: as here Laban would render Jacob suspicious to his daughters, as one that would hereafter deal hardly with them, if not bound by him, in a covenant, to his good abearance toward them.


Verse 44

Genesis 31:44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.

Ver. 44. Now therefore come thou, &c.] "A fool is full of words," saith Solomon. Which odious custom of his is expressed, μιμητικως, in his vain tautologies: "A man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell?". [Ecclesiastes 10:14] Laban likewise talks a great deal here; and is up with the more, and down with the less, as they say. A covenant he will have, a pillar he will have, and a heap he will have; and that heap shall be a witness, and that pillar a witness, and God a witness, and a Judge too, &c., - there is no end of his discourse; as if, Domnio-like, he cared not so much what, as how much, he spake. (a) The basest things are ever most plentiful. History and experience tell us, that some kind of mouse breedeth an hundred and twenty young ones in one nest whereas the lion and elephant bears but one at once. So the least worth yields the most words.


Verse 45

Genesis 31:45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up [for] a pillar.

Ver. 45. A stone.] Or stones, as Genesis 31:46.


Verse 46

Genesis 31:46 And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.

Ver.46. And Jacob said unto his brethren.] As well Laban’s company as his own, Genesis 31:51.


Verse 47

Genesis 31:47 And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

Ver. 47. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 48

Genesis 31:48 And Laban said, This heap [is] a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;

Ver. 48. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 49

Genesis 31:49 And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

Ver. 49. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 50

Genesis 31:50 If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take [other] wives beside my daughters, no man [is] with us; see, God [is] witness betwixt me and thee.

Ver. 50. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 51

Genesis 31:51 And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold [this] pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee;

Ver. 51. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 52

Genesis 31:52 This heap [be] witness, and [this] pillar [be] witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.

Ver. 52. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:44"}


Verse 53

Genesis 31:53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.

Ver. 53. And Jacob swear by the Fear of his father.] The Chaldee Paraphrast sometimes useth the word fear, or terror, for God, for the reason above given. [Genesis 31:42] Hence Jacob, coming from Syria, and being to swear to a Syrian, swears here by "the Fear of his father Isaac." Where note, that he riseth up no higher than his father, whereas Laban, the idolater, pretends antiquity, appeals to the gods of Abraham, of Nahor, and of their father Terah, who served strange gods. [Joshua 24:2] Papists boast much of antiquity, as once the Gibeonites did of old shoes and mouldy bread. A gentleman being importuned by a Popish questionist, to tell where our religion was before Luther; answered, That our religion was always in the Bible, where your religion never was. Mine antiquity is Jesus Christ, saith Ignatius, and we with him. (a)


Verse 54

Genesis 31:54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

Ver. 54. Called his brethren to eat bread.] And so overcame evil with good; which is the noblest of all victories. God cannot but love in us this imitation of his mercy; and that love is never fruitless.


Verse 55

Genesis 31:55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.

Ver. 55. Laban rose up.] Laban leaves him, Esau meets him, and both with a kiss. "When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him". [Proverbs 16:7]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 31:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-31.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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