Thursday, October 27, 2005

When he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go (Gen 31)

Did I ever make a commitment to do this blog each and every weekday? I can't remember, but I seem to recall thinking so at least in my mind. I certainly don't have to post constantly, but if I can't at least get out a couple a week, I'm likely to lose what little readership I have, not to mention being lax in the duty I set before myself to use this as a daily Bible study of sorts. In any case, after a very busy week, I'm dropping in today to do at least a short one. While chapter 31 isn't short itself, the SAB has little to say about it. It's another strange story in the saga that is Jacob's life, but nothing contradictory or supernaturally bizarre other than a retouching on items from the last few chapters.

Anyway, in this chapter, we see Jacob noticing that Laban's not as happy with having Jacob around as he used to be, so Jacob decides it's time to leave his father-in-law before something bad happens. Also, he apparently has a dream in which God confirms it's time to go, so he grabs all his stuff and all his family (the nature of which I discussed much previously), and takes off back home to Canaan.

For some reason that is never fully explained (especially since Laban seems to be a believer in the God of the Bible) Laban has some idols in the house that Rachel steals. Maybe she wants to take them away to worship them, maybe she thinks she's serving God by sort of purifying her father's house, maybe the things were worth some money, but we never really get told. There may be something symbolic in the fact that later Rachel hides them under her seat and keeps her saddlebags from being searched by claiming to be unclean due to her period. I couldn't say whether this is Rachel intentionally being ironic, or the author of the story being ironic, but the Bible is fond of mixing sexual and spiritual metaphors, and, well... These were things that God didn't want men to touch for his own reasons. There may also be a bit of comedy in the fact that Laban's "gods" are rendered powerless by a woman sitting on them.

Laban in any case is upset that Jacob tried to sneak away as though he were kidnapping his daughters, and in coming after Jacob, seems to hint that he wants to have harsh words with him, but doesn't feel he can since God told him not to in a dream. Of course, he still wants his household gods back, but can't seem to find them. Jacob, knowing nothing about it, probably feels he's being wrongfully accused.

Laban and Jacob make a covenant, so that they can depart on good terms, as neither of them fully trusts the other. They make a pile of stones to commemorate the event, which they each call "witness pile" in their own language. Yes, it's okay to make an oath, but I personally won't make an oath that I'll have new post tomorrow although I'll try.

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