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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

The summary of the entire Torah is as simple as this:
Love what HaShem loves; hate what HaShem hates. All else is commentary.

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית • B'resheet
(“In Beginning” or “At First”)
The First Book of Moses,
Commonly Called


Parashah 7: Vayetze (continued)
(“He went out”) Gen 28:10 –32:2
(Small Roman numerals in the text indicate each 'aliyah.)

~ 31 ~

6. Ya'akov’s Closing Days with Lavan (30:25-31:55)

a. Works Six More Years for Livestock (30:25-31:16) [March 1716-1710 BCE]

1Ya'akov heard that Lavan’s sons were saying, “Ya'akov has taken away all that belonged to our father and built all this wealth from that which was our father’s.” 2Ya'akov saw from the expression on Lavan’s face that his attitude toward him had changed. 3Then יְהוָ֛ה[GN] said to Ya'akov, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

4So Ya'akov sent word to Rachel and Le'ah to come to the field where his flocks were. 5He told them, “I can tell from the expression on your father’s face that his attitude toward me has changed; but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have worked for your father with all my strength. 7Your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but Elohim[GN] didn’t allow him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The spotted sheep will be your wages,’ then the whole flock bore spotted lambs. If he said, ‘The striped sheep will be your wages,’ then the whole flock bore striped lambs. 9Thus Elohim has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me. 10During mating season, I saw in a dream that the striped, spotted, and speckled male goats were mating with the females. 11In that dream the Angel of Elohim[GN] said to me, ‘Ya'akov,’ and I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Now look up, and see that all the male goats that are mating with fhe females are striped, spotted, and speckled; I have seen everything that Lavan has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Beit-ElBethel, “house of God”, where you anointed the pillar and made a sacred vow to me. Now get up, go out from this land, and return to your native land.’”

14Rachel and Le'ah answered him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left for us in our father’s house? 15Aren’t we regarded as foreigners by him? Not only has he has sold us, he has also squandered the money that was paid for us.[15] 16Surely all the wealth that Elohim has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever Elohim has told you to do.”

[1710 BCE • Ya'akov leaves Haran]

b. Departure from Lavan (31:17-55)

(1) The Secret Departure (31:17-21)

(vi) 17Then Ya'akov got up and set his children and his wives on camels, 18and he took all his livestock and the possessions he had acquired, including all the livestock which he had gained in Paddan Aram, and set out to go to his father Yitz'chak in the land of Kena'an. 19Now while Lavan had gone out to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s teraphim.[19]

20Ya'akov deceived Lavan the Syrian by not telling him that he was running away. 21So he fled with all that he owned, crossed the [Euphrates] River, and headed toward the hill country of Gilead. [MAP]

(2) Lavan Pursues Ya'akov (31:22-24)

22On the third day Lavan was told that Ya'akov had fled. 23He took his kinsmen with him, pursued Ya'akov for seven days, and overtook him at Mount Gilead. [MAP] 24But that night Elohim came to Lavan the Syrian in a dream, and warned him, “Be careful that you don’t say to Ya'akov, either good or bad.”

(3) Lavan Overtakes Ya'akov (31:25-29)

25When Lavan caught up with Ya'akov, Ya'akov had made camp in the hill country, and Lavan and his kinsmen also encamped in the hill country of Gilead. 26Then Lavan said to Ya'akov, “What have you done? You have deceived me and carried off my daughters like prisoners of war! 27Why did you run away secretly and deceive me without telling me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and with harps. 28But you didn’t even let me kiss my [grand]children and my daughters! Now have you acted foolishly. 29I have the power to do you great harm, but last night the God of your father told me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Ya'akov, either good or bad.’

(4) The Search for the Teraphim (31:30-35)

 30Now you have gone off because you long for your father, but why have you stolen my gods?”

31Ya'akov answered, “Because I was afraid that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find your gods with anyone here, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, point out anything that is yours with and take it.” For Ya'akov didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the idols.

33So Lavan went into Ya'akov’s tent, then Le'ah’s tent, and into the tent of the two maidservants, but he didn’t find them. He left Le'ah’s tent and went into Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the teraphim and put them in the camel’s saddlebag, and was sitting on them. Lavan searched everything in the tent, but found nothing. 35Rachel said to her father, “Sir, don’t be angry that I can’t stand up before you, but I’m having my period.” So he searched, but didn’t find the teraphim.

(5) Ya'akov Recounts His Days with Lavan (31:36-42)

36Then Ya'akov became incensed and challenged Lavan, “What is my crime? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37Now that you have searched all my possessions, have you found anything that belongs to you? Set it here in front of my relatives and yours, and let them decide between us!

38“I have been with you these twenty years. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I haven’t eaten the rams from your flock. 39I didn’t bring to you any animal that was torn by wild beasts, but I bore its loss myself. You demanded payment from me for anything that was stolen either by day or by night. 40This was my situation: the heat consumed me by day, and the frost by night; and sleep fled from my eyes. 41For twenty years I have worked in your household — fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock — and you have changed my wages ten times. 42Unless the God of my father, the God of Avraham, and the Fear of Yitz'chak had been with me, you would have surely sent me away empty-handed. Elohim has seen my affliction and my hard work, and issued His verdict last night.”

(6) The Covenant of Mizpah (31:43-55)

(vii) 43Then Lavan answered Ya'akov, “These daughters are my daughters, these children are my children, these flocks are my flocks, and everything that you see is mine! What can I do today for these daughters of mine, or for the children they have borne? 44Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I. Let it seerve as a witness between the two of us.”

45So Ya'akov picked out a stone and set it up as a monument. 46Then Ya'akov said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” They took stones and made a mound, then they ate by the mound. 47Lavan called the mound Jegar Sahadutha“Witness Heap” שָׂהֲדוּתָ֑א (śā·hă·ḏū·ṯā) (Aramaic), but Ya'akov called it Galeed“Witness Heap” גַּלְעֵֽד (gal·‘êḏ) (Hebrew). 48Then Lavan said, “This mound is witness between me and you today.” Therefore it was named Galeed 49and also Mizpahמִצְפָה, “watchtower”, for he said, “May יְהוָ֛ה watch between me and you when we are out of each other’s sight.[49] 50If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, even if no one is with us, remember that Elohim is witness between me and you.” 51Lavan also said to Ya'akov, “See this mound and the marker I have set between you and me. 52This mound is a witness, and this marker is a witness that I will not pass beyond this mound to you for harm, and that you will not pass beyond this mound and this pillar to me for harm. 53I call on the God of your grandfather Avraham and the God of my grandfather Nachor, the God of their father to judge between us.” Then Ya'akov swore by the Fear of his father Yitz'chak. 54Then Ya'akov offered a sacrifice in the mountain and invited his relatives to eat a meal. They ate the bread and spent the night in the mountain. 55Early in the morning, Lavan got up and kissed his [grand]sons[55] and his daughters and blessed them. Lavan departed and returned home.

Chapter 32


15. Everything that Ya'akov had earned for Lavan over the previous 14 years would have been considered the “bride price” paid for his two daughters. [RETURN]

19. Teraphim were household idols that have been associated with inheritance rights to the household property. Excavations at Nuzi in in northern Mesopotamia show that the possession of the teraphim of a father-in-law by the son-in-law was legally acceptable of proof of the designation of the son-in-law as principal heir. See also the Jewish Virtual Library article. [RETURN]

Mizpah necklace

49. Here is a classic example of Scripture being used totally out of context. Couples or close friends give each other half of this Mizpah necklace with the idea that they are asking God to keep each other safe while they are apart. Yet in Scripture Lavan and Yitz'chak used it as a symbol of their peace treaty, with the intent that if each of them broke the treaty, God would deliver His judgment against the offender. [RETURN]

55. There is no specific Hebrew word for grandson or grandfather, just בֵּן (ben), son, and אָב (av), father. [RETURN]

Originally posted on Sunday, 22 August 2021

Page last updated on Sunday, 05 June 2022 10:30 AM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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