Laban’s Covenant With Jacob
If you remember in my other blog posts Jacob had secretly left Laban with his family. The two men had never agreed, and their problems were not solved. When Laban found out that Jacob had bolted, Laban went after Jacob and finally caught up with him after a week. Let’s see what happens after Laban approaches Jacob.
Then Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children?
Genesis 31:43 (NLT)
God’s warning in the dream and Jacob’s forceful defence told Laban that he was beaten, but the old deceiver put on a brave front just the same and tried to make everybody think he was a peacemaker. Laban now uses some good logic.
All that Jacob had was Laban’s at one time and would still be his in a sense if he embraced Jacob and his family instead of drove them away. So he suggests entering into a covenant with Jacob, which Jacob agrees to. He should have done this before. If he had, he would have gotten at least one more year’s service out of Jacob before he headed back home.
So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.
So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).
Genesis 31:44-47 (NLT)
Both families gathered stones and ate a meal together on those stones as a symbol of the agreement they had reached. Eating a meal together is an Eastern custom when creating a binding agreement (Gen. 26:26-33).
Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the LORD keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight.”
Genesis 31:48-49 (NLT)
The pile of stones was to stand as a witness to the agreement they had made, but it was also to be a “watchtower” (Mizpah) or boundary marker that neither Jacob nor Laban was allowed to cross. Actually, their “agreement” wasn’t a declaration of peace; it was only a truce that could be broken if either party violated the terms.
It’s too bad the so-called “Mizpah benediction” is still found in many Christian hymnals, because what Laban said to Jacob wasn’t a benediction at all. To paraphrase, he said: “We’re separating from one another, but God is watching both of us.”
If you should afflict, humiliate, or lower [divorce] my daughters, or if you should take other wives beside my daughters, although no man is with us [to witness], see (remember), God is witness between you and me.
Genesis 31:50 (AMP)
If you mistreat my daughters, I won’t know it but God will. So, be careful! Laban didn’t see the God of Abraham and Isaac as a gracious Lord who had brought them together but as a heavenly Judge who would keep them both from harming each other. In spite of their oaths, Jacob and Laban didn’t trust each other, so they had to trust the Lord to keep them from harming each other. Mizpah was a monument to suspicion and fear, not to love and trust.
See this pile of stones and this pillar, which I have set between us. This pile is a witness and this pillar is a witness that I will not pass beyond this pile of stones to harm you, and you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor (the God of their father Terah) serve as judge between us.
This is no sweet farewell. It is a parting of the ways between two men who don’t trust one another. Both are tricksters, but they are family. It is probably best from now on if they avoid each other completely.
So Jacob swore an oath on the Fear of Isaac, his father; and Jacob offered a sacrifice on the hill there and called all of his relatives together to eat bread. And they all ate bread and spent the rest of the night in the hill country.
Genesis 31:51-54 (VOICE)
Jacob closed the day by offering sacrifices to the Lord and inviting his relatives to share in the sacrificial meal. He wanted the God of his fathers to be honored before this pagan family that had caused him so much grief.
And early in the morning Laban rose up and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and pronounced a blessing [asking God’s favor] on them. Then Laban departed and returned to his home.
Genesis 31:55 (AMP)
The next morning, Laban said his farewells and returned home; and a long and difficult chapter in Jacob’s life came to a close, a chapter in which God was with him from beginning to end. But a new chapter would soon open in which his own brother Esau would play a prominent part.
Life isn’t easy, but if we submit to God’s disciplines and let Him guide us in our decisions, we can endure the difficulties triumphantly and develop the kind of character that glorifies God. We can conquer by claiming promises like 1 Peter 5:10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (NKJV).
The God of Jacob never fails.
|Be Authentic (Genesis 25-50)
By Warren W. Wiersbe
Life is full of imitations. Which is why today’s culture genuine, transparent people of God; believers who crave real spiritual growth. But what does that look like? The book of Genesis provides the answer, where we find 3 men who experienced an authentic life: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Be Authentic: Genesis 25-50 shows the vital need shows the vital need for authenticity in an artificial world. Through this commentary you will discover how to pursue authentic relationships with others and God and how to live out your faith in an irresistible, compelling way.