Genesis 31- was Laban a good father?

Genesis 31 is definitely one of the less known chapters in the Patriarchs stories. However’ once we read this chapter there are some excellent topics to discuss as: the conversation of Jacob with the angel (Genesis 31:11-13), the name of God as El-bet-el (Genesis 31:13), two different gods that are in the chapter- God of Abraham and God of Nachor (Genesis 31:53) and more.

Today I wanted to emphasize the words of Laban to Jacob at the end of the chapter. When we look how his daughters described him in the beginning of the chapter the picture that we get is only negative as Rachel and Leah, mentioned:

“וַתַּ֤עַן רָחֵל֙ וְלֵאָ֔ה וַתֹּאמַ֖רְנָה ל֑וֹ הַע֥וֹד לָ֛נוּ חֵ֥לֶק וְנַחֲלָ֖ה בְּבֵ֥ית אָבִֽינוּ׃ הֲל֧וֹא נָכְרִיּ֛וֹת נֶחְשַׁ֥בְנוּ ל֖וֹ כִּ֣י מְכָרָ֑נוּ וַיֹּ֥אכַל גַּם־אָכ֖וֹל אֶת־כַּסְפֵּֽנוּ׃ כִּ֣י כָל־הָעֹ֗שֶׁר אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִצִּ֤יל אֱלֹהִים֙ מֵֽאָבִ֔ינוּ לָ֥נוּ ה֖וּא וּלְבָנֵ֑ינוּ וְעַתָּ֗ה כֹּל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָמַ֧ר אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֵלֶ֖יךָ עֲשֵֽׂה”

“And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not counted of him strangers? For he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. 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! (Genesis 31:14-16).

But, reading the words of Laban at the end of the chapter changes the picture, he is not just interested of being rich, or to steal the money of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, he is also a good father’ as written:

“אִם־תְּעַנֶּ֣ה אֶת־בְּנֹתַ֗י וְאִם־תִּקַּ֤ח נָשִׁים֙ עַל־בְּנֹתַ֔י אֵ֥ין אִ֖ישׁ עִמָּ֑נוּ רְאֵ֕ה אֱלֹהִ֥ים עֵ֖ד בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵינֶֽךָ׃”

“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.”(Genesis 31:50).

The sentence of Laban is not completed, since he didn’t say to Jacob what will happen if Jacob won’t take care of his daughters. I actually think that he wanted to take care of them.

What do you think?

Have a blessed week, El


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