Sunday, January 8, 2017

Genesis 31:43-55 comments: a stone witness

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? 44  Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. 45  And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 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. 47  And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. 48  And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; 49  And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another. 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. 51  And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; 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. 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. 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. 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.

Laban replies that Rachel and Leah are his daughters and that Jacob’s offspring belong to him. He claims that Jacob’s sheep are his sheep and everything Jacob has carried off belongs to him. He then admits that he could not possibly do any harm to his daughters and their children, weakly cutting Jacob out of the equation. After this verbal domination game he then offers a covenant to Jacob. I would presume he knows he is beaten in this, that he cannot go against Jacob and face God’s wrath.

They laid a pile of stones to memorialize their covenant. Laban called it Jegarsahadutha which Strong says, confirmed by the context, means ‘witness heap.’ Jacob calls it Galeed. This also means ‘witness heap’ according to Strong’s. It is given the names Galeed and Mizpah, meaning a watchtower. Laban, and most fathers can understand this sentiment as Laban warns that this heap of stones signifies that God is watching Jacob’s behavior toward Laban’s daughters. Laban acknowledges Jehovah God as the judge between himself and Jacob. Neither of them is to pass that heap of stones to each other with the intent of doing harm. Jacob agreed and offered a sacrifice and then they had a meal. The next day Laban departed after kissing his daughters and grandchildren, presumably never to see them again.

Laban has engaged in a psychological device where he feels more secure even though he has no security. The presumed weaker party in a conflict, it is revealed, has a powerful ally who changes the balance of power in the conflict. The party that thought it had all the power now demands an agreement where they mutually agree not to harm each other, as if he still had the power to harm the weaker party and would be held back by the agreement he proposed. Neither Laban, nor you, nor your employer, nor your government, nor any individual or collective you can imagine is able to stand against God; all contracts, signed agreements, and treaties aside.

God’s plan of reconciling mankind to Himself continues and another saint has been nurtured and strengthened in a potential enemy’s camp, receiving booty and gain, then moving on. The stage is now being set for the creation of the people of Israel, through which Christ will come.

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