Jacob Flees From Laban
"Now Jacob heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, 'Jacob has taken away all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has acquired all this wealth.' And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. Then the LORD said to Jacob, 'Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you'" (Gen. 31:1-3). As Jacob became more and more wealthy at Laban's expense, it is not difficult to imagine how Laban's fondness of him would have evaporated. Previously, when Jacob was making Laban rich, Laban took advantage of his son-in-law and thought nothing of it. Now that Jacob is prospering, Laban's and his sons' demeanor toward Jacob has changed dramatically. Jacob knew something needed to change and God told him it was time to return to Canaan. Jacob needed no persuading.

Jacob communicated the following to his wives, Rachel and Leah:

"And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. If he said thus, 'The speckled shall be your wages,' then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: 'The streaked shall be your wages,' then all the flocks bore streaked. So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me'" (Gen. 31:6-9).

Jacob is giving reasons here to his wives for what he is about to do--relocate their family to Canaan. He affirmed that he had been true and faithful to their father but similar treatment had not been reciprocated. Was the reference here to Laban's deception in regards to Leah or in regards to something else? We cannot say for certain, but Jacob explained how Laban had been changing his wages in an effort, no doubt, to minimize Jacob's gains. But, such was futile since "all" the flocks bore whatever Laban determined to be Jacob's new wages! If Laban was smart enough before to realize that he had been blessed for Jacob's sake, he is likely insightful enough to realize that God's hand is at work in this matter. Still, that would not make Laban feel good about his own fortune in livestock shriveling away to very little.

Jacob further explained - "Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob.' And I said, 'Here I am.' And He said, 'Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family'" (Gen. 31:11-13). Almighty God, who is omniscient, was well aware of what was going on between Laban and Jacob. He had been involved in some way to cause the great blessing Jacob was receiving, but now it was time to move on.

"Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, 'Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children's; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it'" (Gen. 31:14-16). The wives are supportive of Jacob's decision and encourage him to carry it out. The financial loss of Laban had negatively affected his relationships with both his son-in-law and his daughters.

"Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father's. And Jacob stole away, unknown to Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. So he fled with all that he had. He arose and crossed the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gilead" (Gen. 31:19-21). Rachel's theft will complicate things soon. It is sad that Laban possessed such and that Rachel had any interest in them (no matter what the reason). The time was right to leave since Laban was elsewhere working. Jacob evidently thought it most expedient to leave without saying goodbye. Jacob, his family, his possessions, and flocks quietly began the journey to Canaan.