Finally, the Jacob and Laban Story is Over (Genesis 31:20)

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With his eyes and his face fully set towards his homeland, Jacob forgot one important detail in his departure: Not saying goodbye to Laban.

The Text plainly states this as a deception (Genesis 31:20). Curiously though, the Hebrew literally states that Jacob “stole the heart” of Laban in fleeing. Whether “heart” is personified as Rachel, Leah, or one of his grandkids is not clear.

It’s not hard to agree with Jacob in leaving, though. Everyone’s in agreement that Laban had lied to Jacob and tried to manipulate him into staying, but eventually, Jacob had to leave in order to fulfill the commandment given to him by God. God said go, so Jacob needed to go.

I don’t blame Jacob one second for not saying goodbye to Laban. The first time he tried to make a deal with him (for the right to marry Rachel), Laban tricked him. When Jacob tried to leave after Joseph was born, Laban tried to talk him into staying.

What do you think would’ve happened if Jacob had knocked on Laban’s door to tell him that he was leaving this time? The only way he could make a clean break was if he left without saying goodbye. Otherwise, he risked dealing with yet another stall tactic from Laban.

Or, as Jacob later admitted, he knew that Laban might try to keep Jacob and his family there by force (Genesis 31:31).

When Laban finally hears about Jacob’s absence and takes off in his direction, God intervenes: “Do not speak to Jacob either good or bad” (Genesis 31:24). This mirrors a phrase that Jacob himself used in Genesis 24:50, and essentially says that Laban can’t really comment on Jacob’s departure one way or another.

That places Laban in an awkward position. After chasing him for a week and finally catching up to him, Laban can’t really reveal the reason for chasing him. Instead, he just complains that Jacob left before he could say goodbye.


Not that God’s warning stops Laban from trying to extract something from Jacob. He then accuses Jacob of stealing his household gods, which Jacob responds by agreeing to return them and punish the offender.

What he doesn’t realize is that Rachel is the one that stole them.

Rachel successfully hides the household idols from Laban, and he and Jacob bury the hatchet through a mutual covenant. In the end, peace is finally achieved through these two dueling households, but only after both parties constantly tried to one-up the other.

Finally, after 20 years of deception and lies, Jacob is free from Laban’s house.