Jacob’s Righteous Tantrum (Genesis 31:36)

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After nearly 20 years of deception by his father-in-law, Jacob had finally had enough.

First, he agreed to work for seven years for Rachel, only to wake up one morning and find himself married to Leah.

Then, he agrees to work another seven years for Rachel (again), only to be swindled into working six more years for a paycheck.

Now, after he’s rightfully taken what’s his and left without burning the house down, Laban has the gall to accuse him of stealing some household idols on his way out the door.

Let’s state the obvious: Why would Jacob need the idols for anyway? He’s not going to worship them. They weren’t his ancestors, and his wealth far surpasses whatever he could sell those for. Why risk it all to steal some random idols?

Jacob recognizes this accusation as preposterous and rightfully lays into Laban. His argument is both multi-layered and reasonable:

  • Laban has aggressively pursued Jacob and threatened violence over a false claim (36).
  • Jacob has willingly offered to punish the offender, whoever they may be (37).
  • Jacob has worked for two decades with very little (financial) pay (38).
  • Anything of Laban’s that Jacob has lost, Jacob covered the cost for out of his own pocket (39).
  • Jacob has served Laban through extreme discomfort (40).
  • If anyone has cheated anyone, it’s Laban (41).
  • If Laban has an argument with Jacob, he needs to take it up with God who has been with Jacob for 20 years (42).

It’s clear that Jacob has a case against Laban, not the other way around. Jacob is totally in the right to clear his own name, especially since it seems that Laban is so aggressive in taking what is his.

If we’re going to be equally emphatic in clearing our own name, it should be because we have the facts, like Jacob did. A tantrum based on emotion or because we feel “attacked” never accomplishes anything.