Published on
December 22, 2023

Genesis 31

“Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: 'Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built his wealth from what belonged to our father.'”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Genesis 31
“Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: ‘Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built his wealth from what belonged to our father.’ And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family and I will be with you.’” Genesis 31:1-3 (HCSB)

Six chapters in Genesis (this one and the 5 preceding it) tell the story of Jacob’s moral downfall. In his oft-misquoted poem, Marmion (generally attributed to Shakespeare), Sir Walter Scott once wrote, “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” By chapter 31, Jacob has reached the pinnacle of his decline, wrapped up in the web of his own deceit, as it were. This is where we learn that cheaters never win and winners never cheat.

After the American Civil War, when slaves were supposed to be freed, many plantation owners found new ways to cheat their former slaves of their human rights. This “legal” form of slavery was called the Company Store. Here’s how it worked. The plantation owner would set up a store on his property to supply all the dry goods his servants would need. He would not pay his “employees” with US currency and devised a new monetary element called the “chit.” This was the only form of money accepted at the Company Store.

Since his field hands were uneducated, they had no idea they were being scammed. When the “chits” ran out, they would buy from the store on credit accounts. The account was tallied at the end of the month, and the crooked plantation owners would always find ways to keep the servants in debt. You couldn’t leave till you paid your debt…slavery.

According to ancient custom, Laban had a similar scam running on Jacob. Despite Jacob’s completed years of service, his wives and children were in the legal power of Laban, who could refuse to hand them over to Jacob. We see this in Laban’s statement in verse 43, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine….”

So, what does this mean to us? Satan wants to own you. Every negotiation with Satan compromises God’s standard and leads you into further bondage and indebtedness.

God will allow us to feel the sting of our sin, to feel its consequence to rebuke and teach us. But when He knows our lessons have been learned, He extends mercy and grace, leading to our repentance. (Romans 2:4)

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