In Genesis 30:25-43, Jacob wanted to return to Canaan, but Laban did not want him to leave because he "divined" that he prospered while Jacob worked for him (30:27-30). Divination is "the attempt to discover hidden knowledge through incantation or other supernatural means" (Holman Old Testament Commentary: Genesis, p. 251). Divination is forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10,14).
Laban was an Aramean (25:20) and they worshiped:
Sumero-Akkadian and Canaanite gods, such as Hadda (Adad), the storm-god, El, the supreme deity of Canaan, Sin, Ishtar (whom they called 'Attar), the Phoenician goddess Anat ('Atta) and others.
[Aramaeans. (2011, January 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:07, January 25, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aramaeans&oldid=409156092].
Laban was not interested in Jacob's God but only His blessings. Jacob devised a plan of selective breeding, but Laban thought he would be at the advantage. We will discover in the next chapter that God had intervened and blessed Jacob. This fulfilled the promise given to Jacob at Bethel.
For the most part, Jacob had acted on his own and not depended very much on the LORD unless it was an emergency or God spoke to him directly. In Genesis 31, there is a change as he called on Him eight times! Jacob was growing.
He heard God's call to go back in 31:3 and gave glory to God for his prosperity in 31:5. He responded to the angel of the LORD with a "Here I am" in 31:11. He obeyed by going back in 31:17. He has come a long way! God had told Jacob at Bethel that he would return to the Promised Land in 28:15, and now was the time.
We observe that he still deceived Laban by not telling him he was going. He was still a deceiver and so was Rachel when she stole the household god!
At the conclusion of this chapter, there is a covenant made between Laban and Jacob. A covenant is:
A solemn binding agreement made by passing through pieces of flesh. The arbitrator of the covenant was God - men involved God to call the other person into account should they break the covenant. (Wrestling with God by Kay Arthur).
We will see another example of this kind of covenant when we get to 1 Samuel 20:16 and the covenant between David and Jonathan.
In Genesis 31:53, Laban says, "May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor (Abraham's brother), the God of their father (Terah) judge between us." The word "judge" is in the plural indicating that Abraham, Nahor, and Terah worshiped different gods. When Isaac responded taking an oath in the "fear of his father Isaac" like he had referred to "the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac" in 31:42, Waltke believes he was saying the "awesome one of Isaac" and making a statement to Laban that his God is separate from the god of Nahor (Genesis, p. 434).
No REFLECTION and APPLICATION today. I hope you are enjoying your reading!
Lord, thank You that we can see Jacob growing through these chapters. I praise You as a God of process and transformation, and I thank You that You are doing just that in each one of us as we study Your Word! Lord, thank You that Your Word will not return to You empty without accomplishing what You desire and without succeeding in the matter for which You have sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Please accomplish Your will in us today! Amen.