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29 It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, Be careful that you do not speak from good to bad to Jacob [peaceably, then violently].

30 And now you felt you must go because you were homesick for your father’s house, but why did you steal my [household] [a]gods?

31 Jacob answered Laban, Because I was afraid; for I thought, Suppose you would take your daughters from me by force.

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Footnotes

  1. Genesis 31:30 Why was Laban making such a great commotion about some small idols? It had never been satisfactorily explained until the answer was found in the excavated Nuzi tablets (J. P. Free, Archaeology Illuminates the Bible), which showed that possession of the father’s household gods played an important role in inheritance (W. F. Albright, “Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands,” in Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible). One of the Nuzi tablets indicated that in the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family images could appear in court and make claim to the estate of his father-in-law (various authors cited by Allan A. MacRae, “The Relation of Archaeology to the Bible,” in American Scientific Affiliation, Modern Science and Christian Faith). Since Jacob’s possession of the images implied the right to inheritance of Laban’s wealth, one can understand why Laban organized his hurried expedition to recover the images (J. P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History).

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