(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 10)

have them courteously obsequious to his wishes; because their favour 
might have deprived him of the blessing of God. We also have more than 
sufficient experience of the power of earthly attractions, and of the 
ease with which, when they abound, the oblivion of celestial blessings 
steals over us. Wherefore let us not think it hard to be awakened by the 
Lord, when we fall into adversity, or receive but little favour from the 
world; for hatred, threats, disgrace, and slanders, are often more 
advantageous to us than the applause of all men on every side. Moreover, 
we must notice the inhumanity of Laban's sons, who complain throughout 
as if they had been plundered by Jacob. But sordid and avaricious men 
labour under the disease of thinking that they are robbed of everything 
with which they do not gorge themselves. For since their avarice is 
insatiable, it follows of necessity that the prosperity of others 
torments them, as if they themselves would be thereby reduced to want. 
They do not consider whether Jacob acquired this great wealth justly or 
unjustly; but they are enraged and envious, because they conceive that 
so much has been abstracted from them. Laban had before confessed, that 
he had been enriched by the coming of Jacob, and even that he had been 
blessed by the Lord for Jacob's sake; but now his sons murmur, and he 
himself is tortured with grief, to find that Jacob also is made a 
partaker of the same blessing. Hence we perceive the blindness of 
avarice which can never be satisfied. Whence also it is called by Paul 
"the root of all evil;" because they who desire to swallow up everything 
must be perfidious, and cruel, and ungrateful, and in every way unjust. 
Besides, it is to be observed that the sons of Laban, in the impetuosity 
of their younger years, give vent to their vexation; but the father, 
like a cunning old fox, is silent, yet betrays his wickedness by his 
  3. "And the Lord said unto Jacob." The timidity of the holy man is 
here more plainly seen; for he, perceiving that evil was designed 
against him by his father-in-law, still dared not to move a foot, unless 
encouraged by a new oracle. But the Lord, who, by facts, had shown him 
already that no longer delay was to be made, now also urges him by 
words. Let us learn from this example, that although the Lord may incite 
us to duty by adversity, yet we shall thereby profit little, unless the 
stimulus of the word be added. And we see what will happen to the 
reprobate; for either they become stupefied in their wickedness, or they 
break out into fury. Wherefore, that the instruction conveyed by outward 
things may profit us, we must ask the Lord to shine upon us in his own 
word. The design, however, of Moses chiefly refers to this point, that 
we may know that Jacob returned to his own country, under the special 
guidance of God. Now the land of Canaan is called the land of Abraham 
and Isaac, not because they had sprung from it; but because it had been 
divinely promised to them as their inheritance. Wherefore, by this voice 
the holy man was admonished, that although Isaac had been a stranger, 
yet, in the sight of God, he was the heir and lord of that land, in 
which he possessed nothing but a sepulchre. 
  4. "And Jacob sent." He sends for his wives, in order to explain to 
them his intention, and to exhort them to accompany him in his flight; 
for it was his duty as a good husband to take them away with him; and 
therefore it was necessary to inform them of his design. And he was not 
so blind as to be unmindful of the many dangers of his plan. It was 
difficult to convey women, who had never left their father's house, to a 
remote region, by an unknown journey. Moreover, there was ground to fear 
lest they, in seeking protection for themselves, might betray their 
husband to his enemies. The coverage of many would so far have failed 
them, in such a state of perturbation, that they would have disregarded 
conjugal fidelity, to provide for their own safety. Jacob, therefore, 
acted with great constancy in choosing rather to expose himself to 
danger than to fail in the duty of a good husband and master of a 
family. If his wives had refused to accompany him, the call of God would 
have compelled him to depart. But God granted him what was far more 
desirable, that his whole family, with one consent, were prepared to 
follow him: moreover, his wives, with whose mutual strifes his house 
before had rung, now freely consent to go with him into exile. So the 
Lord, when in good faith we discharge our duty, and shun nothing which 
he commands, enables us to succeed, even in the most doubtful affairs. 
Further, from the fact that Jacob calls his wives to him into the field, 
we infer what an anxious life he led. Certainly it would have been a 
primary convenience of his life, to dwell at home with his wives. He was 
already advanced in age, and worn down with many toils; and therefore he 
had the greater need of their service. Yet satisfied with a cottage in 
which he might watch over his flock, he lived apart from them. If, then, 
there had been a particle of equity in Laban and his sons, they would 
have found no cause for envy. 
  5. "I see your father's countenance." This address consists of two 
parts. For first, he speaks of his own integrity, and expostulates 
concerning the perfidy of his father-in-law. He next testifies that God 
is the author of his prosperity, in order that Rachel and Leah may the 
more willingly accompany him. And whereas he had become very rich in a 
short space of time, he purges himself from all suspicion; and even 
appeals to them as witnesses of his diligence. And though Moses does not 
minutely relate everything; yet there is no doubt that the honesty of 
their husband had been made clear to them by many proofs, and that, on 
the other hand, the injuries, frauds, and rapacity of their father, were 
well known. When he complains that his wages had been changed ten times, 
it is probable that the number ten is simply put for many times. 
Nevertheless it may be, that within six years Laban might thus 
frequently have broken his agreements; since there would be twice as 
many seasons of breeding lambs, namely, at spring and autumn, as we have 
said. But this narration of the dream, although it follows in a 
subsequent part of the history, shows that holy Jacob had undertaken 
nothing but by the Divine command. Moses had before related the 
transaction simply, saying nothing respecting the counsel from which it 
had proceeded; but now, in the person of Jacob himself, he removes all 
doubt respecting it; for he does not intimate that Jacob was lying, in 
order, by this artifice, to deceive his wives; but he introduces the 
holy servant of God, avowing truly, and without pretence, the case as it 
really was. For otherwise he would have abused the name of God, not 
without abominable impiety, by connecting this vision with that former 
one, in which we see that the gate of heaven was opened unto him. 
  13. "I am the God of Bethel." It is not wonderful that the angel 
should assume the person of God: either because God the Father appeared 
to the holy patriarchs in his own Word, as in a lively mirror, and that 
under the form of an angel; or because angels, speaking by the command 
of God, rightly utter their words, as from his mouth. For the prophets 
are accustomed to this form of speaking; not that they may exalt 
themselves into the place of God; but only that the majesty of God, 
whose ministers they are, may shine forth in his message. Now, it is 
proper that we should more carefully consider the force of this form of 
expression. He does not call himself the God of Bethel, because he is 
confined within the limits of a given place, but for the purpose of 
renewing to his servant the remembrance of his own promise; for holy 
Jacob had not yet attained to that degree of perfection which rendered 
the more simple rudiments unnecessary for him. But little light of true 
doctrine at that time prevailed; and even that was wrapped in many 
shadows. Nearly the whole world had apostatized to false gods; and that 
region, nay, even the house of his father-in-law, was filled with unholy 
superstitions. Therefore, amid so many hindrances, nothing was more 
difficult for him than to hold his faith in the one true God firm and 
invincible. Wherefore, in the first place, pure religion is commended to 
him, in order that, among the various errors of the world, he may adhere 
to the obedience and worship of that God whom he had once known. 
Secondly; the promise which he had before received is anew confirmed to 
him, in order that he may always keep his mind fixed on the special 
covenant which God had made with Abraham and his posterity. Thus he is 
directed to the land of Canaan, which was his own inheritance; lest the 
temporal blessing of God, which he was soon to enjoy, should detain his 
heart in Mesopotamia. For since this oracle was only an appendix of the 
previous one, whatever benefits God afterwards bestowed ought to be 
referred to that first design. We may also conjecture from this passage, 
that Jacob had before preached to his household concerning the true God 
and the true religion, as became a pious father of his family. For he 
would have acted absurdly in uttering this discourse, unless his wives 
had been previously instructed respecting that wonderful vision. To the 
same point belongs what he had said before, "that the God of his father 
had brought him assistance." For it is just as if he would openly 
distinguish the God whom he worshipped from the god of Laban. And now, 
because he holds familiar discourse with his wives, as on subjects which 
they know, the conjecture is probable, that it was not Jacob's fault if 
they were not imbued with the knowledge of the one God, and with sincere 
piety. Further, by this oracle the Lord declared that he is always 
mindful of the godly, even when they seem to be cast down and deserted. 
For who would not have said that the outcast Jacob was now deprived of 
all celestial help? And truly the Lord appears to him late; but beyond 
all expectation shows, that he had never been forgetful of him. Let the 
faithful, also, at this day, feel that he is the same towards them; and 
if, in any way, the wicked tyrannically oppress them by unjust violence, 
let them bear it patiently, until at length, in due time, he shall 
avenge them. 
  14. "And Rachel and Leah answered." Here we perceive that to be 
fulfilled which Paul teaches, that all things work together for good to 
the children of God. (Rom. 8: 28.) For since the wives of Jacob had been 
unjustly treated by their father, they so far act in opposition to the 
natural tenderness of their sex, that at the desire of their husband, 
they become willing to follow him into a distant and unknown region. 
Therefore, if Jacob is compelled to take many and very bitter draughts 
of grief, he is now cheered by the most satisfying compensation, that 
his wives are not separated from him by their attachment to their 
father's house: but rather, being overcome by the irksome nature of 
their sufferings, they earnestly undertake to join him in his flight. 
"There is nothing," they say, "which should cause us to remain with our 
father; for daughters adhere to their fathers, because they are esteemed 
members of his family; but what a cruel rejection is this, not only that 
he has prostituted us without dowry, but that he has set us to sale, and 
has devoured the price for which he sold us?" By the word money (ver. 
15), I understand the price of sale. For they complain that, at least, 
they had not received, instead of dowry, the profit which had been 
unjustly extorted from their husband, but this gain also had been 
unjustly suppressed by their covetous father. Therefore the particle 
"gam" is inserted, which is used for the purpose of amplification among 
the Hebrews. For this increased not a little the meanness of Laban, 
that, as an insatiable whirlpool, he had absorbed the gain acquired by 
this most dishonourable traffic. And it is to be noted, that they were 
then devoted to their husband, and were therefore free to depart from 
their father; especially since they knew that the hand of God was 
stretched out to them. There is also no doubt, seeing they were 
persuaded that Jacob was a faithful prophet of God, but that they freely 
embraced the heavenly oracle from his mouth; for at the close of their 
reply, they show that they did not so much yield to his wish as to the 
command of God. 
  16. "For all the riches which God has taken from our father." Rachel 
and Leah confirm the speech of Jacob; but yet in a profane and common 
manner, not with a lively and pure sense of religion. For they only make 
a passing allusion to the fact, that God, in pity to his servant, had 
deigned to honour him with peculiar favour; and in the meantime, insist 
upon a reason of little solidity, that what they were carrying away was 
justly their due, because a part of the inheritance pertained to them. 
They do not argue that the riches they possessed were theirs, because 
they had been justly acquired. by the labour of their husband; but 
because they themselves ought not to have been defrauded of their dowry, 
and now deprived of their lawful inheritance. For this reason they 
mention also their children with themselves, as having sprung from the 
blood of Laban. By this method they not only obscure the blessing of 
God, but indulge themselves in greater license than is right. They also 
form a mean estimate of their husband's labours, in boasting that the 
fruit of those labours proceeded from themselves. Wherefore we are, by 
no means, to seek hence a precedent for the way in which each is to 
defend his own right, or to attempt the recovery of it, when it has been 
unjustly wrested from him. 
  17. "Then Jacob rose up." The departure of Jacob Moses afterwards more 
fully relates, he now only briefly says that "he rose up;" by which he 
means, that as soon as he could obtain the consent of his wives to go 
with him, he yielded to no other obstacles. Herein appears the manly 
strength and constancy of his mind. For Moses leaves many things to be 
reflected upon by his readers; and especially that intermediate period, 
during which the holy man was doubtless agitated with a multiplicity of 
cares. He had believed that his exile from home would be only for a 
short time: but, deprived of the sight of his parents and of his native 
soil during twenty years, he suffered many things so severe and bitter, 
that the endurance of them might have rendered him callous, or, at 
least, might have so oppressed him as to have consumed the remnant of 
his life. He was now verging towards old age, and the coldness of old 
age produces tardiness. Yet the flight for which he was preparing was 
not free from danger. Therefore it was necessary that he should be armed 
with the spirit of fortitude, in order that the vigour and alacrity of 
which Moses speaks, might cause him to hasten his steps. And since we 
read that the departure of the holy man was effected by stealth, and was 
attended with discredit; let us learn, whenever God abases us, to turn 
our minds to such examples as this. 
  19. "And Rachel had stolen." Although the Hebrews sometimes call those 
images "seraphim," which are not set forth as objects of worship: yet 
since this term is commonly used in an ill sense, I do not doubt that 
they were the household gods of Laban. Even he himself, shortly 
afterwards, expressly calls them his gods. It appears hence how great is 
the propensity of the human mind to idolatry: since in all ages this 
evil has prevailed; namely, that men seek out for themselves visible 
representations of God. From the death of Noah not yet two hundred years 
had elapsed; Shem had departed but a little while before; his teaching, 
handed down by tradition, ought most of all to have flourished among the 
posterity of Terah; because the Lord had chosen this family to himself, 
as the only sanctuary on earth in which he was to be worshipped in 
purity. The voice of Shem himself was sounding in their ears until the 
death of Abraham.; yet now, from Terah himself, the common filth of 
superstition inundated this place, while the patriarch Shem was still 
living and speaking. And though there is no doubt that he endeavoured, 
with all his power, to bring back his descendants to a right mind, we 

see what was his success. It is not indeed to be believed, that Bethuel 
had been entirely ignorant of the call of Abraham; yet neither he, with 
his family, was, on that account, withdrawn from this vanity. Holy Jacob 
also had not been silent during twenty years, but had endeavoured, by 
counsel and admonition, to correct these gross vices, but in vain; 
because superstition, in its violent course, prevailed. Therefore, that 
idolatry is almost innate in the human mind, the very antiquity of its 
origin bears witness. And that it is so firmly fixed there as scarcely 
to be capable of being uprooted, shows its obstinacy. But it is still 
more absurd, that not even Rachel could be healed of this contagion, in 
so great a length of time. She had often heard her husband speaking of 
the true and genuine worship of God: yet she is so addicted to the 
corruptions which she had imbibed from her childhood, that she is ready 
to infect the land chosen by God with them. She imagines that, with her 
husband, she is following God as her leader, and at the same time takes 
with her the idols by which she would subvert his worship. It is even 
possible that by the excessive indulgence of his beloved wife, Jacob 
might give too much encouragement to such superstitions. Wherefore, let 
pious fathers of families learn to use their utmost diligence that no 
stain of evil may remain in their wives or children. Some 
inconsiderately excuse Rachel, on the ground that, by a pious theft, she 
wished to purge her father's house from idols. But if this had been her 
design, why, in crossing the Euphrates, did she not cast away these 
abominations? Why did she not, after her departure, explain to her 
husband what she had done? But there is no need of conjecture, since, 
from the sequel of the history, it is manifest that the house of Jacob 
was polluted with idols, even to the time of the violation of Dinah. It 
was not, then, the piety of Rachel, but her insane hankering after 
superstition which impelled her to the theft: because she thought that 
God could not be worshipped but through idols; for this is the source of 
the disease, that since men are carnal, they imagine God to be carnal 
  20. "And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban." By the Hebrew form of 
expression, "stole away the heart of Laban," Moses shows that Jacob 
departed privately, or by stealth, unknown to his father-in-law. 
Meanwhile, he wishes to point out to what straits Jacob was reduced, so 
that he had no hope of deliverance but in flight. For Laban had 
determined to hold him all his life as a captive, as if he had been a 
slave bound to the soil, or sentenced to the mines. Therefore let us 
also learn, by his example, when the Lord calls us, courageously to 
strive against every kind of obstacle, and not to be surprised if many 
arduous difficulties oppose themselves against us. 
  22. "And it was told Laban." The Lord gave to his servant the interval 
of a three-days' journey, so that having passed the Euphrates, he might 
enter the boundaries of the promised land. And perhaps, in the mean 
time, he cooled the rage of Laban, the assault of which, in its first 
heat, might have been intolerable severe. By afterward permitting Jacob 
to be intercepted in the midst of his journey, God intended to tender 
his own interposition the more illustrious. It seemed desirable that 
Jacob's course should not be interrupted, and that he should not be 
filled with alarm by the hostile approach of his father-in-law; but when 
Laban, like a savage wild beast, breathing nothing but slaughter, is 
suddenly restrained by the Lord, this was far more likely to confirm the 
faith of the holy man, and therefore far more useful to him. For, as in 
the very act of giving assistance, the power of God shone forth more 
clearly; so, relying on divine help, he passed more courageously through 
remaining trials. Whence we learn, that those perturbations which, at 
the time, are troublesome to us, yet tend to our salvation, if only we 
obediently submit to the will of God; who purposely thus tries us, that 
he may indeed show more fully the care which he takes of us. It was a 
sad and miserable sight, that Jacob, taking so large a family with him, 
should flee as if his conscience had accused him of evil: but it was far 
more bitter and more formidable, that Laban, intent on his destruction, 
should threaten his life. Yet the method of his deliverance, which is 
described by Moses, was more illustrious than any victory. For God, 
descending from heaven to bring assistance to his servant, places 
himself between the parties, and in a moment assuages the indomitable 
fury with which Laban was inflamed. 
  23. "And pursued him seven days' journey." Since the cruelty of Laban 
was now appeased, or at least bridled, he did not dare severely to 
threaten; but laying aside his ferocity, he descended to feigned and 
hypocritical blandishments. He complains that injury had been done him, 
because he had been kept in ignorance of Jacob's departure, whom he 
would rather leave sent forth with customary tokens of joy, in token of 
his paternal affection. Thus hypocrites, when the power of inflicting 
injury is taken away from them, heap false complaints upon the good and 
simple, as if the blame rested with them. Wherefore, if at any time 
wicked and perfidious men, when they have unjustly harassed us, put 
forward some pretext of equity on their own part, we must bear with the 
iniquity; not because a just defense is to be entirely omitted; but 
because we find it inevitable that perverse men, ever ready to speak 
evil, will shamelessly cast upon us the blame of crimes of which we are 
innocent. Meanwhile, we must prudently guard against giving them the 
occasion against us which they seek. 
  29. "It is in the power of my hand." The Hebrew phrase is different, 
"my land is to power;" yet the meaning is clear, that Laban declares he 
is ready to take vengeance. Some expound the words thus: "my hand is to 
God;" but from other places it appears that the word "el" is taken for 
power. But Laban, inflated with foolish boasting, contradicts himself; 
for whereas he had been forbidden by God to attempt anything against 
Jacob, where was the power of which he boasted? We see, therefore, he 
precipitates himself by a blind impulse, as if, at his own pleasure, he 
could do anything against the purpose of God. For when he perceives that 
God is opposed to him, he yet does not hesitate to glory in his own 
strength; and why is this, unless he aimed at being superior to God? 
Finally; pride is always the companion of unbelief; so that unbelievers, 
although vanquished, yet cease not impetuously to rise up against God. 
To this they add another sin, that they complain of being unjustly 
oppressed by God. 
  "But the God of your father." Why does he not also acknowledge God as 
his own God, unless because Satan had so fascinated his mind already, 
that he chose rather to wander in darkness than to turn to the light 
presented before him? Willingly or unwillingly, he is compelled to yield 
to the God of Abraham; and yet he defrauds him of the glory which is 
due, by retaining those fictitious deities by which he had been 
deceived. We see then that the ungodly, even when they have had proof of 
the power of God, yet do not entirely submit themselves to his 
authority. Wherefore, when God manifests himself to us, we must also 
seek from heaven the spirit of meekness, which shall bend and subdue us 
to obedience unto himself. 
  30. "Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?" The second head of 
accusation which is alleged against Jacob is, that he had not departed 
through love to his country, nor for any just and probable cause; but 
that, in fact, he was implicated in an act of robbery. Heavy and 
disgraceful charge, of which Jacob was far from being guilty! But we 
learn hence, that no one can live so innocently in the world, but he 
must sometimes bear undeserved reproach and marks of infamy. Whenever 
this may happen to us, let that precious promise sustain us, that the 
Lord, in his own time, will bring forth our innocence as the morning 
light. (Ps. 37: 6.) For by this artifice Satan attempts to seduce us 
from the practice of well-doing, when, without any fault of ours, we are 
traduced by false calumnies. And since the world is ungrateful, it often 
makes the very worst return for acts of kindness. Some, indeed, are 
found, who, with heroic magnanimity, despise unfavourable reports, 
because they esteem the testimony of a good conscience more highly than 
depraved popular opinion. But it behoves the faithful to look to God, 
that their conscience may never fail them. We see that Laban calls his 
gods "teraphim", not because he thought the Deity was enclosed within 
them; but because he worshipped these images in honour of the gods. Or 
rather, because, when he was about to pay homage to God, he turned 
himself to those images. At this day, by the sole difference of a word, 
the Papists think they skilfully effect their escape, because they do 
not attribute to idols the name of gods. But the subterfuge is 
frivolous, since in reality they are altogether alike; for they pour 
forth before pictures or statues whatever honour they acknowledge to be 
due to the one God. To the ancient idolaters the pretext was not 
wanting, that by a metonymy they styled those images gods, which were 
formed for the sake of representing God. 
  31. "And Jacob answered." He briefly refutes each head of the 
accusation: with respect to his secret departure, he modestly excuses 
himself, as having been afraid that he might be deprived of his wives. 
And in this way he takes part of the blame to himself, deeming it 
sufficient to exonerate himself from the malice of which he was thought 
to be guilty. He does not dispute, as a casuist, whether it was lawful 
to depart by stealth; but leaves it undetermined whether or not his fear 
was culpable. Let all the children of God learn to imitate this modesty, 
lest through an immoderate desire to vindicate their own reputation, 
they should rush into contentions: just as we have seen many raise 
tragic scenes out of nothing, because they will not endure that any 
censure, however trifling, should be cast upon them. Jacob, therefore, 
was content with this excuse, that he had done nothing wickedly. His 
defense on the other charge follows, in which Jacob shows his 
confidence, by adjudicating the person to death, with whom the things 
stolen should be found. He speaks, indeed, from his heart; but if the 
truth had then been discovered, he must, of necessity, have been ashamed 
of his rashness. Therefore, though he was not conscious of guilt, he yet 
singled through excessive haste, in not having diligently inquired 
before he pronounced concerning a doubtful matter. He ought to have 
called both his wives and his children, and to have inquired of each how 
the affair stood. He was, indeed, persuaded, that his family was so well 
conducted, that no suspicion of the theft had ever entered into his 
mind; but he ought not so to have relied upon his own discipline, as to 
be free from fear when a crime is alleged against his family. Wherefore, 
let us learn to suspend our judgment in matters of which we are 
ignorant, lest we should repent too late of our temerity. We may add, 
that hence it happened, that the pollution which he might have 
exterminated immediately, continued still longer in the family of Jacob. 
  32. "That Rachel had stolen them." Moses relates the manner in which 
Rachel had concealed her theft; namely, by sitting on the idols, and 
pretending the custom of women as her excuse. It is a question, whether 
she did this through shame or pertinacity. It was disgraceful to be 
caught in the act of theft; she also dreaded the severe sentence of her 
husband. Yet to me it appears probable that fear did not so much 
influence her as the obstinate love of idolatry. For we know how greatly 
superstition infatuates the mind. Therefore, as if she had obtained an 
incomparable treasure, she thinks that she must attempt anything rather 
than allow herself to be deprived of it. Moreover, she chooses rather to 
incur the displeasure of her father and her husband, than to relinquish 
the object of her superstition. To her stratagem she also adds lying 
words, so that she deserves manifold censure. 
  36. "And Jacob was wrath, and chode with Laban." Jacob again acts 
amiss, in contending with Laban about a matter not sufficiently known, 
and in wrongfully fastening on him the charge of calumny. For although 
he supposed all his family to be free from blame, yet he was deceived by 
his own negligence. He acts, indeed, with moderation, because in 
expostulating with Laban he does not use reproaches; but in this he is 
not to be excused, that he undertakes the cause of his whole family, 
when they were not exempt from blame. If any one should make the 
objection to this statement, that Jacob was constrained by fear, because 
Laban had brought with him a great band of companions: the circumstances 
themselves show, that his mind was thus influenced by moderation rather 
than by fear. For he boldly resists, and shows no sign of fear; only he 
abstains from the insolence of evil speaking. He then adds that he had 
just cause of accusation against Laban; not because he wished to rise in 
a spirit of recrimination against his father-in-law; but because it was 
right that the kindred and associates of Laban should be made witnesses 
of all that had passed, in order that, by the protracted patient 
endurance of Jacob, his integrity might be the more manifest. Jacob also 
calls to mind, not only that he had been a faithful keeper of the flock, 
but also that his labour had been rendered prosperous by the blessing of 
God; he adds, besides, that he had been held accountable for all losses. 
In this he insinuates against Laban the charge of great injustice: for 
it was not the duty of Jacob voluntarily to inflame the avarice and 
rapacity of his father-in-law, by attempting to soothe him; but he 
yielded, by constraint, to his injuries. When he says that "sleep 
departed from his eyes," he not only intimates that he passed sleepless 
nights, but that he had so contended against nature itself, as to 
defraud himself of necessary repose. 
  42. "Except the God of my father." Jacob here ascribes it to the 
favour of God, that he was not about to return home entirely empty; 
whereby he not only aggravates the sin of Laban, but meets an objection 
which might seem at variance with his complaints. He therefore denies 
that he has been made rich by the kindness of his father-in-law; but 
testifies that he has been favourably regarded by the Lord: as if he had 
said, "I owe it not to thee, that thou hast not further injured me; but 
God, who is propitious to me, has withstood thee." Now, since God is not 
the defender of unfaithfulness, nor is wont to help the wicked, the 
integrity of Jacob may be ascertained from the fact that God interposed 
as his vindicator. It is also to be observed, that by expressly 
distinguishing the God of Abraham from all fictitious gods, he declares 
that there is no other true God: by which he, at the same time, proves 
himself to be a truly pious worshipper. The expression "the fear of 
Isaac," is to be taken passively for the God whom Isaac revered; just 
as, on account of the reverence due to him, he is called "the fear and 
the dread" of his people. A similar expression occurs immediately after, 
in the same chapter. Now the pious, while they fear God, are by no means 
horror-struck at his presence, like the reprobates; but trembling at his 
judgment, they walk circumspectly before him. 
  "God has seen my affliction, and the labour of my hands." This was 
spoken from a pious feeling that God would bring help to him when 
afflicted, if he should conduct himself with fidelity and honesty. 
Therefore, in order that the Lord may sustain us with his favour, let us 
learn to discharge our duty rightly; let us not flee from our proper 
work; and let us not refuse to purchase peace by submitting to many 
inconveniences. Further, if they from whom we have deserved well treat 
us severely and unjustly, let us bear our cross in hope and in silence, 
until the Lord shall succour us: for he will never forsake us, as the 
whole Scripture testifies. But Jacob distinctly presses his 
father-in-law with his own confession. For why had God rebuked him, 
unless because he was persecuting an innocent man in defiance of justice 
and equity; for as I have lately intimated, it is abhorrent to the 
nature of God to favour evil and unjust causes. 
  43. "These daughters are my daughters." Laban begins now to speak in a 
manner very different from before: he sees that he has no farther ground 
of contention. Therefore, being convinced, he buries all strife, and 
glides into placid and amicable discourse. "Why," he asks, "should I be 
hostile to thee, when all things between us are common? Shall I rage 
against my own bowels? For both thy wives and thy children are my own 
blood; wherefore I ought to be affected towards you, as if you all were 
part of myself." He now answers like an honorable man. Whence, then, has 
this humanity so suddenly sprung up in the breast of him who lately had 
been hurried onward, without any respect to right or wrong, to ruin 
Jacob; unless it were, that he knew Jacob to have acted towards him with 
fidelity, and to have been at length compelled by necessity to adopt the 
design of departing by stealth? And this was an indication that he was 
not absolutely desperate: for we may find many persons of such abandoned 
impudence, that though overcome and silenced by arguments, they yet do 
not cease to rush headlong in insane rebellion. From this passage we 
infer, that although avarice and other sinful affections take away 
judgment and soundness of mind; there yet remains a knowledge of truth 
engraven on the souls of men, which being stirred up emits 
scintillations, to prevent the universal triumph of depravity. If any 
one before had said, "What does thou, Laban? What brutality is this to 
rage against thine own bowels?" the remonstrance would not have been 
heard, for he burned with headstrong fury. But now he voluntarily 
suggests this to himself, and proclaims what he would have been 
unwilling to hear from another. It appears, then, that the light of 
justice which now breaks forth, had been smothered in his mind. In 
short, it is self-love alone which blinds us; because we all judge 
aright where personal interests are not concerned. If, however, it 
should so happen that we are for a time in perplexity, we must still 
seek to obey the dictates of reason and justice. But if any one hardens 
himself in wickedness, the interior and hidden knowledge, of which I 
have spoken, will yet remain engraven in his mind, and will suffice for 
his condemnation. 
  44. "Let us make a covenant, I and thou." Laban here acts as men 
conscious of guilt are wont to do, when they wish to guard themselves 
against revenge: and this kind of trepidation and anxiety is the just 
reward of evil deeds. Besides, wicked men always judge of others from 
their own disposition: whence it happens that they have fears on all 
sides. Moses before relates a somewhat similar example, when Abimelech 
made a covenant with Isaac. Wherefore we must take the greater care, if 
we desire to possess tranquil minds, that we act sincerely and without 
injury towards our neighbours. Meanwhile Moses shows how placable Jacob 
was, and how easily he permitted himself to be conciliated. He had 
endured very many and grievous wrongs; but now, forgetting all, he 
freely stretches out the hand of kindness: and so far is he from being 
pertinacious in defending his own right, that he, in a manner, 
anticipates Laban himself, being the first to take a stone, and set it 
up for a pillar. And truly it becomes the children of God, not only with 
alacrity to embrace peace, but even ardently to search for it, as we are 
commanded in Psalm 34: 14. As to the heap of stones, it was always the 
practice to use some ceremony which might confirm the compact on both 
sides; on this occasion a heap of stones is raised, in order that the 
memory of the covenant might be transmitted to posterity. That Jacob 
took part in this was a proof, as we have said, of a mind disposed to 
peace. He freely complained, indeed, when it was right to do so; but 
when the season of pacification arrived, he showed that he cherished no 
rancour. Moses, in relating afterwards that "they did eat there, upon 
the heap," does not observe the order of the history. For, on both 
sides, the conditions of the covenant were agreed upon and declared, 
before the feast was celebrated: but this figure of speech (as we have 

(continued in part 11...)

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