Daily Word

Born cheat | Genesis 30:31-36

31 “What wages do you want?” Laban asked again.

Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. 32 Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages. 33 In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.”

34 “All right,” Laban replied. “It will be as you say.” 35 But that very day Laban went out and removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted or had white patches, and all the black sheep. He placed them in the care of his own sons, 36 who took them a three-days’ journey from where Jacob was. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for the rest of Laban’s flock.

Genesis 30:31-36 (NLT)

I want nothing

The negotiations begin. Laban asks Jacob to “name his price.” He did the same when Jacob asked for Rachel in marriage (Genesis 29:15). Jacob first says “Don’t give me anything.” My guess is that he didn’t want to be beholden to Laban. But then he asks for the non-white animals as his wages. Why the speckled and spotted? It would be easy to identify whose are Laban’s and whose are Jacob’s. Very clever. “As well, Laban liked the deal because the odds were set in his favor.” (enduringword.com

But why not take the pure white ones? Laban probably wouldn’t go for that deal. My guess is the white / pure ones were considered more valuable. David Guzik adds, “Jacob may have proposed [in] this arrangement because he was willing to trust in God.” (enduringword.com)

Born cheat

It seems that before Jacob could go through the flocks (per the agreement) and take the non-white animals,   Laban takes all the non-white animals and moves them a 3-day’s distance away from Jacob and has his own sons take care of them. The rest, the white / pure ones, he left in Jacob’s care. What a cheat! He basically agreed to the terms then stole all the animals that would have become Jacob’s. But Jacob, the schemer, knew Laban would do something like that. Not to worry, he has his own trick up his sleeve as we’ll see tomorrow.

Translation note: The NLT and ESV help us see that he did it to cheat Jacob (“But that very day”). The AMP actually adds “[secretly]” as a suggested word to make it clear. In the NASB it’s not so clear. That caused me to initially interpret the story completely differently.


  • Have you been cheated in business or relationship? How did you handle it? We were cheated out of a large sum of money from a renter who took advantage of COVID laws. Thankfully, we had previously had issues with the house and given it over to the Lord; we simply managed it. In reality, it was already His and we just acknowledged that fact. The incident didn’t phase us, by God’s grace.
Black sheep, white sheep. Image from Pxfuel.com

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