Daily Word

Jacob lays into Laban | Genesis 31:36-42

36 Then Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 37 You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!

38 “For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39 If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.

40 “I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41 Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42 In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”

Genesis 31:36-42 (NLT)

Jacob lays into Laban

Laban just insulted Jacob by accusing him of stealing his household gods. Jacob challenges him to prove it and Laban comes up short (through the deception of Rachel). Jacob now is fire spitin’ mad. The first part of v36 in ESV reads, “Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban”. He really laid into him. Can you picture the scene? The shoe is on the other foot. Laban must have been completely humiliated – and in front of everyone.

Public accounting

Talk about airing dirty laundry! Jacob gives a public accounting of all the wrongs he suffered from Laban these past 20 years:

  • None of his flock ever miscarried – which would have to be a miraculous work of the Lord.
  • Never ate any of his flocks. He didn’t get hungry and decide to steal even just one little lamb for a meal.
  • If one was ever killed by a wild animal, Jacob took the loss and replaced it with one from his own flock. Basically, all Laban’s flocks are accounted for, with none missing.
  • Around the clock he was on call shepherding (unless he was busy making one of his 12 children)!
  • He worked 14 years for the two daughters (and two slave wives) plus another 6 for a flock of his own.

Jacob did a pretty darn good job caring for Laban’s flocks and the Lord continued to bless but it seems Laban was never content and kept cheating Jacob. For Laban, the jig is up.

God’s role

Finally, Jacob acknowledges God and His protection that kept Laban from driving him away empty-handed much earlier. Jacob calls a spade a spade: “Laban, you accused me of running away and of even stealing your gods, but the Lord has rebuked you!”


  • It’s always comforting to know that the Lord is always watching and caring for us as a Good Shepherd cares for his sheep.
Angry man yelling. Image from Pxfuel.com

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