Sunday, December 13, 2009

Laban and Jacob Part -- Genesis 31:54-55

Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

After swearing to the covenant with Laban, Jacob offers a sacrifice on the mountain they were on. This sacrifice likely involved peace offerings. What is interesting here is the idea that making peace with one’s friends or relatives can only really be maintained if we are at peace with God. It is God that does indeed make the reconciliation work between man and man. And with the sacrifice of course comes a celebratory love-meal, a practice that ratified the covenant and one that had been going on for some time in the region.

Earlier in this chapter (vs. 25) we learn that Jacob and his kinsmen had camped in the hill country and that is where Laban had caught up with them. Later in verse 37 we read that both Jacob’s and Laban’s kinsmen were with them as they rehashed what had happened between them in the twenty years that had just passed. In verse 46 after Jacob agrees to the covenant, he asks his kinsmen to erect the memorial for it. They were either there all the time, or they were called back to do this. We were not able to discern which it was. And verse 54 does not help us either. While it states that Jacob “called his kinsmen to the meal”, that does not imply they were not present when they were called. In fact, I would suggest that either his servants and/or possibly some of his kinsmen who had helped build the memorial, were also instrumental in the preparation for both the sacrifice that Jacob made and the meal he was about to host.
‘His’ kinsmen is not just a reference to those on his own side of the family, but included all of Laban’s family and kinsmen. In fact, the celebration went on into the night and they all ended up spending the night together on the mountain. Making peace with one’s adversary was indeed a great cause for real joy and extensive ceremony.

Finally, in the morning, and here comes the most practical, non-ceremonious demonstration of what had occurred, they part friends. It is fair to assume that Laban and his kinsmen also stayed on the mountain that night with Jacob and his relatives and household. In the early morning, Laban gets up and kisses his grandsons and granddaughters, blesses each one, and says good-bye. No matter how tough a person you are, good-byes to your grandchildren with little chance of seeing them again or not for a long time is very difficult. I go through that every time I visit my grandsons in South Carolina, knowing it will usually be three months before I see them again. Laban’s experience, I am sure had an emotional impact on him. The bible is not really clear as to whether or not the word ‘daughters’ in this particular instance included Leah and Rachel. I believe that in light of the covenant just witnessed and its celebration, Laban was also loving, at least in demonstrative actions, towards his two daughters when he said good-bye. Hopefully, they were gracious enough to return his show of affection, although the text is silent on that. All it says is that Laban left and returned to his place. In peace.

I know from personal experience that sometimes when one is at odds with another, and a peace accord has been reached, the best thing that can follow is distance and space between them. Establishing that distance or space, having left in peace, leaves it wide open for a coming closer together sometime in the future as the Lord may bring about. So be it. Laban and Jacob parted in peace.

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1 comment:

  1. ...responding to the "sun. Dec. 13, 2009" epistoli...when one makes peace even if one has been wronged (if you need a dump truck or a train load of is there as much as you need)...and if you forgive you do your own self a magnitude of a will provide for the inside of your physical body health of epic proportions!. I know!