Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Laban Searches For His Idols -- Genesis 31:33-35

So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah's tent and entered Rachel's tent. Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel's saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them. She said to her father, "Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me." So he searched but did not find the household idols.

Having been given permission by Jacob to try and find his idols among Jacob’s caravan, Laban begins to search starting with Jacob’s personal tent, then Leah’s, and then the tent of the two maids belonging to Leah and Rachel. As was to be expected he found nothing.

What is not known is why he left Rachel’s tent last. It could have been coincidence. It could have been location. Nevertheless, that is what he did. What is not clear from the text, however, is the order in which he checked the first three tents. While the order given first is that of Laban checking Jacob, Leah, and the maids’ tent, the passage goes on to say he went into Rachel’s tent right after leaving Leah’s tent. One possible explanation is that he had gone back Leah’s tent for something before going on to Rachel’s tent.

Having had sufficient time to figure out what to do with the stolen idols, Rachel put them in her camel’s saddle and sat on them in her tent. Laban enters her tent and goes searching through it. I wonder if he and Rachel exchanged any greetings or other words. What an experience that must have been to have one’s father come into your room after you’ve left his household without saying goodbye, to look for something you may have stolen? It was bad that you had left unannounced. It was worse that you possibly may have been the one that had stolen his idols. To that, add the fact that he cannot find anything in your room, and you have one very angry father.

Rachel tries to ease the tension by speaking first. She asks Laban not to be angry that she does not stand up to greet him as would have been expected of daughters when their father enters their presence or when a visitor visits them in their home. But her excuse was possibly another lie, namely, that she was in the midst of her menstrual period. Respecting that, Laban continued his search speechless and found nothing of what he was looking for. Once again, God protects His own for His plans regardless of their short-comings.

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  1. Anonymous8/12/09 17:22

    It is a given Laban would search Jacob's tent first, no matter where the tent was located. But then why was the order not the maids next then Leah, and last Rachel...could have been where the tents were placed, but one would think he would have checked the least trusted first, then on down...or could there been a trust issue with Leah? Then, when he checked Rachel's tent was Laban "hoping against hope" that he would not find them in her tent...then he let out a asigh of relief when he didn't find anything. Did he truly favor Rachel above all others? hmmmm.

  2. Interesting assumptions -- that Laban would have approached it from a least trustworthy person's tent first and then working his way down to the one whom he least expected and hoped didn't steal it.

    We'll never know this side of lie.

  3. Sorry, that last sentence should read, "We'll never know this side of life."