*[[Gen 31:31]] NET* “I left secretly because I was afraid!” Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought you might take your daughters away from me by force.
It’s a sad thing to see how a relationship like Jacob had with Laban would end up like this. They started out very warm towards each other. (Let’s go back to the past)
*Gen 29:12-15 NET* When Jacob explained to Rachel that he was a relative of her father and the son of Rebekah, she ran and told her father. When Laban heard this news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he rushed out to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban how he was related to him. Then Laban said to him, “You are indeed my own flesh and blood.” So Jacob stayed with him for a month. Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you work for me for nothing because you are my relative? Tell me what your wages should be.”
So what made the relationship this good terrible? Let’s identify them one by one. First would be DISHONESTY expressed by breaking of an agreement. *Gen 29:18-25 NET* Since Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, he said, “I’ll serve you seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban replied, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great. Finally Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time of service is up. I want to have marital relations with her.” So Laban invited all the people of that place and prepared a feast. In the evening he brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and Jacob had marital relations with her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) In the morning Jacob discovered it was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What in the world have you done to me! Didn’t I work for you in exchange for Rachel? Why have you tricked me?” Laban didn’t treat Jacob honestly. Let’s cite another example. *[[Gen 30:27-36]] NET* But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me on account of you.” He added, “Just name your wages – I’ll pay whatever you want.” “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The LORD has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?” So Laban asked, “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” Jacob replied, “but if you agree to this one condition, I will continue to care for your flocks and protect them: Let me walk among all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and the spotted or speckled goats. These animals will be my wages. My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.” So that day Laban removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care of his sons. Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, while Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.
Second would be the lack of repentance inside the relationship. After committing a grievous sin it would be great if the offender seeks to do an act of reconciliation towards the offended party. But it never happened with Laban’s interaction with Jacob.
Third would be the lack of loyalty from either one of the party involved. Loyalty must be present in both parties on order for the relationship to be great. Jacob gave his part of the loyalty deal but Laban didn’t. Let’s examine one event.
*Gen 31:1-2 NET* Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich at our father’s expense!” When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed.
Ok, during this event Jacob’s name was being put to the line. Laban’s sons charged him as a thief because of his prosperity. Now Laban had to make a decision here. Either to defend or protect Jacob’s name or take sides with Jacob’s enemies, in that case with his sons. This was a very hard decision in the part of Laban. Jacob though an honest guy is just a relative. But in spite of that Laban owed Jacob his loyalty as well because of their relationship. Again, Laban failed to show or chose not to show any form of loyalty towards Jacob by listening to his sons report instead of judging according to the life that Jacob lived before him.
Lastly is by being a parasite towards the other party. Laban knew only how to please himself – a very self centered man. He brought this kind of attitude to his relationship with Jacob. Laban didn’t think about Jacob’s welfare or Jacob’s family.
*[[Gen 31:14-15]] NET* Then Rachel and Leah replied to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? Hasn’t he treated us like foreigners? He not only sold us, but completely wasted the money paid for us!