After giving a three-day head start, a servant broke the news to Laban that Jacob and his caravan had gone. Laban enlisted some of his close family members to help him give chase. After seven days, they caught up with them in the hills of Gilead.
The night before he was to confront Jacob, God visited Laban in a dream.
“Don’t speak good or evil to Jacob,” God said.
In the morning, Laban caught up with Jacob and his camp and said, “Why’d you steal my daughters as if they were spoils of war? Why’d you sneak away behind my back? I would have thrown you a ‘going away’ party with music and dancing. You didn’t even let me say goodbye to my daughters and sons. I came to take back what is mine and teach you a lesson, but the God of Isaac told me not to speak good or evil to you. Why’d you leave like that?”
“I was afraid,” Jacob answered. “I thought you’d keep your daughters from me, using violence if necessary.”
“That’s understandable,” Laban said. “But regardless of how badly you’re ready to go home, why’d you steal my gods?”
Jacob scratched his head. “You’re mistaken. If anyone stole anything of yours, then I’ll have them put to death.”
Jacob took a couple of steps back and raised his voice so that the entire camp could hear. “Given all these witnesses, show me what I have that belongs to you.”
Laban began a search through Jacob’s camp. He went first into Leah’s tent, turning over pillows and blankets, rummaging through baskets and satchels. Finding nothing, he searched the shelters of the maids and other servants.
“Excuse me,” Laban said, as he entered Rachel’s tent.
Rachel was sitting on the saddle where the stolen idols were hidden. Laban searched the tent from top to bottom but to no avail.
Rachel said, “Forgive me for not getting up, Father. It’s that time of the month.”
Laban waved her off, distracted by the task at hand. When he exited Rachel’s tent, he was confronted by an impatient Jacob.
“Tell me what I’ve done wrong,” Jacob scolded Laban. “Give me some justification for coming out here to give me more trouble. You’ve searched my camp and have come up empty.”
Laban stood speechless before Jacob, who wasn’t finished with his tirade.
“For twenty years I have served you. Your flocks and herds never miscarried. I’ve never eaten your rams. Whenever one of your animals was torn to shreds by a wild creature, I took the loss from my stock. I slaved through heat and cold and sleepless nights for twenty long years, fourteen years for your daughters and six years for your livestock, and at every turn, you changed the condition of payment. If God hadn’t been with me, I’d have lost everything by now. So if I were you, I’d take last night’s divine rebuke to heart!”
Inspiration: Genesis 31