Friday, March 19, 2010

Trickery by the Tricked

Gen. 30:25-31:55

Jacob is ready to leave his father-in-law's employ.  He has labored for the 14 required years.  But if he leaves now, all he takes with him are his family and servants.  In those 14 years, he has earned nothing for himself (aside from some bikering brides and boys).  He makes Laban a deal.  In a country where sheep are white and goats are black, he says he will take all the animals which are not correctly colored.

Laban agrees to the deal but then has his sons remove all the spotted animals from the herds and take them away where Jacob can't get to them.  Jacob is tricked again, first in the matter of marrying Rachel and getting Leah instead which forces him into another seven years of labor, now this.  What a scumbag this Laban character is.

But Jacob is not dismayed.  He knows exactly how he's going to increase his herd.  Apparently Jacob has taken "Advanced Husbandry" from the local college, because he knows the animals will "pick up" the colors they are exposed to at the places they drink and mate.  He faces black goats toward white birch bark and white sheep toward black goats.  Voila!  He gets streaked, speckled and spotted animals.  Plus, he only does this with the stronger animals, leaving Laban with only the runts.  Pretty smart, huh?

Finally, Laban's sons are fed up with Jacob's herd getting stronger and bigger.  Jacob percieves there's been an attitude change and he finally gets the "go ahead" from God and makes plans to leave in secret.  He consults his wives and they're all for it.  Their father has mistreated them, too, and they are ready to do whatever it takes to get away.  Rachel even steals Laban's household gods.  Just a guess but perhaps she wanted them because these gods "guaranteed" the fertility of the females whether human or animal.

Jacob waits for Laban to leave for a three day festival then flees with his wives, children and herds.  Laban chases them down, but he cares more about the household gods which have been stolen than for his daughters and grandchildren.  Jacob, completely unaware of Rachel's theft of the gods, tells Laban, "Go ahead and search...and you can kill anyone who's stolen your property."  A further deception when Rachel hides the gods in her saddle and tells her father she can't stand in his presense due to her "monthly flow." 

Jacob and Laban agree they can't trust each other, so they build an altar on a high point and basically say, "This is mine, that is yours.  Don't cross this line.  God will bear witness and keep the peace between us because I don't trust you any more than you trust me."

Jacob, the one who has cheated his brother out of his inheritance, has been tricked and tricked and tricked again by his father in law.  He fights back using his brains.  Rachel fights back by stealing and lying (she's her father's daughter, that one).    And you know what strikes me most, the Bible makes no editorial comment about any of it.  There is no denounciation of the lies and deciept, no punishment for the crimes, nothing to say, "When faced with those who treat you poorly, this is how you handle it in a righteous manner."  Doesn't that seem weird to you?

Isn't the Bible supposed to be a book about do's and don'ts?  Thou shalts and thou shalt nots?  Why isn't there something here for us to learn the Godly way to handle cheaters?

Because God has not given the law yet; He has not spelled out the rules of life for his people.  Man is living by listening to his conscience; that inner voice which says, "This is right; that is wrong."  God's word is merely recording the events and letting you make the judgements about what is good and what is not...forcing you to listen to the spirit inside you.

However, it doesn't leave us with nothing on the subject of cheaters.  Laban and Jacob's "peace treaty" is made before God.  If nothing else, we learn the way to handle cheats is to outwit them by using common sense and letting God be the judge of who is crossing the line.

Until next time,

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