Once it came to pass, that Laban couldn’t find his Teraphim on the person or belongings of Jacob, his wives, children and servants, Jacob jumped into milking every bit of what had just happened. He accused Laban of not treating him fairly for the twenty years he worked for him, serving “… fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock: and you have changed my wages ten times” (Genesis 31 verse 41). Laban, who wasn’t going to also easily accept culpability for the charges thus leveled against him, debunked the allegations, claiming that he couldn’t have willingly dealt wickedly towards Jacob, seeing as he’s married to his daughters, and their children, including all of Jacob’s flocks which he considered were his as well, or that Jacob couldn’t have acquired without him.
In the end, they both agreed to make a covenant to the effect that neither of the parties will pass a heap of stone and pillar they both had set up, to the other for harm, with the understanding that Jacob wasn’t to harm Laban’s daughters, nor take wives besides his daughters, with YAHWEH as witness between them. In what may appear as Laban trying to protect the interests of his daughters with Jacob, now that it seems that he may not now be able to control how Jacob treats his daughters from the distance that was about to be created between them. Afterwards “Jacob offered a sacrifice in the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread, and they did eat bread, and spent all night in the mountain” (v.54). That was how the feud between Laban and Jacob was resolved, and Laban left with his entourage back to his base, after kissing his sons and daughters, and blessing them.
It is difficult to see how this couldn’t have degenerated into an ugly scenario, if YAHWEH hadn’t intervened in the dream by night to Laban. Even Jacob alluded to it in verse 42, while rebuking Laban for his treatment of him, for the twenty years he served the latter. Jacob endured all that Laban threw at him, while he focused solely on his prize. He could’ve given in to frustration from his employer and lost everything, or achieved far below his expectations but he held on till the right time, and like I earlier pointed out, when he decided he’d had enough, having achieved his set aims and objectives, and decided to quit, even YAHWEH (who must’ve seen all of the injustice meted out to Jacob but still allowed him go through it, while it lasted) sanctioned it, then went ahead to temper Laban’s anger towards his son-in-law, to defuse tensions between the parties.
This is why we shouldn’t see periods where it seems YAHWEH is silent to our plight, as though HE’d abandoned us. We should rather consider the situation to see if indeed there’s a lesson HE intends for us to learn in our hardships or times of need, that’ll be crucial in shaping the person we become tomorrow, for indeed no one in position of authority can genuinely feel some empathy towards subordinates if s/he hadn’t once walked in their shoes. Unfortunately, because of the pervasive “theology of NOW” and “doctrine of instant gratification” of our days, where every untowardness is viewed as a curse that must be escaped, people hardly see challenges as what should be experienced, rather one that must be escaped from, and swiftly too for that matter. Hence, if this church isn’t providing “ònà àbáyo” (Yoruba for “means of escape”), you’d see them leaving for another church, and then to the next, even change religion, until something happens that they consider the desired change, till the next challenge comes up, and the cycle is once again repeated.
This part of Jacob’s journey, is something many of us employees can learn from, especially in countries where labour laws, are not worth the paper they are written on; to always focus on the end game, such that whatever hardship or tribulation one suffers as an employee of an organization, or apprentice, care should be taken not to yield to anger, or be tempted to perform below ones’ capacity, but rather while diligently, efficiently and effectively performing ones’ duty, plan an exit strategy (if remaining there in the long term begins to look and feel less tenable by the day) that won’t leave one stranded in between jobs, or even worse, if the idea isn’t to strike out on one’s own. I must at this juncture celebrate Mrs. Gloria Egbedi (whom I’ve already congratulated), who has started her own business, consulting on something she’s worked at for eleven years as an employee, and like Jacob, she left without burning bridges. This is worthy of emulation. Mazel Tov!
– Genesis Chapter 31 Verses 41 – 55, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993).