“Laban said, “What should I give you?” “Nothing,” answered Jacob, “just do this one thing for me: once more I will pasture your flock and take care of it. I will also go through the flock and pick out every speckled, spotted or brown sheep, and every speckled or spotted goat; these and their offspring will be my wages.”-Genesis 30:31-32
So after putting in 14 years of faithful service for his two wives, Jacob is itching to leave.
However, Laban is reluctant to let Joseph go given how much he has prospered due to his labors.
He petitions Joseph to stay saying that he has been much blessed because of the “Lord“.
This should not be misconstrued as a statement of faith.
Laban is a full-fledged pagan who believes in many Gods.
In his mind, Jacob’s God is just one out of the many countless “gods” in existence that he worships.
This statement of Jacob’s is just a bit of mid eastern apple polishing.
Jacob agrees to stay under the condition that he gets to keep all of the stripped and speckled sheep and goats.
It would seem that Jacob is on the losing end of this negotiation because sheep were usually pure white and goats were normally black or dark brown.
However, the opposite turns out to be true, as the increase of Jacob’s flock increases to the point where it becomes an embarrassment to Laban.
There is much debate concerning the poplar rod method Jacob used to increase his flock.
Some have called it an ancient form of genetic breeding.
Others have claimed that it was just superstition and it was God working behind the scenes ensuring that Jacob’s flocks would supernaturally increase.
There is one interesting part of this negotiation that is overlooked if one doesn’t understand the original Hebrew.
During the negotiation, Jacob tells Laban that he can keep the white sheep.
Now the Hebrew word for white is “Laban“.
So in a kind of twisted form of irony and negotiation, Jacob informs Laban that he can keep his “own” sheep and then will proceed to beat him at his own game.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN GENESIS CHAPTER 31