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with suspicion and distrust. Indeed the latter felt that he could no longer dwell in Padan-aram with safety. The voice of the Lord bade him at once return to his native country. So he sent for Leah and Rachel to meet him in the fields where he was tending his flocks. There he told them that they must prepare for immediate departure. · I see,' he said, ' your father's countenance that it is not towards me as in former days; but the God of my father has been with me, and you know that with all my power I have served your father.' Then accusing Laban of deceit and injustice, he spoke of the Divine protection which was granted to him, and through which, in spite of the stratagems and frauds of Laban and his sons, he had obtained great wealth. Quite unconscious of the deep-laid schemes of their husband, Leah and Rachel readily agreed to follow him to the land of his birth, and spoke of their father with harshness: "Are we not regarded by him as strangers ? for he has sold us, and has also entirely eaten up our money. Indeed, all the wealth which God has taken from our father it belongs to us and to our children : and now whatever God has said to thee, do.'

Jacob proceeded forthwith to carry out his departure, or rather, his flight. The time was peculiarly favourable. Laban had gone forth to shear his sheep. Rachel, who still clung to the superstitious idolatry of her youth, took with her as a protection the Teraphim or house-gods which belonged to her father, and which she knew he valued highly. Secretly and in precipitate haste the caravan passed out of the city; first Leah and Rachel with their children; next their handmaids and their children, all sitting upon camels; and then followed Jacob with his train of servants, driving his vast herds and flocks before them. As their road lay westwards, they crossed the Euphrates, and turned their steps toward the range of the mountains of Gilead. On these rich pastures Jacob's herds

and flocks grazed for a time, whilst he pitched his tents and rested on the mountain.

In the mean time Laban had been informed of the flight: he at once set out in pursuit, and after a seven days' precipitate journey, he found Jacob and his companions in the region of Gilead. Here he halted for the night at the foot of the mountain, and was visited by an awe-inspiring vision. The Lord warned him that he should take care not to harm Jacob in any way. With this solemn bidding still ringing in his ears, Laban appeared before his son-inlaw. He was full of indignation and anger, and could with difficulty govern his passion. He burst forth directly into accusations, which were indeed well merited by Jacob's cunning conduct : What hast thou done, that thou hast deceived my heart, and carried away my daughters, like captives taken with the sword ?' He then upbraided him for having fled secretly and deceitfully; he said that Jacob had acted foolishly in not telling him his intentions, whereas he would willingly have sent him away with song and music; he had not even permitted him to kiss his children and grand-children before they left him, perhaps for ever. He added, with ill-repressed anger, that it would be in his power to do him injury; yet he refrained from revenge, because the God of Abraham had spoken to him in the night and had warned him against violence. And he concluded by urging that if Jacob had departed, because he longed for his father's home, it was certainly inexcusable that he had stolen his gods. Jacob, with a self-possession that never forsook him, was resolved not to humble himself before Laban. He knew that he had acted wrongly, but he pleaded falsely: - Indeed, I was afraid ; for I said, perhaps thou wouldst take by force thy daughters from me;' and then, conscious of his innocence with regard to the theft of the Teraphim, which Rachel had taken without his knowledge, he vehemently and

with uncalled-for exaggeration demanded justice of Laban : • With whomsoever,' he said, thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our kindred, search what is with me and take it to thee.' Laban's investigation for the treasured Teraphim was fruitless. Rachel had hidden away the image in the litter of her camel ; and the true daughter of a crafty father, the true wife of a crafty husband, had seated herself on the litter, and remained there sitting during the search. Now Jacob believed he had a right to burst forth into angry invectives against Laban : he had been wrongfully accused; his innocence was clear ; had he not been a good and faithful servant to Laban for twenty years? had he not increased the wealth of his kinsman by working for him incessantly and unweariedly? «Thus I was,' he exclaimed; “ in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes ; and thou hast changed my wages ten times : had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, been with me, indeed thou wouldst now have sent me away empty; God has seen the affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.' These last words of Jacob must have powerfully impressed Laban; they probably brought before him the solemn vision of the night, and he felt that he must bow before the will of the Lord, even if the agent of that Divine will was unworthy of the love and protection he enjoyed. With a sudden generosity and good-will, which would else be inexplicable, Laban answered : “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children whom they have born? And now come, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.'

The proposed reconciliation was effected, and the altar was raised by the two kinsmen. Laban gave it the Chaldee

name Jegar-sahadutha, and Jacob the Hebrew appellation Gal-ed, both meaning Pile of Witness. Here a feast was prepared, and here Laban and Jacob swore to each other friendship and peace. Leah and Rachel were to remain the only wives of the patriarch, and never was Jacob to invade the territory of the Aramæns. The proceedings were ratified by the invocation of the name of the Lord and by a sacrificial meal.

Early on the following morning Laban bid farewell to his children and grand-children, blessed them, and departed to return to his home. The name of Laban now disappears from the sacred narrative, and the country of Mesopotamia falls into the background, as Jacob proceeds to the land of Palestine.

Journeying along from Mizpah in Gilead, angels met him on his path. He felt that God's presence accompanied him, the place was hallowed in his eyes, and he gave to it the name of Mahanaim, or the Double Camp. The future sanctity of the spot was foreshadowed by the appearance of the angels; for in later ages Mahanaim became one of the towns set aside for the Levites.

21. JACOB AND ESAU.

[Gexes. XXXII. XXXIII.] Jacob's first thoughts on returning to the home of his youth were directed towards his brother Esau, whom he had so grievously wronged. He was near his territory; and it was not unnatural that he should be seized with misgivings and fear. Therefore he sent men into the country of Edom with this message to the great lord Esau : “Thus says thy servant Jacob, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now; and I have oxen and asses, flocks and menservants and womenservants, and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy eyes.' The

messengers returned from Edom with the alarming intelligence that Esau had set out to meet Jacob at the head of four hundred men. Surely this foreboded angry strife and hatred : so thought Jacob. He was trembling with consternation. But even then his prudence did not forsake him. He divided his people and his possessions into two distinct camps ; so that, if Esau should smite the one half, the other might escape. And then, feeling that safety and deliverance were in the hands of the Lord alone, he prayed to God, and his prayer was full of humility and true contrition: 0 God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who saidst to me, Return to thy country and to the land of thy birth, and I will do well to thee; I am too little for all the mercies and for all the truth, which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau ; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, the mother with the children. And Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. Then, anxious to propitiate Esau, he sent a present to his brother with true oriental munificence. Numerous servants were entrusted with vast droves of cattle-flocks of sheep and goats, camels with their young, herds of bulls and cows, and asses with their foals. Five hundred and fifty animals were thus separated into divisions, which under the charge of servants followed one another at intervals. Esau, advancing in his march, would thus be constantly met by the generous bounty of Jacob, and each servant was bidden to repeat, on Esau's enquiry, the same words : They are thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent to my lord Esau ; and behold he is also behind us.'

Jacob himself did not quietly await the arrival of his brother, but proceeded onwards, chiefly at night, as the

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