Jacob's Return Journey
Jacob had arrived at his uncle Laban's home as a refugee, fleeing for his life from his own brother (see Blessing The Favorites, Why Did Esau Lose The Blessing? and Jacob's Vow At Bethel). Jacob's twenty years with Laban were however extremely profitable for him. He arrived alone, but while there he acquired two wives, two concubines, eleven sons, one daughter (see Jacob's Family) and much of his uncle's livestock (see Jacob's Ringstreaked, Speckled And Spotted). After all of that, Laban's cousins (and Laban himself) became almost as resentful toward Jacob as Jacob's brother Esau had been. Jacob had worn out his welcome.
"31:1 And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory. 31:2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
"It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad"
So Jacob gathered his family and his property and headed home - without telling Laban.
"31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels [see Arabian and Bactrian]; 31:18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
When Laban discovered that Jacob had fled, he set off in pursuit of his nephew. It's not clear what Laban was intending to do when he found Jacob, but the LORD's warning to Laban is an obvious clue: "31:29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad." (Genesis 31:29 KJV)
"31:22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. 31:23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead. 31:24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad." (Genesis 31:22-24 KJV)
Laban then accused Jacob of stealing his household idols, that, unknown to Jacob, were taken by Rachel.
"31:25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead. 31:26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? 31:27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? 31:28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. 31:29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 31:30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?
Fact Finder: Does the LORD's Commandment against the use of idols apply only to those who worship false gods?