Genesis 31:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 31:19, NIV: "When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods."

Genesis 31:19, ESV: "Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods."

Genesis 31:19, KJV: "And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's."

Genesis 31:19, NASB: "Laban had gone to shear his flock, and Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s."

Genesis 31:19, NLT: "At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father's household idols and took them with her."

Genesis 31:19, CSB: "When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household idols."

What does Genesis 31:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The previous verses describe Jacob loading his family on camels and driving all of his possessions away from Laban's estate. The family is heading in the direction of Jacob's father Isaac in the land of Canaan (Genesis 31:3). This verse steps back to let us know that, before they pulled out, Rachel went to her father's house while he was out, and stole his "household gods." These household gods were, apparently, a collection of small, commonly used idols; these are referred to in the original Hebrew using the word teraphiym. Similar objects are referred to in Judges 17:5 and 2 Kings 23:24.

This raises a question: why would Rachel steal them? Several possibilities are suggested by scholars. Perhaps Rachel's reasons were spiritual; she might have thought these gods provided protection or fertility and didn't want to lose that by leaving them behind. We know that Rachel worshiped the God of Jacob, at least at times, but it's likely that she and others in her family also worshiped other gods, as well, hoping to be blessed by all of them.

It's also possible that Rachel was emotionally attached to these household idols, as familiar items from her childhood. She perhaps thought that having them would comfort her in leaving behind her homeland. A few scholars even suggest that possessing these idols would allow a family member to claim an inheritance when the time came.

Most simply, and probably most likely, Rachel took these items simply as one last act of rebellion and revenge against her father.

Whatever her reason, stealing them will soon endanger her life.