Genesis 31:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 31:28, NIV: "You didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing."

Genesis 31:28, ESV: "And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly."

Genesis 31:28, KJV: "And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing."

Genesis 31:28, NASB: "and did not allow me to kiss my grandchildren and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly."

Genesis 31:28, NLT: "Why didn't you let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren and tell them good-bye? You have acted very foolishly!"

Genesis 31:28, CSB: "but you didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly."

What does Genesis 31:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Laban is confronting Jacob about secretly running away, with his wives and children, and all of Jacob's possessions, without saying a word. He has suggested that if Jacob would have only told him, they could have celebrated with a festive goodbye party. Jacob would have known better than to expect that. As repeatedly demonstrated, it was much more likely that Laban would have responded with some form of manipulation to keep Jacob from leaving or to take from Jacob some of the wealth he had accumulated. Even Laban's own daughters had admitted that their father didn't really care about them—he was only interested in wealth (Genesis 31:14–16).

The objection from Laban in this verse, however, is at least somewhat more believable. Jacob had left without giving Laban the chance to kiss his daughters and sons—a term including grandsons—farewell, something that would break any father's heart. Laban's daughters did not seem to mind leaving without saying goodbye to their father, but Laban's appeal here is not entirely amiss.

Laban concludes by saying that Jacob has done foolishly. One thing that helps Genesis to resonate so deeply is stories like these, in which readers can see the validity of both points of view. Was Jacob wise to run without warning and give Laban no chance to try to manipulate him in some new way? Is Laban right that such action is dishonorable, no matter how dishonorable Laban himself had been? Human conversations very similar to this one continue to happen in families in every generation.