Genesis 31:29 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 31:29, NIV: "I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'"

Genesis 31:29, ESV: "It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’"

Genesis 31:29, KJV: "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, NASB: "It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’"

Genesis 31:29, NLT: "I could destroy you, but the God of your father appeared to me last night and warned me, 'Leave Jacob alone!'"

Genesis 31:29, CSB: "I could do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me: 'Watch yourself! Don't say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'"

What does Genesis 31:29 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Laban is confronting Jacob about secretly running away. Jacob has fled with his wives and children and all of his possessions without saying a word to his father-in-law and employer, Laban. Laban concludes here by saying that it is in his power to do Jacob harm. Perhaps he means that he has the capability to physically harm Jacob and/or take by force from Jacob what Laban does not wish to release. Or Laban could mean that it would be within his legal rights to restrain Jacob or his wives, children, or belongings as escaped property that rightly belongs to him.

Whatever he might mean, he tells Jacob he won't do it. Why? The God of Jacob's father warned him not to say anything good or bad to Jacob (Genesis 31:24). The point of that expression is that God does not want Laban to contradict Jacob. By this statement, from Laban, Jacob receives more evidence that God is with him, protecting him, even from his own father-in-law.

It's interesting that Laban recognizes the Lord as the God of Jacob's father, Isaac. Laban would well remember when Abraham's servant came to his household many years earlier to find a wife for Isaac. The servant had proclaimed repeatedly that his master's God was providing for his master. Laban continued to believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob was a powerful God who provided for their best interests.