Genesis 31:30 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 31:30, NIV: "Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father's household. But why did you steal my gods?'"

Genesis 31:30, ESV: "And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”"

Genesis 31:30, KJV: "And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?"

Genesis 31:30, NASB: "Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?'"

Genesis 31:30, NLT: "I can understand your feeling that you must go, and your intense longing for your father's home. But why have you stolen my gods?'"

Genesis 31:30, CSB: "Now you have gone off because you long for your father's family--but why have you stolen my gods?""

What does Genesis 31:30 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

After delivering his initial confrontation against Jacob for fleeing with no warning, Laban now expresses a hint of sympathy for Jacob. He decides that Jacob longed greatly—or "yearned"—for his father's house. Laban seems to understand that his son-in-law wanted to go home. As angry as he might be, and as much as his reputation suggests he's more interested in money than family (Genesis 31:14–16), Laban seems resolved to set other issues aside and allow Jacob to leave. This, in no small part, comes due to God's message to Laban, mentioned in verse 24: don't interfere with Jacob.

Before they part ways, however, Laban has one more accusation for Jacob: Why did you steal my gods? This is a reference to the idols stolen by Rachel (Genesis 31:19), an act no one—including Jacob—was aware of at the time. These idols were common in that era, and were probably intended to bring luck or protection to the family. This accusation, far more than the others, carries some legal heft. There is no question that stealing those objects, idols or not, was a theft of something of real value to Laban. In addition to spiritual issues, the house idols may have been seen as a kind of legal marker indicating who was the true owner or inheritor of the estate. Laban might be legitimately concerned that Jacob will return after his death and demand to take an inheritance.