What does Genesis 31:42 mean?Jacob had served Laban for some twenty years, during which time he was mistreated, cheated, and abused (Genesis 29:20–28; 30:31–36). Even Laban's two daughters, both wives of Jacob, agreed that their father was greedy and loveless (Genesis 31:14–16). When Jacob chose to leave, Laban confronted him and accused him of theft, not knowing that it was Rachel who'd stolen his house idols (Genesis 31:19). Jacob responds by denouncing Laban's abuse, especially given Jacob's exemplary record of service.
Here, Jacob is making the same closing argument he had made to his wives about Laban's mistreatment. He has said that Laban had changed his wages 10 times in hopes of reducing the number of animals that would belong to Jacob. Now Jacob shows how the Lord protected him from his own father-in-law.
It is a stinging rebuke both of Laban's faithlessness and God's ability to make Laban powerless. No matter how Laban tried to harm and cheat Jacob, the Lord would not allow it. If not for the Lord, Jacob says, Laban would still send Jacob away with nothing even after two decades of difficult and faithful service.
Jacob refers to the Lord as the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac. The name "Fear of Isaac" appears only in this chapter in the Bible. It may be a reference to the fear Laban himself experienced when the Lord told him to, in essence, leave Jacob alone. If the Lord had not seen Jacob's faithful and difficult service and his mistreatment by Laban—and had not stepped in even now to protect Jacob from Laban—Jacob understood he would have nothing.
With his condemnation of Laban's selfishness, greed, mistreatment, and now fearful powerlessness, Jacob ends his speech. How will Laban respond to this?