What does Genesis 31:21 mean?
ESV: He fled with all that he had and arose and crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.
NIV: So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
NASB: So he fled with all that he had; and he got up and crossed the Euphrates River, and set out for the hill country of Gilead.
CSB: He fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
NLT: So Jacob took all his possessions with him and crossed the Euphrates River, heading for the hill country of Gilead.
KJV: So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead.
Verse Commentary:
For some two decades, Jacob has been abused and cheated by Laban. This began with a jaw-dropping betrayal, tricking Jacob into marrying Leah, and coercing him into working a second stint of seven years as a result (Genesis 29:20–28). It continued with Laban's repeated efforts to take advantage of Jacob, including unfair tactics (Genesis 30:31–36), and an attempt to change their agreement several times (Genesis 31:4–13). Even Laban's feuding daughters (Genesis 30:8), now the wives of Jacob, recognized that their father was a dishonest, greedy man who held no real love for them (Genesis 31:14–16). So, with the blessing of his wives, Jacob has pushed his caravan of family, camels, donkeys, servants, belongings, and livestock as quickly as he could. He wanted to put real distance between himself and Laban before his father-in-law realized he was gone.

Jacob's strategy here strongly implies that Laban wouldn't have voluntarily allowed them to leave. In fact, based on Laban's own words later on, Jacob might have had reason to fear violence (Genesis 31:29).

By waiting until Laban was a few days away, shearing his own flock (Genesis 31:19), Jacob achieved some distance, reaching and crossing the Euphrates River and heading toward Gilead. It would not be enough, however, to keep Laban from catching up to him.
Verse Context:
Genesis 31:1–21 describes the events that propel Jacob to sneak away from Laban and head toward his homeland of Canaan. First, he learns that Laban and his sons are dangerously unhappy with him for taking so many of Laban's profits. Then God commands Jacob to go, promising to be with him. After securing the support of his wives, Jacob packs up his large family and property and sneaks away toward Gilead and then home.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 31 describes Jacob's difficult separation from Laban, his father-in-law, as well as his boss for twenty years. During that time, Jacob was routinely mistreated and cheated by his master. Commanded by God to return to the land of Canaan, Jacob packs up his wives, children, and all of his possessions and leaves without telling Laban. Laban soon catches up with the large company. Laban and Jacob confront each other bitterly. Eventually, though, they make a covenant of separation and peace.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 30 described the dramatic expansion of Jacob's family and property. Now, after twenty years of working for Laban, the time comes for Jacob to return to his own people. He attempts to sneak away without telling Laban, but Laban soon catches up with him. After bitter confrontations, father and son-in-law make a covenant of separation and peace. Jacob is finally free to begin the next chapter of his life in the Promised Land. First, though, he will need to deal with his brother Esau, whose rage was the main reason Jacob fled in the first place. That encounter is described over the following two chapters.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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