What does Genesis 31:23 mean?
ESV: he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days and followed close after him into the hill country of Gilead.
NIV: Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead.
NASB: he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead.
CSB: So he took his relatives with him, pursued Jacob for seven days, and overtook him in the hill country of Gilead.
NLT: So he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead.
KJV: And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
NKJV: Then he took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead.
Verse Commentary:
Three days passed before Laban realized that Jacob and all of his flocks and family were gone. This delay is, ironically, Laban's own fault. Previously, in an effort to further cheat his son-in-law, Laban had ordered his sons to move the livestock three days away from Jacob (Genesis 30:31–36). Most likely, this was the location Laban had gone to when Jacob and his family decided to flee. In that three-day span, Jacob's huge caravan made it all the way to and across the Euphrates River and was heading toward the hill country of Gilead.

Laban gathered some kinsman and gave chase. With a smaller group, Laban could move much more quickly. Still, it took a full week before Laban caught up within sight of Jacob's caravan. For Jacob, this would have been the tenth day of his journey. Jacob had good reasons to be concerned—he seems to have already known that Laban would never have agreed to let Jacob's family go. Laban's own words, recorded here, indicate that Jacob might also have been concerned about a violent reaction (Genesis 31:29).
Verse Context:
Genesis 31:22–42 recounts Laban's pursuit of Jacob and his large company, after learning his son-in-law has left for Canaan without telling him. It takes a week, but Laban catches up. Warned by God in a dream not to say anything to Jacob ''either good or bad,'' Laban instead expresses his hurt to Jacob and accuses him of stealing Laban's house idols. When a search for the idols—cleverly hidden by Rachel without Jacob's knowledge—turns up nothing, Jacob finally expresses all of his complaints about Laban's unfair treatment of him in spite of twenty years of faithful service.
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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