What does Genesis 31:27 mean?
ESV: Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre?
NIV: Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn't you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?
NASB: Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with tambourine and with lyre;
CSB: Why did you secretly flee from me, deceive me, and not tell me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and lyres,
NLT: Why did you slip away secretly? Why did you deceive me? And why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast, with singing and music, accompanied by tambourines and harps.
KJV: Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?
Verse Commentary:
Laban is confronting Jacob about secretly running away with his wives and children without saying a word. Jacob was inspired to leave, abruptly, thanks to Laban's cheating and scheming. First, Jacob was tricked into marrying both of Laban's daughters, and working unpaid for fourteen years (Genesis 29:20–28). Then, Laban accepted a payment system that he thought would greatly benefit himself, at Jacob's expense (Genesis 30:31–36). As it turns out, this deal was superintended by God (Genesis 31:10–12), who used it to greatly benefit Jacob, rather than Laban (Genesis 30:37–43). Seeing Laban's anger at a backfiring scheme, Jacob and his wives agreed that it was time to leave for Canaan (Genesis 31:3). After ten days, Laban and his men have discovered what happened, and caught up to the fleeing family.

Now Laban suggests that if Jacob had only told him ahead of time, Laban would have thrown a huge and happy goodbye party with music and laughter and celebration. This is almost certainly false; even if Laban convinced himself that he would have responded in such a way, Jacob would have known better. This comes across as the kind of manipulation Laban was known for. His prior actions certainly don't support a view of Laban as loving and supportive. Rather, he could be expected to be manipulative and greedy (Genesis 31:14–16).
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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