Through the Word: Mizpah, the Second Pillar

Genesis 31

Things had soured between Jacob and his uncle Laban and they were heading for a fallout over the livestock. Jacob was doing better than Laban with his herds and Laban’s sons accused Jacob of profiting at their father’s expense.

The Angel of God spoke to Jacob in a dream, saying, “Jacob lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.

I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.” Genesis 31:13

So Jacob called Leah and Rachel to the field and flock to consult them about leaving.

The sisters were in agreement when it came to their father, who they said had sold them and completely consumed their money; “For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.” Genesis 31:14-16

Fleeing with all they had, they mounted on camels with their children, possessions and livestock, and snuck away while Laban was away shearing his sheep. Crossing the river, they headed toward the mountains of Gilead.

Unbeknown to Jacob, Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father’s.

On the third day Laban was told Jacob had fled. He took his brethren with him and pursued Jacob for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead.

“Why did you steal my gods?” Laban asked, after accusing Jacob of carrying his daughters away like captives. The idols were in a camels saddle which Rachel sat on inside her tent. She told her father she couldn’t get up as she was indisposed. He didn’t find them.

After recriminations on both sides, Laban suggested they make a covenant. Jacob made a pillar and stone heap to mark a demarcation line between them.

The place was called Mizpah, meaning ‘watch tower,’ as Laban said,

“May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.” Genesis 31:49

This is the second pillar that Jacob erected. The first was the one God mentioned above at Bethel. Jacob was running from Esau that time. Now, twenty years later, he’d run away from Laban. Is there a pattern of behaviour here?

It’s just as well that Jacob and Laban believed that God was keeping watch and managed to make peace. Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and they ate bread and stayed the night. And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them before departing.

The Heap of Witness, Genesis 31:44–46, 1890 Holman Bible. Wikimedia

Related Post

Through the Word: the Stairway to Heaven

Links

Jacob’s Four Pillars

There’s a physical landscape, and a spiritual landscape.

In the lives of His own as recorded in Scripture, God sometimes shows us His ways by highlighting events with natural markers. We find this in the lives of some of the patriarchs, for we find that Abraham had four altars, Isaac had four wells, Jacob had four pillars, and Joseph had four garments. Of course, others had some of these same things, but in the lives of Abraham and his descendants, we find these four entities especially noted of God.

From: The Life of Jacob: November 2009 By: William J. Prost

Gilead Mountains Of Jordan

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