Monday, March 21, 2016

Why did Rachel steal the idols?

This week, we are going to look at Rachel again, but we'll be focusing on a few verses that we passed over in our study last week.  The incident we'll study happened when Jacob gathered his flocks, his wives, and his children, and headed back home. The entire chapter of Genesis 31 is interesting, but we'll look closely at verses 1-20, and then verses 32-35.

Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, 7yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.
10“In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’ ”
14Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
17Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram,a to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 

 32But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.
35Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.

So it was Rachel who stole them! Why in the world would she do that? And what is the significance of this story?

Let's dive in!

You'll recall that Jacob spent years working for Laban, far away from his home and family, just for the right to marry both of his daughters. He became very wealthy over time, and perhaps that is one reason why the relationship between Jacob and Laban was always a little strained. I'm guessing that since they both were conniving guys, and truly motivated by greed (except for when Jacob was overcome by love), that they never really trusted one another.

Jacob overheard the sons of Laban and got the message: both they and their dad were not too happy with Jacob. The relationship which had been tenuous at best, was now deteriorating further. Sheepshearing season was approaching, and I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but it is hot and strenuous work! Jacob gave in to his distrust of Laban, his homesickness, and perhaps his desire to avoid shearing, and told his wives of his plans to leave. When Laban left for three days, Jacob and his large family started their journey.

Just before leaving her father's home, Rachel saw her dad's idols, and stole them. When Laban returned and found the idols gone, he went ballistic. He vowed that Jacob (he jumped to that conclusion) would pay with his life for this theft. God appeared to the angry Laban and told him to tone it down.
Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” (Genesis 31:24)
When he caught up with Jacob and the rest of the group, he accused him, but Jacob vehemently denied the charges, since he had no knowledge of Rachel's actions. Now it was his turn to make a rash vow -- if Laban found the idols, the person who had stolen them would be killed! So, Laban began to search the entire camp.  When Rachel saw Laban and his servants moving from tent to tent, searching for the idols, she placed the idols inside her camel's saddle and sat upon it. When her father came into the tent, she said the equivalent of, "Sorry, dad, I can't get up. I'm having my period."

Is she a schemer, or what?
For many years, scholars have discussed why she stole the idols. The Spirit brought this to my mind, and I thought we would study these things this week.

Stick around and study with us!


Belinda said...

Oooh, sneaky Rachel! I'm very curious....

Belinda said...

Oooh, sneaky Rachel! I'm very curious....

Cathy said...

I’ve often wondered about that when I read the story.

Katie Isabella said...

Now, here I am and very anxious to learn what you think about this as I have wondered each time I have read those passages.