COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 3– Laban
Laban, “son of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram” and “brother of Rebekah” lived in the city of Nahor (Gen. 25:20). Appearing first when Abraham’s servant come to look for a wife for Isaac, he heard of the servant’s presence, saw the golden jewelry given to Rebekah, and eagerly invited Abraham’s servant into their home (Gen. 24:29-60). Laban’s eagerness to be hospitable (Gen. 24:31), coming immediately after he took inventory of the gifts given to his sister (Gen. 24:30), is commonly regarded as proof of the same covetousness that is his most obvious character trait throughout the remainder of his life. Making himself equal to their father, Laban played an important role in the marriage arrangements of Isaac and Rebekah. The stubbornness and greed displayed during this occasion also appear to characterize Laban’s later dealings with Rebekah’s son, Jacob.
Approximately ninety years later, Jacob left home to escape death at the hand of his brother Esau (Gen. 27:43; 28:2). At the well of Haran he met Rachel, Laban’s daughter. Promising her to him in return for seven years of labor, he dealt with Jacob with deception and greed. He cunningly devised a plan to give his eldest daughter Leah to Jacob first and then forced him to work seven more years for Rachel. Seeing that the Lord abundantly blessed Jacob’s work, Laban persuaded him to stay longer than the original fourteen years agreed upon, but the wages he promised were changed ten times within the next six years (Gen. 29-30).
Because relationships between Laban and Jacob became tense (Gen. 31:2), Jacob quietly left with his wives, children, and possessions for which he had labored so long. Hearing the news three days later, Laban pursued Jacob to get back what he considered to be his own (Gen. 31:30; 36, 43). Eventually, after being warned of God not to say anything good or bad to Jacob (Gen 31:24), Laban and Jacob parted on peaceful terms. Together they heaped stones for an altar to serve as a mutual testimony that they would have no further dealings with one another. They called upon God as their witness that they would never pass beyond the stones to do harm to one another (Gen. 31:43-55).
QUESTIONS: If a specific scripture reference is not provided for each question, give one that shows the best possible response. Feel free to add more than one to prove the right answer.
1. How did Laban hear that the servant of Abraham had come searching for a wife for Isaac?
2. What was Laban’s reaction to the news?
3. How old was Isaac when he took Rebekah for his wife?
4. How many years was Rebekah barren?
5. How old was Jacob when he came to Laban’s house to find a wife?
6. What gives us the distinct impression that Laban was covetous from the beginning (Gen. 24:30-31)?
7. What verse in chapter 24 tells us that Laban had faith the Lord had sent Abraham’s servant to take his sister Rebekah for Isaac’s wife?
8. Another statement in Genesis 30:27 also shows that Laban had faith in the Lord’s work. How did that “faith” affect his dealings with Jacob?
9. As Laban’s greed grew, how did it affect his relationship with Jacob and his daughters?
10. What reasons did Laban’s own daughters give for wanting to leave their father (Gen. 31:13-16)?
11. Why did Jacob feel the need to leave quietly without telling Laban he was going to his home? Was he justified?
12. How did Rachel show that evil communication corrupted good morals (1 Cor 15:33; Gen. 31:19)?
13. Give two reasons why Laban chased after Jacob three days later (Gen. 31:33-34; 31:43).
14. What did God tell Laban in a dream before he went to accuse Jacob (Gen. 31:24-25)? What would Laban’s covetousness have caused him to do to Jacob and thus even to his own daughters?
15. Through the knowledge of God we are given exceeding great and precious promises: that by these [promises] we “might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:3-4). What is one of the major things we must escape before we can partake of the divine nature of God and inherit the promises?