COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 3–Laban

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?


“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psa 126:5-6).

The metaphor here seems to be that of a poor farmer who has had a very bad harvest the year before. A very scanty portion of grain and food has been gathered from the earth, yet the seeding time has come again. Out of the previous year’s famine, he must plant for a new year. Maybe only a little seed has been saved to be sown, or perhaps the farmer has purchased the seed at great expense, in hopes of another crop to feed his family. The poor farmer must sow, or else despair and perish. He carries his precious seed with him in his bag, and with a sorrowful heart commits it to the plowed soil. Though the sowing of seed is a work of labor and sorrow, yet the return (the harvest) brings rejoicing. Works which are begun under many difficulties, and which require much labor, are crowned with success. The joy is more than equivalent to all the weariness and sorrow felt in carrying out the task whether it is the toil of the farmer; the cares and anxieties of the student; the work of conversion and repentance; the labors of the preacher or minister; the efforts of the Bible class teacher; the faithfulness of the Christian parent; the endeavors of elders in overseeing the flock; even the zeal and sacrifice of the Christian missionary. Whoever labors hard, in cold and in rain, in fear and danger, in poverty and in want, casting his precious seed in the ground, will surely come again, at harvest-time, with rejoicing, and bearing his sheaves with him.

The prophets who sowed in tears will reap in joy. The righteous were persecuted and served their God with weeping (Hos. 10:12). Paul wept as he sowed the seed of the kingdom, but he will reap in joy (John 4:34-38). Paul sowed the word of God to Ephesus and many others (Acts 20:17-19). He reminded them of the tears he shed in sowing the seed to them (Acts 20:31). He did not labor in vain, but reaped in joy. Those who sin can sow the word and humble themselves to obey (Jas. 4:9-10). Those who sow in tears of sorrow for their weaknesses can still sow and reap in joy. Jesus is the classic example of one who sowed in tears and reaped in joy (Heb. 5:7). Who could possibly reap more than Jesus?


    1. What reasons might make the farmer sow his seed with tears (Psa. 126:5)?
    2. Why would the analogy of sowing and reaping be such a graphic illustration to those living in Israel during David’s time?
    3. Why would Christians sow eternal seed in tears?
    4. Explain how the time of reaping would bring joy to those who sow the seed.
    5. What does the faithful Christian mother do with her children every day (2 Tim. 3:15)?
    6. How would a faithful, qualified elder sow in tears and reap in joy?
    7. When are we to sow the seed (2 Tim. 4:2)?
    8. If we do not work in the field when it is “cold,” to whom will we be likened (Prov. 20:4)? What will he and we have in the harvest?
    9. What is the eternal seed (Matt. 13:22-23; Luke 8:11)?
    10. What if a farmer sowed the wrong seed or mixed seed? Would he then reap in joy?
    11. According to the parable of the sower, the word of God is the seed sown in the hearts of men. What is the fruit of that seed?
      • Using the vine analogy, what are God’s children in the vine (John 15:5)?
      • Is the fruit which the branch produces grapes or more branches (John 15:2)?
      • Is the child of God commanded to bear more branches or more fruit (John 15:8)?
      • What is the fruit that the child of God is to produce (Tit. 3:14)?
      • What does the Father purge so the branch will bear more fruit (John 15:2)?
      • Some say the fruit of a Christian is another Christian. If this is true and the Christian is a branch, what would the Christian produce?
      • If the Christian bears another branch, and the Father purges the first branch, what would happen to the second branch?
      • If the fruit of a Christian is another Christian, what does the Father promise to do if the first branch produces fruit (good works) (John 15:2; Tit 3:14)?


  1. Find as many ways as you can to show how the apostle Paul sowed in tears and reaped in joy. Remember that Paul wrote at least 13 of the NT epistles and possibly 14. There are examples of his “sowing in tears” in all of his letters. Pay particular attention to 2 Corinthians, chapters 10 through 13.