25 ¶And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. 27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. 28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it. 29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?*n12*n13 31 And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock: 32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire. 33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.*n14 34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word. 35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons. 36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. 37 ¶And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. 38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle. 41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
Fourteen years have passed and now Jacob is ready to head back home with his wives and children and he is ready to have his bond-servitude considered paid in full by Laban but his father-in-law is not ready to let him go. He had profited greatly from the service of Jacob and that is something that he just didn’t want to give up so easily. I think Jacob had learned a valuable lesson in living with Laban that you reap what you sow because he had been just as crafty as Jacob.
Laban was, as was probably all of his counterparts in the area, a pagan who believed that there were many gods that existed in the spirit world. He must have seen Jacob’s God as just one of the many that were out there, so in verse 27 Laban invokes Jacob’s God and says tells him that he had “spiritually divined” that it was God who had caused them both to profit so greatly. Now this doesn’t mean that he believed in God but that this acknowledgement served him for a greater purpose and that was to get on the good side of Jacob.
We see another battle of wits between Jacob and Laban again. This time it involves the livestock that Jacob had been tending, and we will see that his knowledge gives him a very good advantage over his father-in-law.
Jacob tells Laban that he will stay for a little while more if he is given all of the speckled and spotted sheep and goats, stating that it would be easier to identify one flock from the other.
Scholars still debate as to the deal about sticks making the animals produce certain types of offspring but either way Jacob figured something out or he had a lot of help from God.
Sheep were usually pure white and goats were normally dark brown or black and that was the favored result, especially for Laban, whose name strangely enough in Hebrew, means “White.”
Laban had expected that the amount of white sheep and dark goats would have vastly outnumbered the speckled and spotted animals and it seems now that he would realize that Jacob had finally gotten the better of him.
This would only cause the problems between them to grow much worse as we shall see in the next chapter