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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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LABAN . 1. Son of Nahor ( Genesis 29:5 ; cf. Genesis 24:47 , where ‘Bethuel, son of,’ is apparently an interpolation). He was the hrother of Rebekah ( Genesis 24:29 ), father of Leah and Rachel (29), and through them ancestor to three-fourths of the Jewish nation. He had several sons ( Genesis 30:35 , Genesis 31:1 ), and was father-in-law and uncle of Jacob. He appears first in Scripture as engaged in betrothing his sister Rebekah to Isaac ( Genesis 24:28-30 ). We meet him next at Haran entertaining Jacob ( Genesis 29:13-14 ), who had escaped from his brother Esau. The details of the transactions between Laban and Jacob for the fourteen years while the nephew served the uncle for his two daughters need not be recounted here (see chs. 29 and 30). At the end of the period Jacob was not only husband of Leah and Rachel and father of eleven sons, but also the owner of very many flocks and herds. As Laban was reluctant to part with Jacob, regarding his presence as an assurance of Divine blessing, the departure took place secretly, while Laban was absent shearing his sheep. Jacob removed his property across the Euphrates, while Rachel took with her the teraphim or household gods of the family. When Laban pursued after them and overtook them at Mount Gilead ( Genesis 31:32 ), he did no more than reproach Jacob for his stealthy flight and for his removal of the teraphim , and finally made a covenant of peace by setting up a cairn of stones and a pillar; these served as a boundary-stone between the Aramæans and the Hebrews, which neither were to pass with hostile intent to the other.

In character Laban is not pleasing, and seems to reflect in an exaggerated form the more repulsive traits in the character of his nephew Jacob; yet be shows signs of generous impulses on more than one occasion, and especially at the final parting with Jacob.

2 . An unknown place mentioned in Deuteronomy 1:1 .

T. A. Moxon.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Laban'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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