31 Laban said, “What should I give you?” Jacob said, “You will not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it:
32 let me pass through all your flock today, putting aside from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they will be my wages.
33 So my integrity will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be considered stolen.”
34 Laban said, “Alright, It will be as you have said.”
35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in charge of his sons.
36 And he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Then Jacob took new sticks from poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks.
38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs where they watered, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink,
39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.
40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs in front of the eyes of the flock, that they would breed among the sticks,
42 but for the weaker of the flock he would not lay them there. So the weaker would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.
43 Thus Jacob got much wealthier and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
remapping a relationship
Jacob and Laban’s family/work environment had become so tense and toxic that it became clear to both that change was needed. They needed to put some distance between themselves, and establish new boundaries, with a better understanding of what belonged to whom. Both men had their own interests at heart, but God was at work in the remapping of the relationship.
The LORD’s interests were the same as they had been at first. He wanted Jacob to be safe, and to prosper. As we learn later, he orchestrates the elaborate stick ritual, not because there was some magical power behind the sticks, but as a way of teaching Jacob to trust his instructions. Another relationship is being remapped. Changes in the social structure of Jacob’s life are touching Jacob’s spiritual life as well.
LORD, give us the wisdom to let you guide our lives, and the sensitivity to your guidance that we will need in order to see our life adjustments as ways to become more like you.