New Defender's Study Bible Notes
31:10 saw in a dream. God revealed to Jacob in this dream that, even though the cattle all seemed to be of the dominantly solid colors, those which actually were mating were genetically heterozygous, thus producing an abnormal proportion of spotted offspring to augment Jacob’s flock. God thus providentially honored Jacob’s faith and punished Laban’s cupidity.
31:11 the angel of God. This “angel of God” claimed to be “the God of Beth-el” (Genesis 31:13). This clearly indicates a theophany, with God the Son appearing in pre-incarnate form.
31:15 he hath sold us. Leah and Rachel revealed here that they had long resented the way their father had “sold” them to Jacob. The exorbitant price extracted from Jacob–fourteen years’ free labor–made them love Jacob but resent Laban. Furthermore, instead of using this payment like a dowry, to provide a base for his daughters’ future financial security, he had given nothing to them personally.
31:23 pursued after him. Laban not only had repeatedly tried to defraud Jacob, but fully intended to take Jacob’s flocks and herds back by force, probably slaying Jacob in the process. However, God intervened to prevent it.
31:32 thy gods. These “gods” were small household images (or teraphim), used both in religious observances (evidently Laban, though he knew about the true God, had been influenced to a degree by the paganism around him) and also as tokens of ownership of the real estate where their possessor lived. As such, it was considered a capital crime to steal them. Rachel, however, took this risk presumably because Laban had not given either her or Leah “any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house” (Genesis 31:14). Laban did not find them in Jacob’s possessions (Rachel had hidden them well), but we do not know whether this loss ever caused any commercial problem for him. In any case, because of their idolatrous associations, Jacob later buried all these pagan mementos at Bethel (Genesis 35:4).
31:49 Mizpah. “Mizpah” means “watchtower.” This has been called the “Mizpah Benediction,” but Laban obviously did not mean it as any kind of blessing!