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With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

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).

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