Laban and Jacob had wrongs to right. Each one had cheated the other somehow. But Laban the father came to his senses in realising this:
“The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne?”
They agreed not to let their disagreements continue to dominate and to dictate their future relationship. Jacob took the initiative to set up a stone pillar and had his folk erect a stone mound to witness the covenant made between him and his father in law. Both men agreed – agreed to disagree really; and they did, for safety, allow the past to determine their future, because the mound of witness and the pillar of witness established physical barriers between them:
Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.
Laban tried to ensure that his daughters would not be slighted if Jacob chose other wives. Or maybe Laban, like Isaac, was concerned about their “ethnic purity”. He forbade Jacob:
If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.”
What strikes me most though about the account, is the men’s desire for faithful witness to their ancestors and the God whom they served:
May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor”—the God of their father—“judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac,
I believe that there would be a lot less fraction among families if members were to honour their ancestors who would, themselves, have had to overcome differences to achieve their common goals.
Help us Lord, always to keep the bigger picture in mind, and to let faithfulness to your will determine our responses.