Laban

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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

LABAN . 1. Son of NahorGenesis 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.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

La'ban. (White).

1. Son of Bethuel, brother of Rebekah, and father of Leah and Rachel. (B.C. about 1860-1740). The elder branch of the family remained at Haran, Mesopotamia, when Abraham removed to the land of Canaan, and it is there that we first meet with Laban, as taking the leading part in the betrothal, of his sister Rebekah to her cousin Isaac.  Genesis 24:10;  Genesis 24:29-60;  Genesis 27:43;  Genesis 29:5.

The next time Laban appears in the sacred narrative, it is as the host of his nephew , Jacob, at Haran.  Genesis 29:13-14. See Jacob . Jacob married Rachel and Leah, daughters of Laban, and remained with him 20 years, B.C. 1760-1740. But Laban's dishones, t and overreaching practice toward his nephew shows, from what source Jacob inherited his tendency to sharp dealing. Nothing is said of Laban, after Jacob left him.

2. One of the landmarks named in the obscure and disputed passage,  Deuteronomy 1:1. The mention of Hezeroth has perhaps led, to the only conjecture regarding Laban, of which the writer is aware, namely, that it is identical with Libnah .  Numbers 33:20.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

the son of Bethuel, grandson of Nahor, brother to Rebekah, and father of Rachel and Leah,  Genesis 28:2 , &c. Of this man, the first thing we hear is his entertainment of Abraham's servant when he came on his errand to Rebekah. Hospitality was the virtue of his age and country. In his case, however, it seems to have been no little stimulated by the sight of "the ear ring and the bracelets on his sister's hands," which the servant had already given her,  Genesis 24:30; so he speedily made room for the camels. He next is presented to us as beguiling that sister's son, who had sought a shelter in his house, and whose circumstances placed him at his mercy, of fourteen years' service, when he had covenanted with him for seven only; endeavouring to retain his labour when he would not pay him his labour's worth, himself devouring the portion which he should have given to his daughters, counting them but as strangers,  Genesis 31:15 . Compelled, at length, to pay Jacob wages, he changes them ten times, and, in the spirit of a crafty, griping worldling, makes him account for whatever of the flock was torn of beasts or stolen, whether by day or night. When Jacob flies from this iniquitous service with his family and cattle, Laban still pursues and persecutes him, intending, if his intentions had not been overruled by a mightier hand, to send him away empty, even after he had been making, for so long a period, so usurious a profit of him.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

1. Son of Bethuel, brotherof Rebekah, and father of Leah and Rachel. His prompt hospitality towards Abraham's servant shows a heart disposed by the Lord in answer to prayer; but why he took the lead instead of Bethuel, his father, is not revealed. In his dealings with Jacob, Laban was scheming and unscrupulous. This was met by craft on Jacob's part, and would doubtless have led to a serious conflict, had not God warned Laban not to speak to Jacob either good or bad. After Jacob had rehearsed all the wrongs and hardships he had endured during the twenty years he had served Laban, they made a covenant together and separated amicably. Laban is called a Syrian, and he dwelt at Haran.  Genesis 24:29,50;  Genesis 25:20;  Genesis 27:43;  Genesis 28:2,5;  Genesis 29:5-29;  Genesis 30:25-42;  Genesis 31:1-55 .

2. One of the stations of the Israelites.  Deuteronomy 1:1 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

A rich herdsman of Mesopotamia, son of Bethuel, and grandson of Mahor, Abraham's brother,  Genesis 24:28-31 . His character is shown in the gladness with which he gave his sister Rebekah in marriage to the only son of his rich uncle, Abraham,  Genesis 24:30,50; and in his deceitful and exacting treatment of Jacob his nephew and son-inlaw, against which Jacob defended himself by cunning as well as fidelity. When the prosperity of the one family and the jealousy of the other rendered peace impossible, Jacob, at the command of God, secretly departed, to go to Canaan. Laban pursued him; but being warned by God to do him no harm, returned home after making a treaty of peace. He seems to have known and worshipped God,  Genesis 24:50   30:27   31:53; but the "gods" or teraphim which Rachel stole from her father,  Genesis 31:30,34 , show that he was not without the taint of idolatry.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

After the father of Abraham migrated to the region of Paddan-aram in northern Mesopotamia, some of the family settled there. Others, such as Abraham and Lot, moved south into Canaan ( Genesis 11:31-32;  Genesis 12:1-5). Laban became a prominent member of one of the families that remained in Paddan-aram. He shared with his father in giving permission for his sister, Rebekah, to marry Abraham’s son, Isaac ( Genesis 24:15;  Genesis 24:29;  Genesis 24:50-51). Later he gave his own daughters, Leah and Rachel, to be wives of Isaac’s son, Jacob ( Genesis 28:2;  Genesis 29:15-30). Laban’s deceit of Jacob in the marriage arrangements began a long contest of trickery between the two, as each tried to outdo the other. (For details see Jacob .)

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Laban ( Lâ'Ban ), White. 1. Son of Bethuel, brother of Rebekah and father of Leah and Rachel. The elder branch of Abram's family remained at Haran, in Mesopotamia, when Abraham removed to the land of Canaan. There Laban was, and took the leading part in the betrothal of his sister Rebekah to Isaac.  Genesis 24:10;  Genesis 24:29-60;  Genesis 27:43;  Genesis 29:5. Laban again appears as the host of his nephew Jacob at Haran.  Genesis 29:13-14. Jacob married Rachel and Leah, daughters of Laban, serving for them 20 to 40 years. But Laban's conduct toward his nephew shows from what source Jacob inherited his tendency to sharp dealing. Nothing is said of Laban after Jacob parted from him.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 29:16 Genesis 24:1 Genesis 29-31

Laban was directly responsible for the betrothal of Rebekah to Isaac. After Abraham's steward related that he had come to find a wife for Isaac, Laban and his father give their permission for the marriage ( Genesis 24:1 :  50-51 ). Later, Jacob fled to his uncle Laban's house after stealing the blessing from Esau. Laban agreed to give his daughter, Rachel, as payment for Jacob's seven years of labor. However, Laban deceived Jacob making him marry the older daughter, Leah. After Jacob worked an additional seven years, Laban allowed him to marry Rachel ( Genesis 29:15-30 ). See Jacob .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

  • A city in the Arabian desert in the route of the Israelites (  Deuteronomy 1:1 ), probably identical with Libnah ( Numbers 33:20 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Laban'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/l/laban.html. 1897.

  • Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

    The Syrian, son of Bethuel, brother to Rebekah, and father to Rachel, whose history forms so interesting a page in Scripture from his connection with Jacob. (See  Genesis 28:1-22;  Genesis 29:1-35;  Genesis 30:1-43; Genesis 31:1-55) His name means, white.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

    lā´ban  : The person named Laban, לבן , lābhān  ; ( Λαβάν , Labán , possibly connected with the root meaning "to be white," from which in Hebrew the adjective meaning "white" has just this form) is first introduced to the reader of Genesis in the story of the wooing of Rebekah (  Genesis 24 ). He belonged to that branch of the family of Terah that was derived from Abraham's brother Nahor and his niece Milcah. The genealogy of this branch is traced in  Genesis 22:20-24; but, true to its purpose and the place it occupies in the book, this genealogy brings the family down to Rebekah, and there stops without mentioning Laban. Accordingly, when Rebekah is introduced in the narrative of Genesis 24, she is referred to ( Genesis 24:15 ,  Genesis 24:24 ) in a way that recalls to the reader the genealogy already given; but when her brother Laban is introduced ( Genesis 24:29 ), he is related to his sister by the express announcement, "And Rebekah had brother, and his name was Laban." In this chapter he takes prominent part in the reception of Abraham's servant, and in the determination of his sister's future. That brothers had an effective voice in the marriage of their sisters is evident, not only from extra-Biblical sources, but from the Bible itself; see e.g.  Song of Solomon 8:8 . In Gen 24, however, Laban is perhaps more prominent than even such custom can explain (compare  Genesis 24:31 ,  Genesis 24:50 ,  Genesis 24:55 ), and we are led to see in him already the same forcefulness and egotism that are abundantly shown in the stories from his later life. The man's eager hospitality ( Genesis 24:31 ), coming immediately after his mental inventory of the gifts bestowed by the visitor upon his sister ( Genesis 24:30 ), has usually, and justly, been regarded as a proof of the same greed that is his most conspicuous characteristic in the subsequent chapters.

    The story of that later period in Laban's life is so interwoven with the career of Jacob that little need here be added to what is said of Laban in Jacob , III., 2. (which see). By the time of Jacob's arrival he is already a very old man, for over 90 years had elapsed since Rebekah's departure. Yet even at the end of Jacob's 20 years' residence with him he is represented as still energetic and active ( Genesis 31:19 ,  Genesis 31:23 ), not only ready for an emergency like the pursuit after Jacob, but personally superintending the management of his huge flocks.

    His home is in Haran, "the city of Nahor," that is, the locality where Nahor and his family remained at the time when the rest of Terah's descendants emigrated to Canaan ( Genesis 11:31;  Genesis 12:5 ). Since Haran, and the region about it where his flocks fed, belonged to the district called Aram (see Paddan-Aram; Mesopotamia ), Laban is often called "the Aramean" (English Versions of the Bible, "the Syrian," from Septuagint 5 ὁ Σύπος , ho Súros ); see  Genesis 25:20;  Genesis 28:5;  Genesis 31:20 ,  Genesis 31:24 . It is uncertain how far racial affinity may be read into this term, because the origin and mutual relationships of the various groups or strata of the Sere family are not yet clear. For Laban himself it suffices that he was a Semite, living within the region early occupied by those who spoke the Semetic dialect that we call Aramaic. This dialect is represented in the narrative of Genesis as already differentiated from the dialect of Canaan that was Jacob's mother-tongue; for "the heap of witness," erected by uncle and nephew before they part ( Genesis 31:47 ), is called by the one Jegar - saha - dutha and by the other Galeed - phrases which are equivalent in meaning, the former Aramaic, the latter Hebrew. (Ungnad, Hebrdische Grammatik , 1912, section 6 puts the date of the differentiation of Aramaic from "Amurritish" at "about 1500 BC"; Skinner, "Genesis," ICC , argues that  Genesis 31:47 is a gloss, following Wellhausen, Dillmann, et al.)

    The character of Laban is interesting to observe. On the one hand it shows a family likeness to the portraits of all his relations in the patriarchal group, preeminently, however, to his sister Rebekah, his daughter Rachel, and his nephew Jacob. The nearer related to Laban such figures are, the more conspicuously, as is fitting, do they exhibit Laban's mingled cunning, resourcefulness, greed and self-complacency. And, on the other hand, Laban's character is sui generis  ; the picture we get of him is too personal and complex to be denominated merely a "type." It is impossible to resolve this man Laban into a mythological personage - he is altogether human - or into a tribal representative (e.g. of "Syria" over against "Israel" = Jacob) with any degree of satisfaction to the world of scholarship. Whether a character of reliable family tradition, or of popular story-telling, Laban is "a character"; and his intimate connection with the chief personage in Israel's national recollections makes it highly probable that he is no more and no less historical than Jacob himself (compare Jacob , VI.).

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

    (Hebrew Laban', לָבָן , White, as frequently; comp. Simonis, Onon. V. T. p. 100; Septuag. Λάβαν , but Λοβόν in  Deuteronomy 1:1; Josephus Λάβανος , Ant. i, 16, 2), the name of a man and also of a place.

    1. An Aramwean herd-owner in Mesopotamia, son of Bethuel ( Genesis 28:5), and kinsman of Abraham ( Genesis 24:15;  Genesis 24:29), being a grandson ( בֵּן , not simply "son," as usual; see Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 216) of Nahor ( Genesis 29:5). During the lifetime of his father, and by his own consent, his sister Rebekah was married to Isaac in Palestine ( Genesis 24:50 sq.). B.C. 2024. (See Rebekah).

    Jacob, one of the sons by this marriage, on leaving home through fear of Esau, complied with his parents' wishes by contracting a still closer affinity with the family of his uncle Laban, and while seeking the hand of his daughter Rachel at the price of seven years' toil, was eventually compelled by Laban's artifice to marry first his oldest daughter, Leah (Genesis 29). B.C. 1927-1920. (See Jacob).

    When Jacob, having fulfilled the additional seven years' service thus imposed upon him, and six years more under a contract to take care of his cattle (in which time he managed to repay his overreaching uncle by a less culpable stratagem), was returning by stealth across the Euphrates, Laban pursued him with intentions that were only diverted by a preternatural dream, and, overtaking him at Mt. Gilead, charged him with the abduction of his daughters and the theft of his household gods, which Rachel had clandestinely carried off, and now concealed by a trick characteristic of her family, but was at length pacified, and formed a solemn treaty of amity with Jacob that should mutually bind their posterity (Genesis 30, 31). B.C. 1907. Niemeyer (Charakt. ii, 246) has represented Laban in a very odious light, but his conduct appears to have been in keeping with the customs of the times, and, indeed, of nomades in all ages, and compares not unfavorably with that of Jacob himself. (See Kitto, Daily Illustra. vol. i; Abulfeda, Anteislam, ed. Fleischer, p. 25; Hitzig, Geschichte Israel [Lpz. 1869], p. 40, 49 sq.; Ewald, History of Israel [transl. London, 1869], i, 346 sq.) Winer, ii, 1 sq. " The mere possession of teraphim, which the Jews at no time consistently condemned (comp. Judges 17, 18;  1 Samuel 19:13;  Hosea 3:4), does not prove Laban to have been an idolater; but that he must have been so appears with some probability from 31:53 ('the gods of Nahor'), and from the expression נַחִשְׁתַּי , in 30:27; A. V., I Have Learnt By Experience, but properly ' I have divined' or 'learnt by an augury' (comp. 14, 15;  1 Kings 20:33), showing that he was addicted to pagan superstitions."

    2. A city in the Arabian desert, on the route of the Israelites (Deuteronomy i, 1); probably identical with their twenty-first station, LIBNAH ( Numbers 33:20). Knobel's objections (Erklar. ad loc.) to this identification, that no discourses of Moses at Libnah are recorded, and that the Israelites did not return to that place after reaching Kadesh, are neither of them relevant. He prefers the Itauara of ancient notice (Notit. Dignit. i, 78 sq.; ltauarra of the Peutinger Table, 9:e; Avapa of Ptolemy, 5:17, 5), between Petra and Aela, as having the signification white in Arabic (Steph. Byz. s.v.).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

    La´ban, son of Bethuel, and grandson of Nahor, brother of Rebekah, and father of Jacob's two wives, Leah and Rachel [JACOB].

    References