Why Did Rachel Steal Images?
When Rachel went to the land of Canaan with her husband Jacob, she took with her the images belonging to her father Laban (Genesis 31:19). Laban went in quick pursuit after Jacob once he realized his images had been stolen. Rachel then placed them in the saddle bags of her camel (verse 34) but Laban did not look there for ritualistic reasons.
But why was Laban so concerned about those things? Archaeology has probably found the answer. Some images dated near the time of Jacob had inscribed on them title deeds to lands or other properties. "A Mesopotamian document of adoption from Nuzi suggests that the possessor of these images was the legitimate heir to the family property" (Interpreters One Volume Dictionary, p. 23).
It should be noted that Laban quit pursuing his image-title deeds once Jacob and he erected a cairn of stones over which they both swore to the God of their fathers that Jacob would not claim property north of the cairn and that Laban would claim nothing south of it (Genesis 31:45-55). The land north of this boundary cairn made the possession of the title deeds redundant. Laban got the inheritance to all his land after all. This may be one reason that the northern area on the Mediterranean coast became known as Lebanon (that is, Labans Land).
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