laban Summary and Overview
laban in Easton's Bible Dictionary
white. (1.) The son of Bethuel, who was the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother. He lived at Haran in Mesopotamia. His sister Rebekah was Isaac's wife (Gen. 24). Jacob, one of the sons of this marriage, fled to the house of Laban, whose daughters Leah and Rachel (ch. 29) he eventually married. (See JACOB T0001945.) (2.) A city in the Arabian desert in the route of the Israelites (Deut. 1:1), probably identical with Libnah (Num. 33:20).
laban in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(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. #Ge 24:10,29-60; 27:43; 29:5| The next time Laban appears in the sacred narrative it is as the host of his nephew Jacob at Haran. #Ge 29:13,14| [JACOB] Jacob married Rachel and Leah, daughters of Laban, and remained with him 20 years, B.C. 1760-1740. But Laban's dishonest 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 #De 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. #Nu 33:20|
laban in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
LA'BAN (white), son of Bethuel, grandson of Nahor, grand-nephew of Abraham, brother of Rebekah, and father of Leah and Rachel. He lived in Haran, the old family home. There he hospitably received Abraham's servant, according to the custom of the country, as head of the house, and took the chief part in betrothing Rebekah to Isaac. Gen 24:29; Gen 25:20. To him Rebekah sent Jacob after their trick had angered Esau, Gen 27:43, Isaac adding the charge that his son was to take a wife of the daughters of Laban. Gen 28:2, 1 Chr 6:5. Laban cordially received him. Gen 29:5, 1 Kgs 16:10, and to gain his valuable services engaged him and allowed him to name his own wages. He asked for Rachel, and through love for her served seven years. At the end of that time Laban cheated him by giving him Leah, Heb 12:23, and afterward he gave him Rachel, for whom Jacob served seven years more. Acts 20:28. In the six additional years during which Jacob remained in Mesopotamia, he managed by artifice and shepherd's skill to transfer the best part of his uncle's flocks to himself. Gen 30. Then, through the jealousy of Laban, now in his old age, and the influence of his sons, and the estrangement of his daughters, and the anger of Jacob at being deceived, and at having his wages changed so often, there came an open rupture. While Laban was absent shearing sheep, Jacob, expecting to be plundered, stealthily fled toward Canaan with his family, and retinue, and flocks, and household goods. Gen 31. Laban followed in wrath and overtook the slow caravan among the mountains of Gilead, Gen 31:25, but God checked him from violence, Prov 31:24. He was again outwitted by Rachel in his search for the teraphim, Gen 31:34; but, after some sharp wrangling, and a falsehood as to the grounds of his displeasure, he and Jacob set up a stone and a cairn as a witness of the covenant proposed by Laban, and a boundary beyond which neither was to pass to harm the other, Gen 31:44; and Laban then took a loving farewell and went back to Mesopotamia, and appeared no more, being only referred to as the past history is brought up. Ex 32:4; Gen 46:18, Gen 46:25. Laban appears first as showing a hearty hospitality, but later as having hardened into a tricky, grasping, unprincipled, harsh, selfish old man.
laban in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("white".) Bethuel's son; grandson of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Genesis 28:5; Genesis 29:5). Rebekah's brother (Genesis 24:29-31; Genesis 24:50-51; Genesis 24:55). It was "when he saw the earring and bracelets" given by Eliezer to Rebekah he was lavish in his professions of hospitality, "come in thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without?" etc. Bethuel either had just died (Josephus, Ant. 1:16, and Hebrew tradition) or was of weak character, so that Laban is prominent in arranging for Rebekah's marriage to Isaac; but Niebuhr observes Eastern custom, then as now, gave brothers the main share in defending sisters' honour and settling as to their marriage (Genesis 34:13; Judges 21:22; 2 Samuel 13:20-29). (See BETHUEL.) Active and stirring, but selfish and grasping. By his daughters Leah and Rachel he was progenitor of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (of which tribe Christ came), Issachar, and Zebulun, one half of the whole Israelite nation, besides Dinah. When Abraham emigrated to Canaan the part of the family to which Laban belonged remained in Haran (Genesis 27:43; Genesis 29:1 ff). Ungenerously, he took 14 years of Jacob his nephew's service, when Jacob had covenanted with him for seven only; he tried to retain his labour without paying his labour's worth (Genesis 31). Ten times (i.e. very frequently, Numbers 14:22) he changed his wages when constrained to remunerate him; and as a covetous master made Jacob accountable for all of the flock that were stolen or torn. Jacob, during the absence of Laban, sheep-shearing, stole away with his family and flocks, crossing the Euphrates for the W.; on the third day Laban heard of it, and after seven days overtook him E. of Jordan. His daughters felt they had no longer inheritance or interest in their father's house, as Laban had sold them, as if strangers, to Jacob for his service, and took all the profit of that service to himself, virtually, said they, "devouring our money" (Genesis 31:14-16), i.e. consuming the property brought to him by Jacob's service for us. Rachel stole the teraphim perhaps to ensure a prosperous journey ... would have still sent him empty away but for God's interposition. Laban then, suppressing in silence what had been his design really, pretended that his displeasure was only at Jacob's secret departure and the theft of his gods (Genesis 31:5; Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:9; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 31:16; Genesis 31:24; Genesis 31:26-27; Genesis 31:29; Genesis 31:42), and that otherwise he would have "sent him away with songs, tabret, and harp." Laban could cloak his covetousness with hypocrisy too. When about to make merchandise of his own kinsman, he said to Jacob at their first meeting "surely thou art my bone and my flesh." (On the length of Jacob's service, 40 years probably, Jacob Laban imposed at the first seven years' close the unattractive Leah on him instead of the younger Rachel whom he loved and for whom he had served. (See JACOB.) Yet he was shrewd enough to appreciate the temporal prosperity which Jacob's presence by his piety brought with it, but he had no desire to imitate his piety (Genesis 30:27), and finally, when foiled by God in his attempts to overreach and rob Jacob, Laban made a covenant with him, of which the cairn was a memorial, called by Laban, JEGAR SAHADUTHA, and by Jacob Galeed and Mizpah; it was also to be the bound beyond which neither must pass to assail the other. (See GALEED; MIZPAH.) Unscrupulous duplicity and acquisitiveness and hypocritical craft in Laban were overruled to discipline Jacob whose natural character had much of the same elements, but without the hypocrisy, and restrained by genuine grace. Laban was overmatched by Jacob's shrewdness, and restrained from doing him real hurt by God's interposition. Henceforth Israel's connection with the family of Haran ceased; providentially so, for the incipient idolatry and cunning worldliness of the latter could only influence for evil the former.