“And Laban went to sheare his sheepe: and Rachel had stollen the Images that were her fathers.”
1611 King James Version (KJV)
31:19 Laban went to shear his sheep - That part of his flock which was in the hands of his sons, three days journey off. Now, It is certain it was lawful for Jacob to leave his service suddenly: it was not only justified by the particular instructions God gave him, but warranted by the fundamental law of self - preservation which directs us, when we are in danger, to shift for our own safety, as far as we can do it without wronging our consciences. It was his prudence to steal away unawares to Laban, lest if Laban had known, he should have hindered him, or plundered him. It was honestly done to take no more than his own with him, the cattle of his getting. He took what providence gave him, and would not take the repair of his damages into his own hands. Yet Rachel was not so honest as her husband; she stole her father's images, and carried them away. The Hebrew calls them Teraphim. Some think they were only little representations of the ancestors of the family in statue or picture, which Rachel had a particular fondness for, and was desirous to have with her now she was going into another country. It should rather seem they were images for a religious use, penates, household gods, either worshipped, or consulted as oracles; and we are willing to hope, that she took them away, not out of covetousness much less for her own use, or out of any superstitious fear lest Laban, by consulting his teraphim, might know which way they were gone; (Jacob no doubt dwelt with his wives as a man of knowledge, and they were better taught than so) but with a design to convince her father of the folly of his regard to those as gods which could not secure themselves.