25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. 27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake. 28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.
Jacob came to this land alone, but now he had become head of a great household. He came here without occupation, but now he had become the master of the cattle. All of his work in the field, though, had gone to the dominion of his uncle Laban. Jacob had become powerful, but Laban was the one that had been made rich.
Thus, Jacob had reached the pinnacle of what he could be while still under Laban’s trappings. This role had grown too small for him, and the time for living underneath another man’s shadow had passed. After many years, he was finally ready to leave this chapter for a new one.
But where Laban graciously extended his protection over Jacob when he arrived in want, he proved clingy when Jacob wanted to leave. Only now, when his nephew was on the cusp of leaving did he suggest paying Jacob for his work. To me that seems incredibly insulting, but as we will see, the situation turns to Jacob’s favor in the end.