54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.

Breaking bread together has long been seen as a symbol of peace and friendliness. Jacob did not send away Laban and his men as soon as the matter of their separation was resolved, he invited them to share a meal and spend the night. Of course, it isn’t like Jacob was inviting them to stay at a well-furnished home, they were still out in the middle of the mountains, but the intent behind the gesture is what matters. Then Laban made his farewells, and left Jacob and his entourage in peace.

This may not seem like a very significant exchange, but I am grateful that it was preserved in the Old Testament record. It shows an example of two men who do not like each other, who need to get away from each other to preserve peace, who have personal flaws and failings, but who are still able to part on amicable terms. What a wonderful example to us that even when we are hurt and must remove ourselves from others, there is a way to do so with dignity and respect. It may not be possible for everyone to be our friend, but it is possible to not make ourselves someone’s enemy.

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