29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the Lord hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also? 32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire. 33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me. 34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.
Jacob had wanted to leave Laban’s employ, and Laban instead told him to name his price and stay. Rather than declare a clear sum, Jacob proposed a transaction of uncertain quantities. He would continue to care for and increase Laban’s herd, and after doing so he would separate all of the speckled and striped cattle for himself. If that happened to be a hundredth of the flock he would only have a hundredth, if it was half he would have half.
Laban heard the offer and he agreed. In time he would realize that that was a very poor decision. He had signed a blank check, and Jacob would use cunning tactics to siphon much of the man’s wealth into his own pocket. Laban would have been far better off to just let Jacob go when he first requested it.
And that reveals an important failing in Laban’s reasoning. He saw that Jacob was blessed of God, and he wanted to manipulate that gift for his own benefit. But we should not try to contort the vessels of God to our own will. We will end up worse off than we were before.