17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padan-aram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s.
20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.
Things had certainly deteriorated very far between Jacob and Laban, that Jacob would feel it necessary to steal away in secret. Given that he was living three day’s journey away it must not have been very hard to sneak away. But it is important to note that he did not depart secretly because he was a thief. He took only the things that belonged to him, the cattle that he had earned and not the ones that he didn’t.
What’s more, it does not appear that he abandoned his duties to Laban’s cattle either. Verse 19 seems to suggest that he did not leave them to fend for themselves, but waited until Laban took them in from the field for their shearing.
But while Jacob may have conducted himself honestly and honorably, the same could not be said for Rachel. Before leaving she stole the images, or idols, of her father. There are a few disturbing details here. First, evidently Laban was worshipping false gods, which is another mark against his character. Secondly, why did Rachel take them? Had she inherited her father’s superstitious idolatry? Did she intend to sell them to make up for receiving no dowry? I suppose she might have been trying to remove the temptation from her father, but overall, her behavior seems highly suspect.