LA HYRE, Laurent de
(b. 1606, Paris, d. 1656, Paris)

Laban Searching Jacob's Bagagge for the Stolen Idols

Oil on canvas, 95 x 133 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The biblical story represented in this painting is the following.

Jacob, the son of Isaac and the twin brother of Esau, fled from his brother's wrath, taking refuge with his uncle Laban in Mesopotamia. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah the elder, was rheumy eyed, but Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob undertook to serve Laban as a herdsman for seven years in return for Rachel whom he wished to marry. At the wedding feast Laban substituted Leah by a trick, and then demanded another seven years labour from Jacob before he should obtain Rachel.

At the end Jacob set off secretly to return to Canaan with both wives and his children and possessions. In parting, Rachel stole her father's teraphim, the small sacred figurines which were his 'household gods'. When he discovered the theft Laban set off in pursuit, overtook the party and searched their tents and belongings. Rachel promptly hid the teraphim in a camel's saddle and sat on it, saying to her father, 'do not take it amiss, sir, that I cannot rise in your presence, the common lot of women is upon me.' Jacob and Laban had a reconciliation before they parted.