Laban (Bible)

Laban and Jacob make a covenant together, as narrated in Genesis 31:44–54

Laban (Hebrew: לָבָן, Modern: Lavan, Tiberian: Lāḇān, "White") is a figure in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. He was the brother of Rebekah, who married Isaac and bore Jacob. Laban welcomed his nephew as a young man, and set him the stipulation of seven years' labour before he permitted him to marry his daughter Rachel. Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his elder daughter Leah instead. Jacob then took both women as wives.

Laban and his family were described as dwelling in Paddan Aram, in Mesopotamia. Though the biblical text itself does not attest to this, Rabbinic sources also identify him as the father of Bilhah and Zilpah, the two concubines with whom Jacob also has children (Midrash Raba, Gen 24)


Laban first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 24:29–60 as the grown spokesman for his father Bethuel's house; he was impressed by the gold jewelry given to his sister on behalf of Isaac, and played a key part in arranging their marriage. Twenty years later, Laban's nephew Jacob was born to Isaac and Rebekah.

When grown, Jacob comes to work for Laban. The biblical narrative provides a framework for dating these events: Jacob begat Joseph 14 years after his flight to Laban; Joseph entered Pharaoh's service at age 30; and from that point, after seven years of plenty and two years of famine, Jacob met Pharaoh and stated his age as 130. Subtracting yields an age of 77 (Jacob at his flight to Laban). Laban was more than 30 years older than Jacob, and employed him for 20 years.

Laban promised his younger daughter Rachel to Jacob in return for seven years' service, only to trick him into marrying his elder daughter Genesis 31).

Laban can be seen as symbolizing those whose concern for the welfare of their immediate family, nominally a virtue, is taken to the point where it has lasting negative ramifications. Laban's urge to ensure his older daughter not be left unmarried can be interpreted as leading to the Exile in Egypt; his anxiety over seeing his son-in-law throw away his family's comfortable position in Aram in search of a risky new beginning back in Canaan leads him to oppose the return of the Children of Israel to the Promised Land.[1] His name can also be seen as symbolic in this matter: it means "white", the visual representation of purity, without visible stain, symbolizing those without apparent evil motives whose actions nevertheless result in undesirable outcomes.

Other Languages
العربية: لابان
تۆرکجه: لابان
беларуская: Лаван (Біблія)
brezhoneg: Lavan
català: Laban
čeština: Lában
Deutsch: Laban (Bibel)
Ελληνικά: Λάβαν
español: Labán
Esperanto: Labano (Biblio)
فارسی: لابان
français: Laban
Bahasa Indonesia: Laban
italiano: Labano
עברית: לבן הארמי
Bahasa Melayu: Laban
日本語: ラバン
polski: Laban
português: Labão
română: Laban
русский: Лаван
српски / srpski: Лабан
suomi: Laaban
Tagalog: Laban
українська: Лаван
اردو: لابان
ייִדיש: לבן
中文: 拉班