In Bereshis 31:33 the pasuk describes Lavan's search for his idols in Yaakov's tents:

וַיָּבֹא לָבָן בְּאֹהֶל יַעֲקֹב | וּבְאֹהֶל לֵאָה וּבְאֹהֶל שְׁתֵּי הָאֲמָהֹת וְלֹא מָצָא וַיֵּצֵא מֵאֹהֶל לֵאָה וַיָּבֹא בְּאֹהֶל רָחֵל: So Laban entered Jacob's tent and Leah's tent and the tent[s] of the two handmaids, but he did not find [them]; and he had come out of Leah's tent and entered Rachel's tent.

Rashi there explains that when it says Yaakov's tent that really also means Rachel's tent. He further explains (based on the midrash) that Lavan went back and searched Rachel's tent a second time because, "she was one who touches everything."

I'm having a hard time understanding the following

  1. If Yaakov's tent = Rachel's tent why isn't the pasuk consistent. Either call it Yaakov's tent both times or Rachel's tent both times.
  2. If Lavan went back to Rachel's tent after checking Leah's why doesn't the pasuk record things in that order, meaning why is the mention of checking the handmaid's tents inserted there?

2 Answers 2


During the first time he went into "Yaakov's tesnt" because he was the main person that he suspected. When he went back, since he had already searched Yaakov's posessions completely, he had realized that he had not been thorough enough with Rachel's possessions. Apparently he first suspected Yaakov, then Leah as the "first wife". He then realized that Rachel could have been the one involved "because she was the one who touches everything". He then searched the handmaids' posessions because they could have been acting on orders. He did not search them first because he suspected their master or mistresses of having been involved. Since they were "sacred" objects he would not have suspected "servants" of daring to steal them.

From memory. I do not remember the exact sources.


As I pointed out here, the Midrash that Rashi's comments are based on actually cites the verse slightly differently:

ויבא לבן באהל יעקב ובאהל רחל באהל יעקב שהוא אהלה של רחל

And Lavan came in the tent of Yaakov and the tent of Rachel – In the tent of Yaakov which is the tent of Rachel.

It is very possible that the Midrash added in the words ובאהל רחל to address your first question, or that the Midrashic author actually had those words in his text (though I have not found any other source that would corroborate that). Interestingly, the Pirchei Aharon argues precisely the opposite, that Rashi's explanation is necessary precisely because the verse did not say ובאהל רחל.

As for your second question, Rashi does not address the order but several other rishonim do (see the above link again). Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Bechor Shor, Radak, and Ramban suggest that the Torah wrote it out of order for the stylistic purpose of not having the elaboration by Rachel interrupt the flow of the verse. Ibn Ezra alternatively suggests that Lavan went back to Leah's tent after going to the maidservants' tent and then went to Rachel's tent, so the verse is in order. Rabbeinu Bachya suggests that the maidservants' tent was inside of Leah's tent so that when Lavan exited the maidservants' tent he then had to still go out of Leah's tent in order to get to Rachel's tent.

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