a. Part 1 – The pillar. Jacob agrees to enter into a covenant with Laban and begins the proceedings. Jacob goes out and finds a stone and sets it up as a pillar. Throughout the Bible, you find different visible signs of a covenant. You have things like sacrificing animals or giving of a sandal. God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision. All of these are visible signs and are meant to establish the seriousness and security of the covenant. Remember that Jacob set up a pillar when God spoke to him at Bethel and he made his vow. That was a visible sign, confirming what God and Jacob said. It was meant to be a reminder and if someone violated the agreement you could go back and say, “See, here is the witness against you.” Not only does Jacob set up his stone but he tells his kinsmen to gather stones and make a heap of the stones. Each person added their stone to the heap like we would sign our name to a contract. b. Part 2 – The name. Along with setting up the stones, the place was also given a ceremonial name. Again, we see this when Jacob named the pillar he set up with God, Bethel. They both name the place “the heap of witness” but Laban uses the Aramaic and Jacob the Hebrew. Laban also named the place Mizpah or watch post saying, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.” This is very telling of Laban’s view of Jacob and shows that he fears retaliation from Jacob. Laban invokes the name of God, calling God to keep an eye on both of them in case they try to deceive each other again. Of course, Laban really wants God to keep an eye on Jacob. c. Part 3 – The conditions. Next, Laban states what he wants out of the covenant. First, he says you cannot oppress my daughters. This is a very interesting statement coming from a man who treated his daughters like goods to be sold. Nevertheless, that’s what he desires for his daughters. The second condition is that Jacob could not take any other wives besides his daughters. This would protect the inheritance of his grandchildren from being given to a child that was not related to him. The final condition is that they never pass by the pillar with the intent to do each other harm. Laban, being the weaker house, is trying to provide security for himself from Jacob who is the stronger. No doubt he is thinking that Jacob may come back someday to take vengeance or to take away what Laban has left. d. Part 4 – The sacrifice. In 53-54, Jacob offers a sacrifice and they both swear to the covenant. Laban swears by the God of Abraham, whom Jacob had descended and the God of Nahor, whom Laban had descended, and the God of their father, who is Terah, whom both Jacob and Laban have as a common ancestor. Jacob does not take the same oath. He swears by the Fear of Isaac instead. Why does he do this? Most assume that Jacob thought it better to swear by the God whom his father Isaac feared because he had never served other gods, unlike his other ancestors. Joshua will remind the nation of Israel. “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.” Joshua 24:2. It would seem that Joshua followed Jacob’s example when he says, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” e. Part 5 – The meal. The last component of the covenant is the ceremonial meal. The sitting down and feasting together indicate the end of any strife between them. This is a meal of friendship. We have seen an example of this kind of meal before. If you got back to Genesis 26, Isaac sat down and feasted with Abimelech after they had agreed to not have any hostility between them. Enemies don’t sit and feast together.