Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Estate of Amy Warren Paterson, 1981 (1983.73.6)

Idols and jewels fill the small wooden chests that the women in Jacob’s household present to the robed patriarch, at left, in this 16th-century Flemish tapestry. In the distance, other members of the household bury the elaborate goods beneath a tree.

Stopping on his journey from Haran, Jacob ordered all those with him to purify themselves as they approached Beth-El. In response, “they gave Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that was near Shechem” (Genesis 35:4). “All the alien gods” that Jacob buried must have included those Rachel had stolen from her father Laban. Then and there, Jacob must have realized the tragic impact of his vow to Laban: that he had unknowingly doomed his beloved Rachel.