Ethical Issues in the Historical Books of Tanach;
SPIRITUAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE BEREISHIT STORIES
These four books ostensibly are merely the history of Israel from the entry into the Promised Land until the destruction of the Temple and the temporary loss of independent statehood. In fact they are actually, in a specifically Jewish sense, the most deeply religious and spiritual books of the Bible. One does not have to be specifically Jewish to see or feel the religion and spirituality in the revelations of the prophetic writings or in the words of the Tehillim. They speak to all people, as evidenced by the fact that the Bible is still the world's bestseller and there are millions of non-Jews who regularly recite the Psalms. However, it is specifically and intrinsically Jewish to understand that G-d is revealed in the prosaic material, in the political, social and military events in the lives of ordinary men and women, kings and leaders that are described in the Nevim Rishonim. Here are described the ideology and religious thoughts in Judaism, while in Chronicles we have the purely historical.
These are the Sons of Yaakov 
The two missions set by Rifka and Yitschak that Yaakov had gone to Haran to fulfill, were to find a wife and to wait till the anger of Eisav had subsided. When Rachel gave birth to Yosef, Yaakov had wives and 11 sons. Furthermore, "Rivka, in fulfillment of her commitment to Yaakov, sent her nurse Devora to tell him that the threat of Eisav no longer was imminent" (B'reishit Rabba). Now that both missions were completed why did Yaakov not leave Haran and return home? The birth of Yosef was an appropriate time to do so, as it was the completion of Beit Yaakov; Yaakov saw through prophecy that Binyamin would be born in Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, Yosef was the antidote to Eisav. "Eisav will only be defeated by the sons of Rachel" (B'reishit Rabba 73:7); at the hands of Yehoshua, Shaul, Mordechai and Esther. Was he then so materialistic as to prefer the additional 6 year sojourn away from his parents and outside the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael for the sake of flocks and herds?
However, there was the Divine Promise inherent in his blessing by Yitschak still to be fulfilled before he could leave: "May G-d give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and abundance of corn and wine". For him to leave Haran with the bare minimum needed for the sustenance of his large family would make a mockery of this blessing. Yaakov's material success in Haran is similar to the despoiling of Egypt by Israel in fulfillment of G-d's promise to Avraham (B'r. 15:14). It is significant that the Patriarchs were all wealthy men, in contrast to all other faiths where the founders were either poor men or left wealth in order to find their religion.
We see nothing spiritually uplifting in poverty and no mitzva in being poor. Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, sees the fact that the korbanot were of strong, unblemished and mature animals as teaching that Judaism is a faith in which the spiritual challenges are to the rich, successful, strong, and capable.
For Yaakov there was an additional consideration above mere materialism. "Just as there were sparks of holiness among the daughters of Lavan - Rachel, Leah, Zilpa and Bilha - that had to be redeemed from Haran and brought into Klal Yisrael, so too there were holy sparks, albeit of a lower level, amongst his material possessions that had to be redeemed" (Shem MiShmuel).
Yaakov's request for permission to leave was not legally obligatory on him, but rather a gesture of respect and gratitude. It is true that Lavan had cheated him out of his wages many times, nevertheless, he was the one who had given him refuge and was the father of his wives.
Similarly, Abarbanel explains that because of their kindness to Yaakov and his family, we are commanded not to hate the Egyptians despite their enslavement and ill-treatment of us (D'varim 23:8).
"Lavan, like those who have given up true piety but believe that superstition is piety, says that he has had a divination that G-d has blessed him because Yaakov is such a pious man. To which Yaakov replies that it is not because of his piety that G-d had increased Lavan's wealth but because of his diligence" (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch). In addition to his diligence and hard work in Lavan's service, Yaakov's true piety does shine out in his labor relations. His demand that the speckled, spotted and discolored among the sheep and goats should be his wages was not sign of greed or shrewd calculation, but rather the sign whereby his righteousness would shine, as he himself says: "In the future if you suspect me of misdoing, then it shall testify against me, against my righteousness, when you check over my wages that everyone in my possession which is not spotted or spotted among the goats and brown among the sheep is stolen by me" (B'r. 30:33).
"This desire to be even above suspicion is a great and fundamental disclosure, a fulfillment of "you shall be clean before G-d and Israel (Bamidbar 32:22). "The Kohen who collected the maaser money from the special room in which the people deposited them, did so barefoot, without teffilin and wearing a shift without sleeves and pockets" (Mishna Shekalim 3:2); this made even the appearance of stealing impossible, so that people should not say that he became wealthy from these collections. It behooved even such pious people as Aharon and his descendants to ensure that it was clearly evident that they were clean. Similarly, it is not permitted to make a loan [interest free] without witnesses, even to a talmid chacham (Hilkhot Malveh v'Loveh 2:7). [So too, the collection of charity has to be monitored, and the gabai tzedaka's personal funds and communal monies kept separate (Shulkhan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah 256,257)]. It should be clear that this is over and above any question of real suspicion, but rather so that a person's righteousness should shine forth like untarnished gold, without hidden corners or cracks [no grey areas]; even as in the 'House of G-d' there are no dark and hidden rooms" (Da'at Torah, R Yerucham Levovitz, Yeshivat Mir).
This is installment #140 in Dr. Tamari’s series on “Tanach and its messages for our times”