Then Jacob became angry and reproached and argued with Laban. And Jacob said to Laban, What is my fault? What is my sin, that you so hotly pursued after me? [The Amplified Bible]
Why was Laban making such a great commotion about some small idols?
It had never been satisfactorily explained until the answer was found in the excavated Nuzi tablets [J.P. Free in Archaeology Illuminates the Bible], which showed that possession of the father’s household gods played an important role in inheritance [W.F. Albright in “Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands”, supplement to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, 1936].
One of the Nuzi tablets indicated that in the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family images could appear in court and make claim to the estate of his father-in-law [various authors cited by Allan A. MacRae in “The Relation of Archaeology to the Bible,” in Modern Science and Christian Faith].
Since Jacob’s possession of the images implied the right to inheritance of Laban’s wealth, one can understand why Laban organized his hurried expedition to recover images [J.P. Free in Archaeology and Bible History, adapted].
– The Amplified Bible: page 41.