Chapter 33

  1. Jacob Meets Esau

    • Jacob saw Esau coming with 400 men, so he divided up the children between Leah, Rachel, and the two slaves. The slaves were in front, followed by Leah, then Rachel and Joseph in the rear.

    • Jacob went ahead of them and approached Esau bowing 7 times.

    • Esau ran to Jacob, embraced him, and hugged and kissed him. He then asked who the women and children were that were with him.

    • Jacob replied that they were the children God had given him. They then approached Esau and bowed: the slaves and their children first, then Leah and her children, then Rachel and Joseph.

    • Esau asked Jacob, “Why did you send all the flocks and herds ahead of you?”

    • Jacob responded that he sent them as a gift, hoping that he and Esau could be on friendly terms.

    • But Esau responded, “Keep your herds my brother, I have enough.”

      • “Both Esau and Jacob have a blessed testimony: I have enough. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). Esau’s peace and contentment showed him to be a remarkably blessed man, though he did not receive the promise of the Abrahamic covenant as he had hoped.” (Guzik)

    • Jacob insisted, “Please! If you look on me favorably, then please accept these gifts. I am so relieved to see your friendly face, that it is like seeing God’s face. God has been so gracious to me that I have much more than I need, so please accept these gifts from me.”

    • Since Jacob insisted, Esau accepted his gifts.

      • Guzik explains that Esau’s acceptance of Jacob’s gift was particularly significant in their culture, “This was as important to the reconciliation as Jacob’s giving the gifts. When Jacob gave such generous gifts, it was his way of saying to Esau he was sorry and when Esau accepted the gifts, it was his way of accepting Jacob and saying he was forgiven…In that culture, one never accepted a gift from an enemy, only from a friend. To accept the gift was to accept the friendship.”

    • Esau said, “Let’s begin the journey home. I’ll lead the way.”

    • But Jacob asked Esau to go on ahead of them since he needed to travel more slowly and take breaks for the children and the young and nursing animals in his herds and flocks. Jacob said that he’d meet Esau in Seir.

    • Esau said, “At least let me leave some of my men with you.”

    • But Jacob declined saying that really wasn’t necessary.

    • So Esau departed for Seir.

    • But instead of coming to Seir, Jacob turned and went to Succoth where he built a house and shelter for his cattle. (Succoth means “shelters”)

      • “Jacob’s lie manifests his old character, living by deception rather than by faith…Rather than following Esau south to Seir as promised, Jacob again deceived his brother, then headed in the opposite direction to Succoth, east of the Jordan River and north of the Jabbok.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Jacob had traveled all the way from Paddan-aram to the Canaanite city of Schechem, where he camped in front of the city.

    • He then bought the section of the field where he had pitched his tent from the Hamor family (Shechem’s father), for 100 quesitas.

      • “It is good Jacob came to the Promised Land, and he settled there. But he came short of full obedience, because it seems God directed him to return to Bethel (Genesis 31:13).” (Guzik)

    • Jacob built an altar here and named it El-Elohe-Israel, which means “God, the God of Israel”.

Map from