Genesis 33 - Outline of Genesis (MENU page)
33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold,
Esau came, and with him four hundred men.
And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
33:2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after,
and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
33:3 And he passed over before them,
and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Jacob again made preparation according to fleshly wisdom.-
  1. he divided his family, and set them in order.
    Those who he cared for least would be exposed to danger first.
  2. he went first.- Perhaps if Esau took vengeance on him, he would spare the others.
Jacob has not yet learned to live according to his new name: Israel {'God prevails'}.
If he had been fully trusting God, he would have had no need for these arrangements.
In fact, all of his planning (here and in ch.32) proves to be unnecessary.
''We do not fully trust Him, because we do not fully know Him.'' cp. Job 22:21; Joh 17:3 [CHM]
33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him:
and they wept.
33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children;
and said, Who [are] those with thee?
And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.
33:6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
33:7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves:
and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
33:8 And he said, What [meanest] thou by all this drove which I met?
And he said, [These are] to find grace in the sight of my lord.
33:9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
33:10 And Jacob said, Nay,
I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand:
for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God,
and thou wast pleased with me.
33:11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee;
because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.
And he urged him, and he took [it].
33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
33:13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children [are] tender,
and the flocks and herds with young [are] with me:
and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
33:14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly,
according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure,
until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
33:15 And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee [some] of the folk that [are] with me.
And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.
33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.
Esau's warm welcome shows that-
- - God had prepared his heart.
- - Jacob's fears were groundless, and his schemes were needless.
Esau's amazement at the generousity of the gift speaks of the evident change in Jacob.
Once he used trickery to satisfy his greed.
Now, he knew that God had graciously given him 'enough,' and more than enough.
Jacob refused Esau's offer of an armed escort (v.12,15)
- - for the reasons which he spoke (v.13,14),
- - and perhaps also, due to lingering distrust of Esau.
33:17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle:
therefore the name of the place is called Succoth
{booths, made of branches}.
33:18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which [is] in the land of Canaan,
{or, 'Jacob came in peace to Shechem, a city which is in the land of Canaan'}
when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
33:19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent,
at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.
{cp. Josh 24:32}
33:20 And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-israel.
Jacob settled in Succoth near Shechem-
  1. although, he had told Esau that he would follow him to Seir (v.14).
    Apparently, Jacob felt it wise to maintain some distance between Esau and himself.
    Again, we see evidence of his distrust of Esau, and also of God, who promised to protect him.
  2. although, 'the God of Bethel' had called him back to the promised land (31:13).
    He had come into Canaan, but he stopped short of Bethel.
    His choice of dwelling place would soon lead to trouble.
El-elohe-israel - ie., 'God, the God of Israel' -
  • Jacob exercised faith by appropriating his new name, and by worshipping the One who alone could enable him to apply its meaning to his life.
  • Yet, his view of God was inadequate, being defined and centered on himself (Israel).
    But his knowledge of God was growing. Through difficult life experiences, Jacob would soon comprehend Him as El-bethel {the God of the House of God}, defined according to His revelation of Himself and of His Covenant purposes for His people. cp. 35:1,7

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