Genesis 33

1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and with him four hundred men. And he distributed the children to Leah, and to Rachel, and to the two maidservants:
2 and he put the maidservants and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindmost.
3 And he passed on before them, and bowed to the earth seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept.
5 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, Who are these with thee? And he said, The children that God has graciously given thy servant.
6 And the maidservants drew near, they and their children, and they bowed.
7 And Leah also, with her children, drew near, and they bowed. And lastly Joseph drew near, and Rachel, and they bowed.
8 And he said, What [meanest] thou by all the drove which I met? And he said, To find favour in the eyes of my lord.
9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; let what thou hast be thine.
10 And Jacob said, No, I pray thee; if now I have found favour in thine eyes, then receive my gift from my hand; for therefore have I seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou hast received me with pleasure.
11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing which has been brought to thee; because God has been gracious to me, and because I have everything. And he urged him, and he took [it].
12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and go on, and I will go before thee.
13 And he said to him, My lord knows that the children are tender, and the suckling sheep and kine are with me; and if they should overdrive them only one day, all the flock would die.
14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass on before his servant, and I will drive on at my ease according to the pace of the cattle that is before me, and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord, to Seir.
15 And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee [some] of the people that are with me. And he said, What need? Let me find favour in the eyes of my lord.
16 And Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.
17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house, and for his cattle he made booths. Therefore the name of the place was called Succoth.
18 And Jacob came safely [to the] city Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-Aram; and he encamped before the city.
19 And he bought the portion of the field where he had spread his tent, of the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred kesitahs.
20 And there he set up an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

Genesis 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

The friendly meeting of Jacob and Esau. (1-16) Jacob comes to Succoth and Shalem, He builds an altar. (17-20)

Verses 1-16 Jacob, having by prayer committed his case to God, went on his way. Come what will, nothing can come amiss to him whose heart is fixed, trusting in God. Jacob bowed to Esau. A humble, submissive behaviour goes far towards turning away wrath. Esau embraced Jacob. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases. It is not in vain to trust in God, and to call upon him in the day of trouble. And when a man's ways please the Lord he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Esau receives Jacob as a brother, and much tenderness passes between them. Esau asks, Who are those with thee? To this common question, Jacob spoke like himself, like a man whose eyes are ever directed towards the Lord. Jacob urged Esau, though his fear was over, and he took his present. It is well when men's religion makes them generous, free-hearted, and open-handed. But Jacob declined Esau's offer to accompany him. It is not desirable to be too intimate with superior ungodly relations, who will expect us to join in their vanities, or at least to wink at them, though they blame, and perhaps mock at, our religion. Such will either be a snare to us, or offended with us. We shall venture the loss of all things, rather than endanger our souls, if we know their value; rather than renounce Christ, if we truly love him. And let Jacob's care and tender attention to his family and flocks remind us of the good Shepherd of our souls, who gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young, ( Isaiah 40:11 ) . As parents, teachers or pastors, we should all follow his example.

Verses 17-20 Jacob did not content himself with words of thanks for God's favour to him, but gave real thanks. Also he kept up religion, and the worship of God in his family. Where we have a tent, God must have an altar. Jacob dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel; to the honour of God, the only living and true God; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Israel's God is Israel's glory. Blessed be his name, he is still the mighty God, the God of Israel. May we praise his name, and rejoice in his love, through our pilgrimage here on earth, and for ever in the heavenly Canaan.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Strictly 'goods:' see Ex. 22.8,11.
  • [b]. Booths, or huts.
  • [c]. Or 'to Shalem.'
  • [d]. Or 'allotment.'
  • [e]. Kesitah, a weight of precious metal. Supposed value about four shekels.
  • [f]. God, the God of Israel.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 33

In this chapter we find Esau meeting Jacob in a friendly manner, contrary to his fears and expectation, having set his family in order in case of the worst, Ge 33:1-4; putting questions to Jacob concerning the women and children with him, who make their obeisance to him as Jacob had done before, Ge 33:5-7; and concerning the drove he met, which was a present to him, and which he refused at first to take, but at the urgency of Jacob accepted of it, Ge 33:8-11; proposing to travel with him, unto which Jacob desired to be excused, he, with the women, children, and flocks, not being able to keep pace with him, Ge 33:12-14, and to leave some of his men with him to guard him, which Jacob judged unnecessary, upon which they parted friendly, Ge 33:15,16; and the chapter is concluded with an account of Jacob's journey, first to Succoth, then to Shalem, where he pitched his tent, bought a field and built an altar, Ge 33:17-20.

Genesis 33 Commentaries