Genesis 33

Listen to Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau

1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, 1Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants.
2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all.
3 He himself went on before them, 2bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 3But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him 4and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, "Who are these with you?" Jacob said, 5"The children whom God has graciously given your servant."
6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down.
7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down.
8 Esau said, "What do you mean by 6all this company[a] that I met?" Jacob answered, 7"To find favor in the sight of my lord."
9 But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself."
10 Jacob said, "No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. 8For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.
11 Please accept my 9blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." Thus he 10urged him, and he took it.
12 Then Esau said, "Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of[b] you."
13 But Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die.
14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord 11in Seir."
15 So Esau said, "Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me." But he said, "What need is there? 12Let me find favor in the sight of my lord."
16 So Esau returned that day on his way to 13Seir.
17 But Jacob journeyed to 14Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.[c]
18 And Jacob came safely[d] to the city of 15Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city.
19 And from the sons of 16Hamor, Shechem's father, 17he bought for a hundred pieces of money[e] the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent.
20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.[f]

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.

Cross References 17

  • 1. Genesis 32:6
  • 2. Genesis 18:2; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26
  • 3. Genesis 32:28
  • 4. Genesis 45:14
  • 5. Genesis 48:9; Psalms 127:3; Isaiah 8:18
  • 6. Genesis 32:16
  • 7. ver. 15; Genesis 32:5
  • 8. Genesis 18:1; Genesis 19:1
  • 9. 2 Kings 5:15
  • 10. [2 Samuel 13:25, 27; 2 Kings 5:23]
  • 11. Genesis 32:3
  • 12. ver. 8; Genesis 34:11; Genesis 47:25; Ruth 2:13
  • 13. Genesis 32:3
  • 14. Joshua 13:27; Judges 8:5; Psalms 60:6
  • 15. Joshua 24:1; Judges 9:1; Psalms 60:6; Acts 7:16
  • 16. Acts 7:16
  • 17. Joshua 24:32; John 4:5

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Hebrew camp
  • [b]. Or along with
  • [c]. Succoth means booths
  • [d]. Or peacefully
  • [e]. Hebrew a hundred qesitah; a unit of money of unknown value
  • [f]. El-Elohe-Israel means God, the God of Israel

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.