Genesis 33:3

3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

Read Genesis 33:3 Using Other Translations

And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him.

What does Genesis 33:3 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Genesis 33:3

And he passed over before them
At the head of them, as the master of the family, exposing himself to the greatest danger for them, and in order to protect and defend them in the best manner he could, or to endeavour to soften the mind of his brother by an address, should there be any occasion for it: and bowed himself to the ground seven times;
in a civil way, as was the manner in the eastern countries towards great personages; and this he did to Esau as being his elder brother, and as superior to him in grandeur and wealth, being lord of a considerable country; and at the same time religious adoration might be made to God; while he thus bowed to the ground, his heart might be going up to God in prayer, that he would appear for him at this instant, and deliver him and his family from perishing by his brother; and so the Targum of Jonathan introduces this clause,

``praying, and asking mercies of the Lord, and bowed''
seven times, perhaps, may not design an exact number, but that he bowed many times as he came along: until he came near to his brother;
he kept bowing all the way he came until they were within a small space of one another.
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