Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau

1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants.
2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.
3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down.
7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.
8 Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?” “To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
9 But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”
10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.
11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.
12 Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”
13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die.
14 So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”
15 Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.” “But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”
16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir.
17 Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.[a]
18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram,[b] he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city.
19 For a hundred pieces of silver,[c] he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent.
20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.[d]

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 40

  • 1. S Genesis 32:6
  • 2. S Genesis 32:7
  • 3. ver 6
  • 4. S Genesis 30:24
  • 5. ver 6,7; S Genesis 17:3; Genesis 18:2; Genesis 37:7-10; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26; Genesis 44:14; Genesis 48:12; 1 Samuel 20:41
  • 6. 2 Kings 5:10,14
  • 7. S Genesis 27:41-42
  • 8. S Genesis 29:11; Luke 15:20
  • 9. S Genesis 27:27; Genesis 45:14-15
  • 10. S Genesis 18:3; Genesis 48:9; Psalms 127:3; Isaiah 8:18
  • 11. ver 2
  • 12. S ver 3
  • 13. ver 2
  • 14. S ver 3
  • 15. S Genesis 30:24
  • 16. Genesis 32:14-16
  • 17. S Genesis 24:9; S Genesis 32:5
  • 18. ver 11; S Genesis 13:6
  • 19. S Genesis 30:27; S Genesis 32:5
  • 20. S Genesis 32:13
  • 21. S Genesis 16:13
  • 22. S Genesis 32:20
  • 23. 1 Samuel 25:27; 1 Samuel 30:26
  • 24. Genesis 30:43
  • 25. S ver 9
  • 26. Genesis 19:3
  • 27. ver 8
  • 28. Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:8
  • 29. Exodus 12:38
  • 30. S Genesis 14:6; Genesis 32:3
  • 31. S Genesis 32:5; Genesis 34:11; Genesis 47:25; Ruth 2:13
  • 32. S Genesis 14:6
  • 33. Joshua 13:27; Jdg 8:5,6,8,14-16; 1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chronicles 4:17; Psalms 60:6; Psalms 108:7
  • 34. S Genesis 25:20; Genesis 28:2
  • 35. S Genesis 12:6; Joshua 24:1; Judges 9:1
  • 36. Genesis 34:2; Judges 9:28; Acts 7:16
  • 37. Genesis 34:2; Joshua 24:32
  • 38. Ge 34:10,16,21; Genesis 47:27; John 4:5
  • 39. S Genesis 12:8
  • 40. S Genesis 4:26; S Genesis 8:20

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. "Sukkoth" means "shelters."
  • [b]. That is, Northwest Mesopotamia
  • [c]. Hebrew "hundred kesitahs" ; a kesitah was a unit of money of unknown weight and value.
  • [d]. "El Elohe Israel" can mean "El is the God of Israel" or "mighty is 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

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.