Genesis 33

1 Jacob saw Esau coming with his four hundred men, so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two concubines.
2 He put the concubines and their children first, then Leah and her children, and finally Rachel and Joseph at the rear.
3 Jacob went ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. They were both crying.
5 When Esau looked around and saw the women and the children, he asked, "Who are these people with you?" "These, sir, are the children whom God has been good enough to give me," Jacob answered.
6 Then the concubines came up with their children and bowed down;
7 then Leah and her children came, and last of all Joseph and Rachel came and bowed down.
8 Esau asked, "What about that other group I met? What did that mean?" Jacob answered, "It was to gain your favor."
9 But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have."
10 Jacob said, "No, please, if I have gained your favor, accept my gift. To see your face is for me like seeing the face of God, now that you have been so friendly to me.
11 Please accept this gift which I have brought for you; God has been kind to me and given me everything I need." Jacob kept on urging him until he accepted.
12 Esau said, "Let's get ready and leave. I will go ahead of you."
13 Jacob answered, "You know that the children are weak, and I must think of the sheep and livestock with their young. If they are driven hard for even one day, the whole herd will die.
14 Please go on ahead of me, and I will follow slowly, going as fast as I can with the livestock and the children until I catch up with you in Edom."
15 Esau said, "Then let me leave some of my men with you." But Jacob answered, "There is no need for that for I only want to gain your favor."
16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Edom.
17 But Jacob went to Sukkoth, where he built a house for himself and shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was named Sukkoth.
18 On his return from Mesopotamia Jacob arrived safely at the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan and set up his camp in a field near the city.
19 He bought that part of the field from the descendants of Hamor father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver. 1
20 He put up an altar there and named it for El, the God of 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.

Cross References 1

  • 1. 33.19Joshua 24.32;John 4.5.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. for I only want to gain your favor; [or] if it's all right with you.
  • [b]. sukkoth: [This name in Hebrew means "shelters."]

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