Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau and Settles at Shechem

1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked. And behold, Esau [was] coming and four hundred men [were] with him. And he divided the children among Leah and among Rachel, and among the two of his female servants.
2 And he put the female slaves and their children first, then Leah and her children next, then Rachel with Joseph last.
3 And he himself passed on before them and bowed down to the ground seven times until he came to his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell upon his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
5 Then Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and the children and said, "Who [are] these with you?" And he said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant."
6 Then the female servants drew near, they and their children, and they bowed down.
7 Then Leah and her children drew near and bowed down, and afterward Joseph and Rachel drew near and they bowed down.
8 And he said, "{What do you mean by} all this company that I have met?" Then he said, "To find favor in the eyes of my lord."
9 Then Esau said, "{I have enough} my brother; {keep what you have}."
10 And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have found favor in your eyes, you must take my gift from my hand, for then I have seen your face [which is] like seeing the face of God, and you have received me.
11 Please take my gift which has been brought to you, for God has dealt graciously with me, and because {I have enough}." And he urged him, so he took [it].
12 Then he said, "Let us journey and go [on], and I will go ahead of you."
13 But he said to him, "My lord knows that the children [are] frail, and the flocks and the cattle [which are] nursing [are a concern] to me. Now [if] they drove them hard for a day all the flocks would die.
14 Let my lord pass on before his servant and I will move along 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 in Seir."
15 And Esau said, "Let me leave some of my people with you." But he said, "{What need is there}? Let me find favor in the eyes of my lord."
16 So Esau turned that day on his way to Seir.
17 But Jacob traveled on to Succoth, and he built for himself a house, and he made shelters for his livestock. Therefore he called the name of the place Succoth.
18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem which [is] in the land of Canaan, {on his way} from Paddan-Aram. And he camped before the city.
19 And he bought a piece of land where he pitched his tent for one hundred pieces of money from the hand of the sons of Hamor, father of Shechem.
20 And there he erected 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 13

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