Genesis 33


‘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. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 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.’ Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down. Esau asked, ‘What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?’ ‘To find favour in your eyes, my lord,’ he said. But Esau said, ‘I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.’ ‘No, please!’ said Jacob. ‘If I have found favour 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 favourably. 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.’ Genesis 33:1-11

Jacob is now trusting in God more and his faith is growing, but he still has some growing to do, he still needs to trust God more. Jacob is now in Esau’s land and when he looks up, he sees his brother Esau, he’s obviously still a little frightened because he divides his family up, just in case fighting breaks out.

Notice also he bowed down seven times to Esau which was a sign of submission and humility. We can only imagine what Jacob was thinking when he saw his brother running towards him and we can only imagine what he was thinking when his brother embraced him. We can imagine the relief in Jacob’s mind at this point as both brothers finally put the past to rest and begin to cry.

In offering Esau some of his flock, Jacob, it seems, is trying to gain favour with his brother, in other words, he’s trying to buy his favour. But Esau isn’t having any of this and so he tells Jacob he’s got enough flock of his own. Esau recognises that he is already blessed and doesn’t need any more blessings, especially bought blessings.

Notice the huge compliment Jacob gives Esau, he says, ‘For to see your face is like seeing the face of God.’ It’s almost as though Jacob sees God at work in Esau, he recognises that all his fear of his brother has now gone. He thought his brother was going to kill him but instead his brother ran to him, embraced him and they cried together, Luke 15:11-32. Esau forgave his brother and Jacob received that forgiveness, it’s clear that God was working on both of their hearts.

Esau finally accepts the gifts from Jacob, the acceptance of these gifts was just as important as the giving of these gifts. Giving and receiving of gifts is usually done between friends, and a sign of godliness, 1 Timothy 6:6.

‘Then Esau said, ‘Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.’ 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. 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.’ Esau said, ‘Then let me leave some of my men with you.’ ‘But why do that?’ Jacob asked. ‘Just let me find favour in the eyes of my lord.’ So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 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. After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.’ Genesis 33:12-20

Esau wants to accompany Jacob, but Jacob’s family seemingly couldn’t keep up with Esau men and so, Jacob suggests that they part ways. Jacob wants to go to Sukkoth and then on to Shechem, Genesis 12:6. Jacob gets to Shechem in the Promised Land but doesn’t go on to Bethel like God asked him to, Genesis 31:3.

He did build an altar, but God wants obedience not sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15:22-24 / Jeremiah 7:21-23. God wanted him to go to Bethel, Genesis 31:3, but Jacob stayed there, and it was here that he set up an altar, El Elohe- Israel, which means, ‘God, the God of Israel’.

Go To Genesis 34



"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Philippians 4:8