Ge 33:1-11. Kindness of
Jacob and Esau.
1. behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred
men—Jacob having crossed the ford and ranged his wives and
children in order—the dearest last, that they might be the least
exposed to danger—awaited the expected interview. His faith was
strengthened and his fears gone (Ps 27:3). Having had power to prevail with God,
he was confident of the same power with man, according to the promise
3. he bowed himself … seven
times—The manner of doing this is by looking towards a
superior and bowing with the upper part of the body brought parallel to
the ground, then advancing a few steps and bowing again, and repeating
his obeisance till, at the seventh time, the suppliant stands in the
immediate presence of his superior. The members of his family did the
same. This was a token of profound respect, and, though very marked, it
would appear natural; for Esau being the elder brother, was, according
to the custom of the East, entitled to respectful treatment from his
younger brother. His attendants would be struck by it, and according to
Eastern habits, would magnify it in the hearing of their master.
4. Esau ran to meet him—What a sudden
and surprising change! Whether the sight of the princely present and
the profound homage of Jacob had produced this effect, or it proceeded
from the impulsive character of Esau, the cherished enmity of twenty
years in a moment disappeared; the weapons of war were laid aside, and
the warmest tokens of mutual affection reciprocated between the
brothers. But doubtless, the efficient cause was the secret, subduing
influence of grace (Pr 21:1),
which converted Esau from an enemy into a friend.
5. Who are those with thee?—It might
have been enough to say, They are my children; but Jacob was a pious
man, and he could not give even a common answer but in the language of
piety (Ps 127:3; 113:9; 107:41).
11. He urged him and he took it—In the
East the acceptance by a superior is a proof of friendship, and by an
enemy, of reconciliation. It was on both accounts Jacob was so anxious
that his brother should receive the cattle; and in Esau's acceptance he
had the strongest proofs of a good feeling being established that
Eastern notions admit of.
Ge 33:12-20. The
12. And he said, Let us take our
journey—Esau proposed to accompany Jacob and his family
through the country, both as a mark of friendship and as an escort to
guard them. But the proposal was prudently declined. Jacob did not need
any worldly state or equipage. Notwithstanding the present cordiality,
the brothers were so different in spirit, character, and
habits—the one so much a man of the world, and the other a man of
God, that there was great risk of something occurring to disturb the
harmony. Jacob having alleged a very reasonable excuse for the
tardiness of his movements, the brothers parted in peace.
14. until I come unto my lord—It seems
to have been Jacob's intention, passing round the Dead Sea, to visit
his brother in Seir, and thus, without crossing the Jordan, go to
Beer-sheba to Isaac; but he changed his plan, and whether the intention
was carried out then or at a future period has not been recorded.
17. Jacob journeyed to Succoth—that is,
"booths," that being the first station at which Jacob halted on his
arrival in Canaan. His posterity, when dwelling in houses of stone,
built a city there and called it Succoth, to commemorate the fact that
their ancestor, "a Syrian ready to perish" [De 26:5], was glad to dwell in booths.
18. Shalem—that is, "peace"; and the
meaning may be that Jacob came into Canaan, arriving safe and sound at
the city Shechem—a tribute to Him who had promised such a return
28:15). But most writers take
Shalem as a proper name—a city of Shechem, and the site is marked
by one of the little villages about two miles to the northeast. A
little farther in the valley below Shechem "he bought a parcel of a
field," thus being the first of the patriarchs who became a proprietor
of land in Canaan.
19. an hundred pieces of
money—literally, "lambs"; probably a coin with the figure of
a lamb on it.
20. and he erected … an altar—A
beautiful proof of his personal piety, a most suitable conclusion to
his journey, and a lasting memorial of a distinguished favor in the
name "God, the God of Israel." Wherever we pitch a tent, God shall have