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Jacob and Esau Meet


Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; 7Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” 9But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor. 11Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.” 13But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. 14Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “Why should my lord be so kind to me?” 16So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house, and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth.

Jacob Reaches Shechem

18 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. 19And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for one hundred pieces of money the plot of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

17. And Jacob journeyed to Succoth. In the word Succoth, as Moses shortly afterwards shows, there is a prolepsis. It is probable that Jacob rested there for some days, that he might refresh his family and his flock after the toil of a long journey; for he had found no quiet resting-place till he came thither. And therefore he gave to that place the name of Succoth, or “Tents,” because he had not dared firmly to plant his foot elsewhere. For though he had pitched tents in many other places; yet on this alone he fixes the memorial of divine grace, because now at length it was granted to him that he might remain in some abode. But since it was not commodious as a dwelling-place, Jacob proceeded farther till he came to Sichem. Now, whereas the city has its recent name from the son of Hamor, its former name is also mentioned, (Genesis 32:18;) for I agree with the interpreters who think Salem to be a proper name. Although I do not contend, if any one prefers a different interpretation; namely, that Jacob came in safety to Sichem.114114     To understand the above passage the English reader will require to be informed that the word שלם, (Shalem,) which our translators, with Calvin, regarded as a proper name, means also “peace,” or “safety;” and therefore the 18th verse may be read “Jacob came in safety to the city of Sichem.” And this is the translation given in Calvin’s own version, Et venit Iahacob incolumis in civitatem Sechem Thus his own text is, singularly enough, at variance with his Commentary. — Ed But though this city may have been called Salem, we must nevertheless observe, that it was different from the city afterwards called Jerusalem; as there were also two cities which bore the name of Succoth. As respects the subject in hand, the purchase of land which Moses records in the nineteenth verse, may seem to have been absurd. For Abraham would buy nothing all his life but a sepulcher; and Isaac his son, waiving all immediate possession of lands, was contented with that paternal inheritance; for God had constituted them lords and heirs of the land, with this condition, that they should be strangers in it unto death. Jacob therefore may seem to have done wrong in buying a field for himself with money, instead of waiting the proper time. I answer, that Moses has not expressed all that ought to come freely into the mind of the reader. Certainly from the price we may readily gather that the holy man was not covetous. He pays a hundred pieces of money; could he acquire for himself large estates at so small a price, or anything more shall some nook in which he might live without molestation? Besides, Moses expressly relates that he bought that part on which he had pitched his tent opposite the city. Therefore he possessed neither meadows, nor vineyards, nor stable land. But since the inhabitants did not grant him an abode near the city, he made an agreement with them, and purchased peace at a small price.115115     “For a hundred pieces of money.” The word rendered pieces of money, קשיטה, (Kisitah,) means also lambs; and the price given might have been one hundred lambs; the probability, however, is, that the coin itself was called a lamb, as we have a coin called a sovereign. It is supposed that the coin bore the image of a lamb, perhaps because it was the conventional price at which lambs were generally valued. The testimony of St. Stephen (Acts 7:16) is decisive as to the fact that money was in use. — Ed This necessity was his excuse; so that no one might say, that he had bought from man what he ought to have expected as the free gift of God: or that, when he ought to have embraced, by hope, the dominion of the promised land, he had been in too great haste to enjoy it.

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