Genesis Chapter 33
"Jacob's Return to Canaan."
Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's
Genesis 33:1 "And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids."
The time has come for the meeting face to face between Jacob and Esau. It has been over twenty one years since Jacob ran out fearing for his life, and now Esau is coming to meet Jacob with an army of four hundred men. In case of trouble, Jacob took the children and placed each child directly under each of their mothers care, and as you noticed, they are lined up in order of importance to Jacob, with Rachel his first love to the rear.
Genesis 33:2 "And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost."
Looking at this lineup you can sure tell who Jacob's favorites are.
Genesis 33:3 "And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother."
As Esau approached Jacobs's household, everything is in order and everyone is in their place. Then to make this meeting even more friendly, Jacob bowed to the ground seven times as his brother approached.
Genesis 33:4 "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept."
One thing has become quite clear, and that is that the past is over. This is the first time that the love of these two brothers comes forth. It is quite odd that the generations of these two men in these last days, and the nations that represent them, after forty years of armed hatred and confrontation now embrace each other as friends. The walls have come down, and the dollars and goods are flowing between the Christian nations and Russia. In fact many projects are now jointly planed in space, in the seas, and between the peoples of of the nations.
Genesis 33:5 "And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, "Who are those with thee?" And he said, "The children which God hath graciously given thy servant."
Notice humble Jacob is still scrapping the ground before his brother Esau.
Genesis 33:6 "Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and thy bowed themselves."
Genesis 33:7 "And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves."
Genesis 33:8 "And he said, "What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?" And he said, "These are to find grace in the sight of my lord."
Esau is totally taken back in seeing the droves of animals strung out before Jacob, and the word that Jacob's servants were required to say. Esau is asking what is this all about.
What is wrong with what Jacob is doing before Esau, and the fear that Jacob is hold for his brother? It was stated by God even while the two brothers were fighting in Rebekah's womb that the younger shall serve the younger. When the blessing was given by Isaac to Jacob, this was also stated, and told by Isaac to Esau who had the blessing in Genesis 27:37, and what it included.
Genesis 27:37; "And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, "Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?"
Now do you understand with this in mind why Esau was so surprised at all the pomp and ceremony that Jacob has gone through in his fear of his brother Esau. Here we have the younger calling Esau lord, and referring to himself as a servant. You know that this displeased God, and yet many teachers just skip over this verse. We see even today how many of God's appointed servants displease God, and run out to do exactly opposite to what God's Word has instructed us to do. They would rather find favor with the world and it's ways, the please our Heavenly Father.
Genesis 33:9 "And Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself."
Easu is telling Jacob that he has enough of everything, and he doesn't need anything that Jacob has. Then notice that Esau is not getting into Jacob's ceremonial games, and calls him brother. We know from Genesis 27 that though Esau has plenty of goods while under his fathers household, God will not bless these two in the same manner. While Isaac is still alive, Esau is covered under the blessings of Isaac, but at the death of Isaac we will see things change and the God's order taking over.
Genesis 33:10 "And Jacob said, "Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me."
You can see the love of Jacob toward his brother coming out. Jacob is telling Esau that by his receiving these gifts, it means so very much to him. Is this really love, or is it relief that the fear is over. Remember that twenty one years earlier Jacob's departure was in fear of his life.
Genesis 33:11 "Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." And he urged him, and he took it."
Jacob had the wealth to give his brother, and Esau saw that God had blessed Jacob well, so Esau took the gift from Jacob. Esau knew that whatever blessings that he would receive would come through Jacob, and this was Esau's first opportunity to be blessed through his brother's blessing.
Genesis 33:12 "And he said, "Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee."
Genesis 33:13 "And he said unto him, "My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die."
Jacob is telling Esau to go on ahead, and I'll just poke along with the animals and kids for they are young and tender. Jacob knew that the four hundred men of Esau's would be in a hurry and drive the animals to hard.
Genesis 33:14 "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir."
Jacob is continuing with his humility before his brother, in spite of the newly found friendship with brother Esau.
Genesis 33:15 "And Esau said, "Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me." And he said, "What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord."
The way that Jacob was bowing and scraping, Esau felt that Jacob needed a lot of help in getting back to their home in Seir. Esau had four hundred men, and he was going to take a few of them and let them stay behind for Jacob's protection. However Jacob said; we don't need it, just let me do it my way.
Genesis 33:16 "So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir."
Genesis 33:17 "And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him and house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth."
Jacob journeyed a little longer, and stopped to build a house for himself, and booths or out buildings for his cattle. Thus Jacob named this place Succoth, which in the Hebrew means the place of the booths.
Genesis 33:18 "And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city."
This would be better translated; "and Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem." He is now closer to home, and Jacob has decided to pitch his tents just outside the city, and rest awhile. In the Hebrew, Shalem [Salem] means peace.
Genesis 33:19 "And he brought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money."
Genesis 33:20 "And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel."
"El-elohe-Israel" in the Hebrew test means; "GOD [Elhoim]-the God-of-Israel". We will see later that this place was not the place to build an alter to God.
When we observe the emotions and actions of Jacob and Esau as they respond to what is going on around them, we see that their feelings and responses are similar to ours today. There problems are similar to many we face today. Family problems, trouble with the neighbors, and small conflicts within our families still continues while we are in the flesh. Yet God chose this man Jacob, and his wives and sons as champions and Patriarchs of Israel.
Their thoughts and fears were about the same as ours, and the methods of dealing with others and between themselves were about the same as most people today. The heavenly Father will chose his own even today, and to those He chooses, He will try and test to see our commitment to Him. And as these test come upon each of us, it is important to know what God expects of us, for He will not test us beyond what He has given us the strength to meet the test. This is all part of the preparation we need to stand in difficult times that will come our way in this generation.
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