Genesis chapter 33

Jacob and Esau make peace. Jacob reaches Shechem.





VERSE 1. Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau was coming, and with him four hundred men. He divided the children between Leah, Rachel, and the two servants.

Esau was coming. In their past, Jacob and Esau had considerable troubles. Now Esau is showing up.

We imagine Jacob was frightened.

with him four hundred men. We imagine Jacob was very frightened.


VERSE 2. He put the servants and their children in front, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear.


VERSE 3. He himself passed over in front of them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

bowed himself. The Hebrew word is וַיִּשְׁתַּ֤חוּ (“way·yiš·ta·ḥū”). The most obvious meaning is to bow yourself down. But it can also mean to bow down in worship.

to the ground seven times. Jacob bows down to Esau. Seven times.


VERSE 4. Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck, kissed him, and they wept.

fell on his neck. Other translations such as NIV and NLT, say “threw his arms around his neck.”

Jacob hugged Easau closely, with his head bowed against Esau’s neck. It is a close, passionate embrace.

This biblical description seems especially relevant to our day.

In our day, our culture systematically trains straight men to be unemotional. They are trained to send clear and obvious signals that they are not gay.

Instead of a warm embrace, they give each other bro-hugs:

  • They keep their bodies as far from each other as possible.
  • They lean forward to touch only their shoulders together.
  • They slap each other on the back.


VERSE 5. He lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, “Who are these with you?” He said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

your servant. Christians often act as though they are the lords and masters of their nation’s culture. But the Bible calls us to be the least of all people. And the servants of everyone. Read more »


VERSE 6. Then the servants came near with their children, and they bowed themselves.


VERSE 7. Leah also and her children came near, and bowed themselves. After them, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed themselves.


VERSE 8. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” Jacob said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”


VERSE 9. Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; let that which you have be yours.”


VERSE 10. Jacob said, “Please, no, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present at my hand, because I have seen your face, as one sees the face of God, and you were pleased with me.

as one sees the face of God. For Jacob, to come into the presence of Esau was like coming into the presence of God.


VERSE 11. Please take the gift that I brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” He urged him, and he took it.

the gift. Literally, “the blessing.”


VERSE 12. Esau said, “Let’s take our journey, and let’s go, and I will go before you.”


VERSE 13. Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds with me have their young, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die.


VERSE 14. Please let my lord pass over before his servant, and I will lead on gently, according to the pace of the livestock that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord to Seir.”

let my lord pass over before his servant. Jacob lets Esau go first. He volunteers to be last.


VERSE 15. Esau said, “Let me now leave with you some of the people who are with me.” He said, “Why? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.”


VERSE 16. So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.


VERSE 17. Jacob traveled to Succoth, built himself a house, and made shelters for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.

Succoth. This word means shelters or booths.




VERSE 18. Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan Aram; and encamped before the city.


VERSE 19. He bought the parcel of ground where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money.


VERSE 20. He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel.

El Elohe. Here is a breakdown of those two words:

El. The Hebrew word is אֵ֖ל. It means God or gods.

Elohe. The Hebrew word is אֱלֹהֵ֥י. It means divine or divine being.

Together they mean “God, the God of Israel” or “The God of Israel is mighty.”


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

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