About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Meets Esau (ch. 33:1 - 20)
In verses 1 through 3 we
see what Jacob does as he approaches Esau.
First of all he puts the two maid servants and their children in
from of him. Then he puts
Leah and her children behind the servant girls and their children.
Last of all he puts Rachel and Joseph behind Leah and her
children. You can certainly
see the priority that Jacob places on his wives, servants and children,
and also himself. Rachel and
Joseph are the most important to Jacob.
The servant girls and their children are the least important.
Just in case Esau attacks them, at least he will be more safe
than the rest by being at the end of the procession.
Esau however does not
attack Jacob and his company. That
might be surprising to Jacob. Whether
it was or wasn't, Jacob now approaches Esau on his own, and probably in
fear and trembling.
In verse 4 we see what
happened when the two brothers met.
It was nothing like Jacob thought it would be.
Esau actually ran to meet Jacob and embraced him and the two
kissed. It was as if two
long lost friends had met up with each other after many years.
Jacob expected a fight, instead he got a hug and a kiss.
In verse 5 we see that
Esau looked up and saw the women and children.
He asked who they were, and Jacob responded by saying they were
his wives and servants and the children that God has given him.
After all these years, we see one brother greet another, and the
sight of women and children apparently thrilled the heart of Esau.
Of course Esau was much older now and probably appreciated seeing
his brothers wives and children. This
is a natural response when one sees his
brother's children for the first time.
In my opinion, when you
compare the two brothers in this event, Esau comes out being the better
and kinder of the two. As
I've been saying, I'm not convinced that Jacob had good motives and
intentions when he appears to be so nice towards Esau.
On the other hand, I think the way in which Esau greets Jacob's
family here shows that his kindness is genuine.
In verses 6 and 7 we see
the women and children in priority again.
First of all, the servant girls and their children come up to
Esau and bow before him. Then
comes Leah and her children, and last comes Rachel and Joseph.
One group at a time come to Esau and bow down before him out of
respect. This is twice now
in this chapter that we see the women and children grouped in such a
way. Clearly, we know who
Jacob loves most It's been
no secret since day one. This
must have been some kind of event for Esau, to see all these children
and their mothers.
In verse 8 Esau asked
Jacob about all the flocks that he had given him as gifts.
You might remember that Jacob sent servants out ahead of him to
give to Esau to appease his anger. Apparently
Esau was not angry at Jacob. So
he asked Jacob what was the meaning of all these animals for a gift.
Jacob simply responded by
saying "to find favour in your sight".
The gifts were meant to appease Esau.
Notice here, as is the
case all along, that Jacob calls his brother Esau "lord'.
He is approaching his brother from a place of humility.
Jacob is stating that he is the servant of his brother Esau, when
all along, it should be the other way around.
The blessing and the birthright given to Jacob by his father
Isaac stated that Esau would be the servant to Jacob, not Jacob to Esau.
This was not the case in reality.
It's not the case because Jacob fell away from the will of God.
He has been outside of God's will for years and thus is seen as
the servant, and not the lord. The
ironic thing here is that Jacob may have been pretending to be the
servant just to find favour with his brother.
He may not have really thought he was a servant.
That being said, in this present case, he was the servant,
whether he thought he was or not.
Later, in the law of
Moses God tells
In verse 9 Esau refuses
the gifts, and I believe he refuses them graciously.
I believe Esau meant what he said.
I don't think he had any ulterior motives.
Esau said that he had plenty.
He needed nothing else.
In verse 10 Jacob pleaded
with his brother to take the gifts. He said, "please, if I have
found favour in your eyes, accept the gift …"
The word "please" sounds serious, next to begging, and
begging it might be since Jacob is now acting like a servant.
In the last part of verse
10 Jacob says that seeing the face of Esau, now that Esau has accepted
him, is like seeing the face of God.
He must be greatly relieved, although we will see later, that
Jacob might not have fully trusted Esau yet.
Whatever he really thought inside of his heart, Jacob told Esau
that his face was like the face of God.
This is something since just in the last chapter Jacob felt that
he actually saw the face of God when he wrestled with the man the night
before. Was Jacob really
being honest here? I'm not
convinced that Jacob, the deceiver is being totally honest here.
I'm also not convinced that Jacob thought that Esau was being
honest either. I think Jacob
was putting on a front. I
say this because of what we will learn later in this chapter.
I think Jacob acted as the humble servant merely to appease his
brother, not that he really meant it.
We see in verse 11 that
because Jacob pleaded with him, he finally gave in and accepted the gift
of cattle from his brother. Maybe
Jacob felt that he now had paid him back for his acts of deception.
I don't know for sure, but it might be possible that Jacob felt
better once Esau accepted his gift of cattle.
The giving of the cattle might well be an act on Jacob's part to
clear his conscience of his past deceptions.
We often do such things to clear a guilty conscience.
In verse 12 Esau seems
eager to leave and go on his way, and the verse implies that he wanted
to take Jacob with him.
In verses 13 and 14 is
where I think I see that Jacob did not fully trust Esau.
Jacob tells Esau, and he calls him lord again, and he calls
himself servant again, to go on ahead of him.
Jacob said that his young cattle could not stand the pressure of
moving so quickly and so far all at once.
He had to take the trip slow to keep his young cattle safe.
So Jacob tells Esau to go ahead and that he would meet them later
on at a place called Seir, which was south east of where they presently
were. These words turn out
to be yet another deception, which is often overlooked if you don't pay
In verse 15 Esau seemed
to agree, but he wanted to leave some of his men with Jacob, maybe for
protection, or maybe just to help him, or maybe to keep an eye on Jacob.
Who knows for sure.
Also in verse 15 Jacob
responded by saying, "why do that.
Just let me find favour in your sight my lord."
Once again, we see the words servant and lord.
Jacob is really laying this servant business on pretty heavily.
He didn't really want Esau's men to stay with him, and we will
see why soon.
Apparently Esau agreed to
Jacob's thinking. Verse 16
says that Esau left for Seir.
Verse 17 begins with the
words, "Jacob, however…"
This is important because the word "however" implies
that he did something different that what he said he would do, and that
is exactly what he did. Esau
went south east to Seir. Jacob
told him that he would go there too, but at a slower pace.
"However", Jacob did not go south east to Seir.
As was prophesied years
earlier, there would be problems between these two men, and that
certainly was true. We know
that the children of Esau became the Edomites.
They always gave Israel
problems. It is said by many
scholars that king Herod, of the time of Jesus was an Edomite.
If that is indeed
true, how ironic.
In verse 18 to the end of
the chapter we see that Jacob bought some land near Shechem in
Like Abraham, Jacob buys
In verse 20 Jacob builds
an altar on the property that he bought.
He called the altar "El Elohe
will see the importance of Shechem, where Jacob moved to, in the next
chapter. What happens is a
direct result of Jacob not obeying the Lord to live in