Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: email@example.com) 2004
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GENESIS 33:1-16 (Jacob and Esau are reconciled after 20 years)
33:1-3 Jacob was still afraid of the encounter with Esau (see 32:7-8). So he arranged for his family to move in a sequence. First there were the two maids, Bilhah and Zilpah (30:3-13) and their children . Then he put Leah and her six sons and her daughter Dinah (29:31-35; 30:17-21). His favorites Rachel and her son Joseph (30:22-24) were at the back (in the hope that they might be escape if Esau attacked). Joseph’s older brothers never forgave this favoritism (37:4). But Jacob did have the courage to go in front of his family, and he humbly did obeisance to Esau as he approached.
33:4 To Jacob’s surprise Esau ran to meet him and hugged and kissed the brother who had defrauded him, and he had intended to kill (25:29-34; 27:1-45).
33:8-11 Esau then asked about all the animals that Jacob had sent ahead of him as presents (32:18). At first Esau said he did not need these, but Jacob insisted and his brother was persuaded to receive the gifts by way of reconciliation between them. Jacob described seeing Esau’s face as being like seeing God. He had wrestled with the LORD when he was apprehensive about meeting Esau, and God had marvelously answered his prayer (32:22-30).
33:12-16 Esau wanted to accompany his brother on his way, but Jacob excused himself as the cattle and flocks would have to move very slowly. He said he would join Esau in Seir (which he did not do, see 33:17, 18). Jacob knew that his promised land was in Canaan. (31:3). And Esau must have accepted this because he realized that the land could not support them both dwelling in the same area, as had been the case with their grandfather Abraham and Lot (13:5-9).
GENESIS 33:17-20 (Jacob arrives back in the promised land)
33:18 After a brief stay when he had to build booths for his cattle (perhaps as shelter from the cold and rain), Jacob was able to bring his family and their flocks and cattle across a ford in the Jordan. Then they moved on another 40 miles, 64 km, south to the city Shechem. Abraham had met with the LORD and built an altar there when he first came into the promised land (12:6-7).
33:19-20 Having pitched his tents, he bought that plot of land from the sons of Hamor, who were the local Canaanite inhabitants, and erected an altar for his family to share in a sacrificial meal (see notes on 12:7-8; 13:4, 18; 26:24-25). By now Jacob was assured that the LORD had indeed blessed him with his new name (32:28). So he called the altar in this sacred place “God, the God of Israel.”
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