Genesis 33

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. 2 He put the servants and their children in front, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear. 3 He himself passed over in front of them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck, kissed him, and they wept. 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.” 6 Then the servants came near with their children, and they bowed themselves. 7 Leah also and her children came near, and bowed themselves. After them, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 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.” 9 Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; let that which you have be yours.” 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. 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. 12 Esau said, “Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before you.” 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. 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.” 15 Esau said, “Let me now leave with you some of the folk who are with me.” He said, “Why? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 Jacob traveled to Succoth, built himself a house, and made shelters for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 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. 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. 20 He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–16

Jacob, having by prayer committed his case to God, went on his way. Come what will, nothing can come amiss to him whose heart is fixed, trusting in God. Jacob bowed to Esau. A humble, submissive behaviour goes far towards turning away wrath. Esau embraced Jacob. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases. It is not in vain to trust in God, and to call upon him in the day of trouble. And when a man’s ways please the Lord he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Esau receives Jacob as a brother, and much tenderness passes between them. Esau asks, Who are those with thee? To this common question, Jacob spoke like himself, like a man whose eyes are ever directed towards the Lord. Jacob urged Esau, though his fear was over, and he took his present. It is well when men’s religion makes them generous, free-hearted, and open-handed. But Jacob declined Esau’s offer to accompany him. It is not desirable to be too intimate with superior ungodly relations, who will expect us to join in their vanities, or at least to wink at them, though they blame, and perhaps mock at, our religion. Such will either be a snare to us, or offended with us. We shall venture the loss of all things, rather than endanger our souls, if we know their value; rather than renounce Christ, if we truly love him. And let Jacob’s care and tender attention to his family and flocks remind us of the good Shepherd of our souls, who gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young, Isa 40:11. As parents, teachers or pastors, we should all follow his example.

Verses 17–20

Jacob did not content himself with words of thanks for God’s favour to him, but gave real thanks. Also he kept up religion, and the worship of God in his family. Where we have a tent, God must have an altar. Jacob dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel; to the honour of God, the only living and true God; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Israel’s God is Israel’s glory. Blessed be his name, he is still the mighty God, the God of Israel. May we praise his name, and rejoice in his love, through our pilgrimage here on earth, and for ever in the heavenly Canaan.

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