Genesis 33
Benson Commentary
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.
Genesis 33:1. Behold, Esau came — Who had said, Genesis 27:41, “I will slay my brother Jacob;” and with him four hundred men — A force sufficient for him to do what he had threatened.

And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
Genesis 33:2-3. He put Rachel and Joseph hinder-most — Giving those that were dearest to him most opportunity to escape. He passed over before them — Exposing himself to the first and greatest danger for the security of his wives and children. He bowed himself to the ground — Thus doing obeisance to Esau as an elder brother, though he feared him as an enemy.

And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
Genesis 33:4. Esau ran to meet him — Not in anger, but in love: so wonderfully and suddenly had God, who hath the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases, changed his heart; and of an implacable enemy, made him a kind and affectionate friend! Embraced him, fell on his neck, and kissed him — God is the God of nature, and to be without natural affection is to be without God. They wept — Jacob wept for joy to be thus kindly received; Esau, perhaps, with grief and shame, to think of the ill design he had conceived against his brother.

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.
Genesis 33:5. Who are these with thee? — Jacob had sent Esau an account of the increase of his estate, but had made no mention of his children, perhaps because he would not expose them to his rage if he should meet him as an enemy. Esau, therefore, had reason to make this inquiry: to which Jacob returned a serious answer: They are the children which God hath graciously given thy servant — He speaks of his children as God’s gifts; a heritage of the Lord, and as choice gifts, graciously given him. Though they were many, and but slenderly provided for, yet he accounts them great blessings.

Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
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.
And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
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.
Genesis 33:10. As though I had seen the face of God — That is, thy meeting me in this peaceable manner is very comfortable and refreshing to me, and an evident token of God’s favour to me, Psalm 41:11. Or, I have seen thee reconciled to me, and at peace with me, as I desire to see God reconciled.

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.
Genesis 33:11. Take, I pray thee, my blessing — This gift, which, as I received it from God, I heartily give thee, with my blessing and prayer that God would bless it to thee.

And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
Genesis 33:12. Let us go, I will go before thee — He offers himself to be Jacob’s guide and companion, in token of a sincere reconciliation. We do not find that Jacob and Esau were ever before so loving with one another as they were now. God had made Esau, not only not an enemy, but a friend. He is become fond of Jacob’s company, and invites him to go along with him to mount Seir. Let us never despair of any, nor distrust God, in whose hands all hearts are.

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.
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.
Genesis 33:14. Until I come unto my lord, to mount Seir — As no mention is made of it, many writers think, that, for some reasons, Jacob never went to mount Seir to see Esau. Certainly it is very doubtful whether he ever did. It cannot be supposed however, that he would delay so long as the time mentioned in the twenty-fifth chapter before he went to see his father.

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.
Genesis 33:15. He said, What needeth it? — Esau having offered some of his men to be his guard and convoy, Jacob humbly refuses his offer. He is under the divine protection, and needs no other. Those are sufficiently guarded who have God for their guard, and are under a convoy of his hosts, as Jacob was. Jacob adds only, Let me find grace in the sight of my lord — Having thy favour, I have all I need, all I desire from thee.

So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.
And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
Genesis 33:17. Jacob journeyed to Succoth — A place afterward known by that name, in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan; here he rested for the present, set up booths for his cattle, and built a house; doubtless some slight building, because he intended not to stay there; with other conveniences for himself and family. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth — That is, booths, that when his posterity afterward dwelt in houses of stone, they might remember that the Syrian, ready to perish, was their father, who was glad of booths, Deuteronomy 26:5.

Genesis 33:18-19. Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem — Or rather, as the Hebrew may be rendered, he came safe, or in peace, to the city of Shechem. After a perilous journey, in which he had met with many difficulties, he came safe at last into Canaan. He bought a parcel of a field — For his present possession and use; for the right which he already had to it was only in reversion, after the time that God had appointed. Of the children of Hamor — That is, subjects, called children, to signify the duty which they owed to him, and the care and affection he owed to them. Shechem’s father — He only of Hamor’s sons is mentioned, because he was more honourable than the rest of his brethren, (Genesis 34:19,) and so might probably transact this affair with Jacob, the rest consenting thereto.

And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
And he bought 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.
And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.
Genesis 33:20. He erected there an altar — 1st, In thankfulness to God, for the good hand of his providence over him. 2d, That he might keep up religion and the worship of God in his family. He dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God the God of Israel: to the honour of God in general, the only living and true God, the best of Beings, the first of causes: and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. God had lately called him by the name of Israel; and now he calls God the God of Israel. Though he be styled a prince with God, God shall still be a prince with him, his Lord and his God.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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