Genesis 32:4
And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall you speak to my lord Esau; Your servant Jacob said thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
Genesis 32:4. Speak unto my lord Esau — He calls Esau his lord, and himself his servant, to intimate that he did not insist on the prerogatives of the birthright and blessing which he had obtained for himself, but left it to God to fulfil his own purpose in his seed. And he gives him a short account of himself and of his property, and where he had sojourned, expressing withal a desire for his favour and friendship.32:1-8 The angels of God appeared to Jacob, to encourage him with the assurance of the Divine protection. When God designs his people for great trials, he prepares them by great comforts. While Jacob, to whom the promise belonged, had been in hard service, Esau was become a prince. Jacob sent a message, showing that he did not insist upon the birth-right. Yielding pacifies great offences, Ec 10:4. We must not refuse to speak respectfully, even to those unjustly angry with us. Jacob received an account of Esau's warlike preparations against him, and was greatly afraid. A lively sense of danger, and quickening fear arising from it, may be found united with humble confidence in God's power and promise.Jacob now sends a message to Esau apprising him of his arrival. Unto the land of Seir. Arabia Petraea, with which Esau became connected by his marriage with a daughter of Ishmael. He was now married 56 years to his first two wives, and 20 to his last, and therefore, had a separate and extensive establishment of children and grandchildren. Jacob endeavors to make amends for the past by an humble and respectful approach to his older brother, in which he styles himself, "thy servant" and Esau, "my lord." He informs him of his wealth, to intimate that he did not expect anything from him. "Four hundred men with him." This was a formidable force. Esau had begun to live by the sword Genesis 27:40, and had surrounded himself with a numerous body of followers. Associated by marriage with the Hittites and the Ishmaelites, he had rapidly risen to the rank of a powerful chieftain. It is vain to conjecture with what intent Esau advanced at the head of so large a retinue. It is probable that he was accustomed to a strong escort, that he wished to make an imposing appearance before his brother, and that his mind was in that wavering state, when the slightest incident might soothe him into good-will, or arouse him to vengeance. Jacob, remembering his own former dealings with him, has good cause for alarm. He betakes himself to the means of deliverance. He disposes of his horde into two camps, that if one were attacked and captured, the other might meanwhile escape. He never neglects to take all the precautions in his power.4. Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau—The purport of the message was that, after a residence of twenty years in Mesopotamia, he was now returning to his native land, that he did not need any thing, for he had abundance of pastoral wealth, but that he could not pass without notifying his arrival to his brother and paying the homage of his respectful obeisance. Acts of civility tend to disarm opposition and soften hatred (Ec 10:4).

Thy servant Jacob—He had been made lord over his brethren (compare Ge 27:29). But it is probable he thought this referred to a spiritual superiority; or if to temporal, that it was to be realized only to his posterity. At all events, leaving it to God to fulfil that purpose, he deemed it prudent to assume the most kind and respectful bearing.

My lord Esau; which title being but a civil respect commonly given in Scripture to such persons as have no authority nor superiority over them who use it, as Genesis 23:6 24:18, Jacob doth not hereby renounce his right of primogeniture which was devolved upon him, nor return it to Esau. Nor if he did hereby acknowledge Esau his superior for the present, would this have been injurious to that right, because Jacob was not yet in actual possession of it, for it was not to commence till his father’s death; and indeed did more belong to his posterity than to his person; and as to his person, did more respect his spiritual advantages than his worldly greatness. See Genesis 27:29.

I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now, as a stranger and exile, and so a more proper object for thy pity than for thy envy. And he commanded them,.... Being his servants:

saying, thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; being not only a lord of a country, but his eldest brother, and whom he chose to bespeak in this manner, to soften his mind, and incline it to him; and that he might see he did not pique himself upon the birthright and blessing he had obtained; and as if these were forgotten by him, though hereby he does not give up his right in them:

thy servant Jacob saith thus, expressing great humility and modesty; for though his father Isaac by his blessing had made him lord over Esau, the time was not come for this to take place, his father not being yet dead; and besides, was to have its accomplishment not in his own person, but in his posterity:

I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now; had been a sojourner and a servant in Laban's family for twenty years past, and had had an hard master, and therefore could not be the object of his brother's envy, but rather of his pity and compassion.

And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my {b} lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

(b) He reverenced his brother in worldly things, because he mainly looked to be preferred to the spiritual promise.

4. my lord Esau] Jacob adopts the language of extreme courtesy and respect. Cf. Genesis 18:3, Genesis 43:20, Genesis 44:18.Verses 4, 5. - And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus; - the expression "my lord "may have been designed to intimate to Esau that he (Jacob) did not intend to assert that superiority or precedency which had been assigned him by Isaac s blessing (Genesis 27:29), at least so far as to claim a share in Isaac's wealth (Calvin, Bush, Gerlach), but was probably due chiefly to the extreme courtesy of the East (Gerlach), or to a desire to conciliate his brother (Keil), or to a feeling of personal contrition for his misbehavior towards Esau (Kalisch), and perhaps also to a secret apprehension of danger from Esau's approach (Alford, Inglis) - I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed - אֵחַרe fut. Kal. of אָחַרcurring only here, is a contraction for אֶךאחַר, like תֹּסֵק for תֹּאסֵק (Psalm 104:29; vide Gesenius, § 68, 2) - there until now: and I have (literally, there are to me, so that I stand in need of no further wealth from either thee or Isaac) oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: - cf. 12:16 (Abraham); 26:13, 14 (Isaac) - and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight (cf. 33:8, 15; 39:4; and vide 6:8; 18:3). These words of Jacob "cut Laban to the heart with their truth, so that he turned round, offered his hand, and proposed a covenant." Jacob proceeded at once to give a practical proof of his assent to this proposal of his father-in-law, by erecting a stone as a memorial, and calling upon his relations also ("his brethren," as in Genesis 31:23, by whom Laban and the relations who came with him are intended, as Genesis 31:54 shows) to gather stones into a heap, which formed a table, as is briefly observed in Genesis 31:46, for the covenant meal (Genesis 31:54). This stone-heap was called Jegar-Sahadutha by Laban, and Galeed by Jacob (the former is the Chaldee, the latter the Hebrew; they have both the same meaning, viz., "heaps of witness"),

(Note: These words are the oldest proof, that in the native country of the patriarchs, Mesopotamia, Aramaean or Chaldaean was spoken, and Hebrew in Jacob's native country, Canaan; from which we may conclude that Abraham's family first acquired the Hebrew in Canaan from the Canaanites (Phoenicians).)

because, as Laban, who spoke first, as being the elder, explained, the heap was to be a "witness between him and Jacob." The historian then adds this explanation: "therefore they called his name Gal'ed," and immediately afterwards introduces a second name, which the heap received from words that were spoken by Laban at the conclusion of the covenant (Genesis 31:49): "And Mizpah," i.e., watch, watch-place (sc., he called it), "for he (Laban) said, Jehovah watch between me and thee; for we are hidden from one another (from the face of one another), if thou shalt oppress my daughters, and if thou shalt take wives to my daughters! No man is with us, behold God is witness between me and thee!" (Genesis 31:49, Genesis 31:50). After these words of Laban, which are introduced parenthetically,

(Note: There can be no doubt that Genesis 31:49 and Genesis 31:50 bear the marks of a subsequent insertion. But there is nothing in the nature of this interpolation to indicate a compilation of the history from different sources. That Laban, when making this covenant, should have spoken of the future treatment of his daughters, is a thing so natural, that there would have been something strange in the omission. And it is not less suitable to the circumstances, that he calls upon the God of Jacob, i.e., Jehovah, to watch in this affair. And apart from the use of the name Jehovah, which is perfectly suitable here, there is nothing whatever to point to a different source; to say nothing of the fact that the critics themselves cannot agree as to the nature of the source supposed.)

and in which he enjoined upon Jacob fidelity to his daughters, the formation of the covenant of reconciliation and peace between them is first described, according to which, neither of them (sive ego sive tu, as in Exodus 19:13) was to pass the stone-heap and memorial-stone with a hostile intention towards the other. Of this the memorial was to serve as a witness, and the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father (Terah), would be umpire between them. To this covenant, in which Laban, according to his polytheistic views, placed the God of Abraham upon the same level with the God of Nahor and Terah, Jacob swore by "the Fear of Isaac" (Genesis 31:42), the God who was worshipped by his father with sacred awe. He then offered sacrifices upon the mountain, and invited his relations to eat, i.e., to partake of a sacrificial meal, and seal the covenant by a feast of love.

The geographical names Gilead and Ramath-mizpeh (Joshua 13:26), also Mizpeh-Gilead (Judges 11:29), sound so obviously like Gal'ed and Mizpah, that they are no doubt connected, and owe their origin to the monument erected by Jacob and Laban; so that it was by prolepsis that the scene of this occurrence was called "the mountains of Gilead" in Genesis 31:21, Genesis 31:23, Genesis 31:25. By the mount or mountains of Gilead we are not to understand the mountain range to the south of the Jabbok (Zerka), the present Jebel Jelaad, or Jebel es Salt. The name Gilead has a much more comprehensive signification in the Old Testament; and the mountains to the south of the Jabbok are called in Deuteronomy 3:12 the half of Mount Gilead; the mountains to the north of the Jabbok, the Jebel-Ajlun, forming the other half. In this chapter the name is used in the broader sense, and refers primarily to the northern half of the mountains (above the Jabbok); for Jacob did not cross the Jabbok till afterwards (Genesis 32:23-24). There is nothing in the names Ramath-mizpeh, which Ramoth in Gilead bears in Joshua 13:26, and Mizpeh-Gilead, which it bears in Judges 11:29, to compel us to place Laban's meeting with Jacob in the southern portion of the mountains of Gilead. For even if this city is to be found in the modern Salt, and was called Ramath-mizpeh from the even recorded here, all that can be inferred from that is, that the tradition of Laban's covenant with Jacob was associated in later ages with Ramoth in Gilead, without the correctness of the association being thereby established.

Genesis 32:4 Interlinear
Genesis 32:4 Parallel Texts

Genesis 32:4 NIV
Genesis 32:4 NLT
Genesis 32:4 ESV
Genesis 32:4 NASB
Genesis 32:4 KJV

Genesis 32:4 Bible Apps
Genesis 32:4 Parallel
Genesis 32:4 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 32:4 Chinese Bible
Genesis 32:4 French Bible
Genesis 32:4 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 32:3
Top of Page
Top of Page