Genesis 33:1
And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children to Leah, and to Rachel, and to the two handmaids.
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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.33:1-16 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.Jacob, upon seeing Esau approach with his four hundred men, advances with circumspection and lowly obeisance. He divided his family, arranged them according to their preciousness in his eyes, and walks himself in front. In drawing near, he bows seven times, in token of complete submission to his older brother. Esau, the wild hunter, is completely softened, and manifests the warmest affection, which is reciprocated by Jacob. The puncta extraordinaria over וישׁקהוּ vayı̂shēqēhû, "and kissed him," seemingly intimating a doubt of the reading or of the sincerity of Esau, are wholly unwarranted. Esau then observes the women and children, and inquires who they are. Jacob replies that God had granted, graciously bestowed on him, these children. They approach in succession, and do obeisance. Esau now inquires of the caravan or horde he had already met. He had heard the announcement of the servants; but he awaited the confirmation of the master. "To find grace in the eyes of my lord." Jacob values highly the good-will of his brother. The acceptance of this present is the security for that good-will, and for all the safety and protection which it involved. Esau at first declines the gift, but on being urged by Jacob accepts it, and thereby relieves Jacob of all his anxiety. His brother is now his friend indeed. "Therefore, have I seen thy face," that I might give thee this token of my affection. "As if I had seen the face of God." The unexpected kindness with which his brother had received him was a type and proof of the kindness of the All-provident, by whom it had been added to all his other mercies. My blessing; my gift which embodies my good wishes. I have all; not only enough, but all that I can wish.CHAPTER 33

Ge 33:1-11. Kindness of Jacob and Esau.

1. behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men—Jacob having crossed the ford and ranged his wives and children in order—the dearest last, that they might be the least exposed to danger—awaited the expected interview. His faith was strengthened and his fears gone (Ps 27:3). Having had power to prevail with God, he was confident of the same power with man, according to the promise (compare Ge 32:28).Jacob sets his wives and children in the order they shall travel, Genesis 33:1,2. Meets his brother; his obeisance to him, Genesis 33:3. Esau kindly embrace Jacob, Genesis 33:4. His wives and children present themselves to Esau, Genesis 33:7. Jacob offers a present to his brother, Genesis 33:8. He refuses it, Genesis 33:9. Jacob presses him, and he accepts, Genesis 33:10,11. They part friendly, Genesis 33:12-15. Esau returns to Seir; Jacob comes to Succoth, Genesis 33:17. From thence he goes to Shalem; where he buys a field for one hundred pieces of money; builds an altar; calls it El-elohe-Israel, Genesis 33:18-20.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked,.... After he had passed over the brook, and was come to his wives and children; which was done either accidentally or on purpose, to see if he could espy his brother coming: some think this denotes his cheerfulness and courage, and that he was now not distressed and dejected, as he had been before:

and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men; see Genesis 32:6,

and he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids; some think he made four divisions of them; Leah and her children, Rachel and her son, Bilhah and hers, and Zilpah and hers: but others are of opinion there were but three: the two handmaids and their children in one division, Leah and her children in another, and Rachel and her son in the third; which seems to be confirmed in Genesis 33:2, though the word for "divide" signifies to halve or divide into two parts; according to which, the division then must be of the two wives and their children in one company, and of the two handmaids and theirs in the other: and this Jacob did partly for decency and partly for safety.

And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he {a} divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.

(a) That if the one part were assailed, the other might escape.

1. And Jacob lifted up his eyes, &c.] For this phrase, cf. Genesis 18:2, Genesis 24:63, Genesis 31:10 (J).

four hundred men] See Genesis 32:6.

he divided, &c.] Jacob disposes of his household, placing in the rear those who were most dear to him, so that in the event of an attack by Esau they might have the best chance of escape.Verses 1, 2. - And Jacob, having the day before dispatched his conciliatory gift to Esau, turned his back upon the Jabbok, having crossed to the south bank, if the previous night had been spent upon its north side, passed over the rising ground of Peniel (vide Tristram's 'Land of Israel,' p. 558), and advanced to meet his brother, richly laden with the heavenly blessing he had won in his mysterious conflict with Elohim, and to all appearance free from those paralyzing fears which, previous to the midnight struggle, the prospect of meeting Esau had inspired. Having already prevailed with God, he had an inward assurance, begotten by the words of his celestial antagonist, that he would likewise prevail with man, and so he lifted up his eyes (vide on Genesis 13:10), and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men (vide Genesis 32:6). And he (i.e. Jacob) divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah, thus omitting no wise precaution to insure safety for at least a portion of his household, in case Esau should be still incensed and resolved on a hostile attack. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost, as being most beloved (Kalisch, Murphy, Lange, and others) or most beautiful (Bush). "And when He (the unknown) saw that He did not overcome him, He touched his hip-socket; and his hip-socket was put out of joint (תּקע from רקע) as He wrestled with him." Still Jacob would not let Him go until He blessed him. He then said to Jacob, "They name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel (ישׂראל, God's fighter, from שׂרה to fight, and אל God); for thou hast fought with God and with men, and hast prevailed." When Jacob asked Him His name, He declined giving any definite answer, and "blessed him there." He did not tell him His name; not merely, as the angel stated to Manoah in reply to a similar question (Judges 13:18), because it was פּלא wonder, i.e., incomprehensible to mortal man, but still more to fill Jacob's soul with awe at the mysterious character of the whole event, and to lead him to take it to heart. What Jacob wanted to know, with regard to the person of the wonderful Wrestler, and the meaning and intention of the struggle, he must already have suspected, when he would not let Him go until He blessed him; and it was put before him still more plainly in the new name that was given to him with this explanation, "Thou hast fought with Elohim and with men, and hast conquered." God had met him in the form of a man: God in the angel, according to Hosea 12:4-5, i.e., not in a created angel, but in the Angel of Jehovah, the visible manifestation of the invisible God. Our history does not speak of Jehovah, or the Angel of Jehovah, but of Elohim, for the purpose of bringing out the contrast between God and the creature.

This remarkable occurrence is not to be regarded as a dream or an internal vision, but fell within the sphere of sensuous perception. At the same time, it was not a natural or corporeal wrestling, but a "real conflict of both mind and body, a work of the spirit with intense effort of the body" (Delitzsch), in which Jacob was lifted up into a highly elevated condition of body and mind resembling that of ecstasy, through the medium of the manifestation of God. In a merely outward conflict, it is impossible to conquer through prayers and tears. As the idea of a dream or vision has no point of contact in the history; so the notion, that the outward conflict of bodily wrestling, and the spiritual conflict with prayer and tears, are two features opposed to one another and spiritually distinct, is evidently at variance with the meaning of the narrative and the interpretation of the prophet Hosea. Since Jacob still continued his resistance, even after his hip had been put out of joint, and would not let Him go till He had blessed him, it cannot be said that it was not till all hope of maintaining the conflict by bodily strength was taken from him, that he had recourse to the weapon of prayer. And when Hosea (Hosea 12:4-5) points his contemporaries to their wrestling forefather as an example for their imitation, in these words, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his human strength he fought with God; and he fought with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him," the turn by which the explanatory periphrasis of Jacob's words, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me," is linked on to the previous clause by בּכה without a copula or vav consec., is a proof that the prophet did not regard the weeping and supplication as occurring after the wrestling, or as only a second element, which was subsequently added to the corporeal struggle. Hosea evidently looked upon the weeping and supplication as the distinguishing feature in the conflict, without thereby excluding the corporeal wrestling. At the same time, by connecting this event with what took place at the birth of the twins (Genesis 25:26), the prophet teaches that Jacob merely completed, by his wrestling with God, what he had already been engaged in even from his mother's womb, viz., his striving for the birthright; in other words, for the possession of the covenant promise and the covenant blessing. This meaning is also indicated by the circumstances under which the event took place. Jacob had wrested the blessing of the birthright from his brother Esau; but it was by cunning and deceit, and he had been obliged to flee from his wrath in consequence. And now that he desired to return to the land of promise and his father's house, and to enter upon the inheritance promised him in his father's blessing; Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men, which filled him with great alarm. As he felt too weak to enter upon a conflict with him, he prayed to the covenant God for deliverance from the hand of his brother, and the fulfilment of the covenant promises. The answer of God to this prayer was the present wrestling with God, in which he was victorious indeed, but not without carrying the marks of it all his life long in the dislocation of his thigh. Jacob's great fear of Esau's wrath and vengeance, which he could not suppress notwithstanding the divine revelations at Bethel and Mahanaim, had its foundation in his evil conscience, in the consciousness of the sin connected with his wilful and treacherous appropriation of the blessing of the first-born. To save him from the hand of his brother, it was necessary that God should first meet him as an enemy, and show him that his real opponent was God Himself, and that he must first of all overcome Him before he could hope to overcome his brother. And Jacob overcame God; not with the power of the flesh however, with which he had hitherto wrestled for God against man (God convinced him of that by touching his hip, so that it was put out of joint), but by the power of faith and prayer, reaching by firm hold of God even to the point of being blessed, by which he proved himself to be a true wrestler of God, who fought with God and with men, i.e., who by his wrestling with God overcame men as well. And whilst by the dislocation of his hip the carnal nature of his previous wrestling was declared to be powerless and wrong, he received in the new name of Israel the prize of victory, and at the same time directions from God how he was henceforth to strive for the cause of the Lord. - By his wrestling with God, Jacob entered upon a new stage in his life. As a sign of this, he received a new name, which indicated, as the result of this conflict, the nature of his new relation to God. But whilst Abram and Sarai, from the time when God changed their names (Genesis 17:5 and Genesis 17:15), are always called by their new names; in the history of Jacob we find the old name used interchangeably with the new. "For the first two names denoted a change into a new and permanent position, effected and intended by the will and promise of God; consequently the old names were entirely abolished. But the name Israel denoted a spiritual state determined by faith; and in Jacob's life the natural state, determined by flesh and blood, still continued to stand side by side with this. Jacob's new name was transmitted to his descendants, however, who were called Israel as the covenant nation. For as the blessing of their forefather's conflict came down to them as a spiritual inheritance, so did they also enter upon the duty of preserving this inheritance by continuing in a similar conflict.

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