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 unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto 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). Genesis 33:1Meeting with Esau. - As Jacob went forward, he saw Esau coming to meet him with his 400 mean. He then arranged his wives and children in such a manner, that the maids with their children went first, Leah with hers in the middle, and Rachel with Joseph behind, thus forming a long procession. But he himself went in front, and met Esau with sevenfold obeisance. ארצה ישׁתּחוּ does not denote complete prostration, like ארצה אפּים in Genesis 19:1, but a deep Oriental bow, in which the head approaches the ground, but does not touch it. By this manifestation of deep reverence, Jacob hoped to win his brother's heart. He humbled himself before him as the elder, with the feeling that he had formerly sinned against him. Esau, on the other hand, "had a comparatively better, but not so tender a conscience." At the sight of Jacob he was carried away by the natural feelings of brotherly affection, and running up to him, embraced him, fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they both wept. The puncta extraordinaria above ישּׁקהוּ are probably intended to mark the word as suspicious. They "are like a note of interrogation, questioning the genuineness of this kiss; but without any reason" (Del.). Even if there was still some malice in Esau's heart, it was overcome by the humility with which his brother met him, so that he allowed free course to the generous emotions of his heart; all the more, because the "roving life" which suited his nature had procured him such wealth and power, that he was quite equal to his brother in earthly possessions.
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