Genesis 33:13
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.
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(13) Flocks and herds with young.—Heb., that give such. Thompson (Land and Book, p. 205) infers from this that it was now winter, and thinks that this is confirmed by Jacob making folds for his cattle at Succoth. If so, more than six months would have elapsed since Jacob’s flight from Haran; but the conclusion is uncertain, and Jacob probably halted at Succoth because of his lameness.

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.They now part for the present. "I will qo with thee;" as an escort or vanguard. Jacob explains that this would be inconvenient for both parties, as his tender children and suckling cattle could not keep pace with Esau's men, who were used to the road. "At the pace of the cattle;" as fast as the business (מלאכה melā'kâh) of traveling with cattle will permit. Unto Selr. Jacob is travelling to the land of Kenaan, and to the residence of his father. But, on arriving there, it will be his first duty to return the fraternal visit of Esau. The very circumstance that he sent messengers to apprise his brother of his arrival, implies that he was prepared to cultivate friendly relations with him. Jacob also declines the offer of some of the men that Esau had with him. He had, doubtless, enough of hands to manage his remaining flock, and he now relied more than ever on the protection of that God who had ever proved himself a faithful and effectual guardian.Ge 33:12-20. The Parting.

12. And he said, Let us take our journey—Esau proposed to accompany Jacob and his family through the country, both as a mark of friendship and as an escort to guard them. But the proposal was prudently declined. Jacob did not need any worldly state or equipage. Notwithstanding the present cordiality, the brothers were so different in spirit, character, and habits—the one so much a man of the world, and the other a man of God, that there was great risk of something occurring to disturb the harmony. Jacob having alleged a very reasonable excuse for the tardiness of his movements, the brothers parted in peace.

The children are tender; the eldest of them, Reuben, not being yet fourteen years old.

The flocks and herds with young are with me; or, upon me, i.e. committed to my care, to be managed as their necessities require. See Isaiah 40:11.

And he said unto him, my lord knoweth the children are tender,.... The eldest being but thirteen years of age, and the youngest about six; and Esau might easily perceive by their stature that they were young and tender, and not able to bear either riding or walking very fast:

and the flocks and herds with young are with me; or "upon me" (r); the charge of them was upon him, it was incumbent on him to take care of them, and especially in the circumstances in which they were, being big with young, both sheep and kine; or "suckling", giving milk to their young, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so having lambs and calves, some of them perhaps just yeaned and calved, they required more attendance and greater care in driving them, not being able to travel far in a day:

and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die; if he, and the servants under him, should push them on too fast, beyond their strength, even but one day, all in the above circumstances would be in danger of being lost through overmuch fatigue and weariness.

(r) "super me", Montanus, Vatablus, "incumbere mihi", Junius & Tremellius, so Aben Ezra.

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.
13. tender] i.e. young and unequal to the fatigues of travel.

Verse 13. - And he (Jacob, politely declining Esau's society and protection, though apparently accepting his invitation to go to Mount Seir) said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender (Joseph at this time being little over six years of age), and the flocks and herds with young (literally, giving milk; עַלות, from עוּל, to give suck) are with me, - literally, upon me, i.e. are an object of my special care, because of their condition (Rosenmüller, Keil) - and if men should over-drive them literally, and they (sc. the shepherds) will over-drive them, i.e. in order to keep pace with Esau's armed followers they must do so, and in that case, if they were to do so for only - one day, all the flock (literally, and all the flock) will die. Thomson says that Oriental shepherds gently lead along the mothers when in the condition spoken of by Jacob, knowing well that even one day's over-driving would be fatal to them, and, from the fact that Jacob's ewes were giving milk, infers that it was winter time, since then alone the flocks are in that condition - an inference which he further confirms by observing that at Succoth Jacob constructed booths for their protection ('Land and Book,' p. 205). Genesis 33:13Lastly, Esau proposed to accompany Jacob on his journey. But Jacob politely declined not only his own company, but also the escort, which Esau afterwards offered him, of a portion of his attendants; the latter as being unnecessary, the former as likely to be injurious to his flocks. This did not spring from any feeling of distrust; and the ground assigned was no mere pretext. He needed no military guard, "for he knew that he was defended by the hosts of God;" and the reason given was a very good one: "My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds that are milking (עלות from עוּל, giving milk or suckling) are upon me" (עלי): i.e., because they are giving milk they are an object of especial anxiety to me; "and if one should overdrive them a single day, all the sheep would die." A caravan, with delicate children and cattle that required care, could not possibly keep pace with Esau and his horsemen, without taking harm. And Jacob could not expect his brother to accommodate himself to the rate at which he was travelling. For this reason he wished Esau to go on first; and he would drive gently behind, "according to the foot of the cattle (מלאכה possessions equals cattle), and according to the foot of the children," i.e., "according to the pace at which the cattle and the children could go" (Luther). "Till I come to my lord to Seir:" these words are not to be understood as meaning that he intended to go direct to Seir; consequently they were not a wilful deception for the purpose of getting rid of Esau. Jacob's destination was Canaan, and in Canaan probably Hebron, where his father Isaac still lived. From thence he may have thought of paying a visit to Esau in Seir. Whether he carried out this intention or not, we cannot tell; for we have not a record of all that Jacob did, but only of the principal events of his life. We afterwards find them both meeting together as friends at their father's funeral (Genesis 35:29). Again, the attitude of inferiority which Jacob assumed in his conversation with Esau, addressing him as lord, and speaking of himself as servant, was simply an act of courtesy suited to the circumstances, in which he paid to Esau the respect due to the head of a powerful band; since he could not conscientiously have maintained the attitude of a brother, when inwardly and spiritually, in spite of Esau's friendly meeting, they were so completely separated the one from the other.
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