Genesis 33:17
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.
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(17) Succoth.—That is, booths. There are two claimants for identification with Jacob’s Succoth, of which the one is in the tribe of Gad, on the east of the Jordan, in the corner formed by that river and the Jabbok; the other is the place still called Sakût, on the west of the Jordan, but as it lies ten miles to the north. of the junction of the Jordan and Jabbok, it is not likely that Jacob would go so far out of his way.

Jacob . . . built him an house, and made booths for his cattle.—This is something quite unusual, as the cattle in Palestine remain in the open air all the year round, and the fact that the place retained the name of the booths shows that it was noticed as remarkable. But the fact, coupled with the right translation of Genesis 33:18, is a strong but undesigned testimony to the truth of the narrative. Jacob had been pursued by Laban, and suffered much from anxiety and the labour attendant upon the hurried removal of so large a household. Delivered from danger in the rear, he has to face a greater danger in front, and passes many days and nights in terror. At last Esau is close at hand, and having done all that man could do, he stays behind to recover himself, and prepare for the dreaded meeting next day. But instead of a few calm restful hours he has to wrestle fiercely all night, and when at sunrise he moves. forward he finds that he has sprained his hip. He gets through the interview with Esan with much feeling, agitated alternately by fear, and hope, and joy, enduring all the while his bodily pain as best he can, and then, delivered from all danger, he breaks down. The word “journeyed” simply means that he broke up his camp from the high ground where he had met his brother, and went into the corner close by, where the two rivers would both protect him and provide his cattle with water and herbage. And there he not only put up some protection, probably wattled enclosures made with branches of trees, for his cattle, but built a house for himself—something, that is, more solid than a tent: and there he lay until he was healed of his lameness. The strained sinew would require some months of perfect rest before Jacob could move about; but it was healed, for “Jacob came whole and sound to the city of Shechem.” (See next verse.)

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.

33:17-20 Jacob did not content himself with words of thanks for God's favour to him, but gave real thanks. Also he kept up religion, and the worship of God in his family. Where we have a tent, God must have an altar. Jacob dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel; to the honour of God, the only living and true God; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Israel's God is Israel's glory. Blessed be his name, he is still the mighty God, the God of Israel. May we praise his name, and rejoice in his love, through our pilgrimage here on earth, and for ever in the heavenly Canaan."Sukkoth" was south of the Jabbok, and east of the Jordan, as we learn from Judges 8:4-9. From the same passage it appears to have been nearer the Jordan than Penuel, which was at the ford of Jahbok. Sukkoth cannot therefore, be identified with Sakut, which Robinson finds on the other side of the Jordan, about ten miles north of the mouth of the Jabbok. "And built him a house." This indicates a permanent residence. Booths, or folds, composed of upright stakes wattled together, and sheltered with leafy branches. The closed space in the text is properly introduced here, to indicate the pause in the narrative, while Jacob sojourned in this place. Dinah, who is not noticed on the journey, was now not more than six years of age. Six or seven years more, therefore, must have elapsed before the melancholy events of the next chapter took place. In the interval, Jacob may have visited his father, and even returned the visit of Esau.17. Jacob journeyed to Succoth—that is, "booths," that being the first station at which Jacob halted on his arrival in Canaan. His posterity, when dwelling in houses of stone, built a city there and called it Succoth, to commemorate the fact that their ancestor, "a Syrian ready to perish" [De 26:5], was glad to dwell in booths. Built him an house, which doubtless was some slight building, because he intended not to stay there.

And Jacob journeyed to Succoth,.... Perhaps after he had been at Seir, and stayed there some little time. Succoth was on the other side of Jordan, so called by anticipation, for it had its name from what follows; as yet there was no city built here, or at least of this name; afterwards there was, it lay in a valley, and belonged to Sihon king of Heshbon, and was given to the tribe of Gad, Joshua 13:27; it is mentioned along with Penuel, and was not far from it, Judges 8:8. It is said to be but two miles distant from it (u), but one would think it should be more:

and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle; an house for himself and family, and booths or tents for his servants or shepherds, and for the cattle they had the care of, some for one, and some for the other. This he did with an intention to stay some time here, as it should seem; and the Targum of Jonathan says he continued here a whole year, and Jarchi eighteen months, a winter and two summers; but this is all uncertain:

therefore the name of the place is called Succoth; from the booths or tents built here, which this word signifies.

(u) Bunting's Travels, p. 72.

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.
17. Succoth] This verse preserves the traditional explanation of the origin of the name Succoth, “booths,” “huts”; LXX σκῆναι. The site of Succoth is not yet identified with any certainty. From this passage we may infer, that it lay on the east of the Jordan, and south of the Jabbok. For other references to Succoth, cf. Joshua 13:27; Jdg 8:5; Jdg 8:8; Psalm 60:6; Psalm 108:7.

an house] Jacob is here stated to have erected not a “tent” or a “booth,” but a “house,” as a sign of the more permanent character of his sojourn in the land.

Genesis 33:17Esau set off the same day for Mount Seir, whilst Jacob proceeded to Succoth, where he built himself a house and made succoth for his flocks, i.e., probably not huts of branches and shrubs, but hurdles or folds made of twigs woven together. According to Joshua 13:27, Succoth was in the valley of the Jordan, and was allotted to the tribe of Gad, as part of the district of the Jordan, "on the other side Jordan eastward;" and this is confirmed by Judges 8:4-5, and by Jerome (quaest. ad h. l.): Sochoth usque hodie civitas trans Jordanem in parte Scythopoleos. Consequently it cannot be identified with the Scut on the western side of the Jordan, to the south of Beisan, above the Wady el Mlih. - How long Jacob remained in Succoth cannot be determined; but we may conclude that he stayed there some years from the circumstance, that by erecting a house and huts he prepared for a lengthened stay. The motives which induced him to remain there are also unknown to us. But when Knobel adduces the fact, that Jacob came to Canaan for the purpose of visiting Isaac (Genesis 31:18), as a reason why it is improbable that he continued long at Succoth, he forgets that Jacob could visit his father from Succoth just as well as from Shechem, and that, with the number of people and cattle that he had about him, it was impossible that he should join and subordinate himself to Isaac's household, after having attained through his past life and the promises of God a position of patriarchal independence.
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