Genesis 33:18
And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem.—The Sam. Pent. has shalom,”safe”; but shalem is right, and means whole, sound. Onkelos, however, followed by most modern commentators, renders it in peace, but this too would not mean peaceably, but that his troubles were now at an end, and his lameness cured. Philippsohn’s rendering, however, is more exact, namely, wohlbehalten, in good condition. Rashi also, no mean authority, sees in it an allusion to the cure of Jacob’s lameness. As Shechem was a man, his city would not be Shalem, but that called after his own name. In Genesis 12:6 it is called “Sichern,” where see Note. Sichern was probably the old name, but after the cruel fate brought upon it by Shechem’s misconduct the spelling was modified to suit the history.

In the land of Canaan.—Jacob therefore had now crossed the river Jordan, and so far completed his homeward journey. Probably as soon as he had recovered from his lameness he visited his father, but as his possessions were large, and Esau was the chief at Hebron, there was no room at present for him to dwell there, nor in fact was this possible until Isaac’s death. But as we find Deborah with them soon afterwards, it is plain that he had gone to visit Isaac, and, finding his mother dead, had brought away with him her beloved nurse.

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.Jacob at length crosses the Jordan, and enters again the land of Kenaan. "In peace." The original word (שׁלם shālēm "safe, in peace") is rendered Shalem, the name of the town at which Jacob arrived, by the Septuagint. The rendering safe, or in peace, is here adopted, because (1) the word is to be taken as a common noun or adjective, unless there be a clear necessity for a proper name; (2) "the place" was called Shekem in the time of Abraham Genesis 12:6, and the "town" is so designated in the thirty-fifth chapter Genesis 35:4; and (3) the statement that Jacob arrived in safety accounts for the additional clauses, "which is in the land of Kenaan," and "when he went from Padan-aram," and is in accordance with the promise Genesis 28:21 that he would return in peace. If, however, the Salim found by Robinson to the west of Nablous be the present town, it must be called the city of Shekem, because it belonged to the Shekem mentioned in the following verse and chapter. "Pitched before the city."

Jacob did not enter into the city, because his flocks and herds could not find accommodation there, and he did not want to come into close contact with the inhabitants. "He bought a parcel of the field." He is anxious to have a place he may call his own, where he may have a permanent resting-place. "For a hundred kesitahs." The kesitah may have been a piece of silver or gold, of a certain weight, equal in value to a lamb (see Gesenius). "El-Elohe-Israel." Jacob consecrates his ground by the erection of an altar. He calls it the altar of the Mighty One, the God of Israel, in which he signalizes the omnipotence of him who had brought him in safety to the land of promise through many perils, the new name by which he himself had been lately designated, and the blessed communion which now existed between the Almighty and himself. This was the very spot where Abraham, about one hundred and eighty-five years ago, built the first altar he erected in the promised land Genesis 12:6-7. It is now consecrated anew to the God of promise.

- Dinah's Dishonor

This chapter records the rape of Dinah and the revenge of her brothers.

18. Shalem—that is, "peace"; and the meaning may be that Jacob came into Canaan, arriving safe and sound at the city Shechem—a tribute to Him who had promised such a return (compare Ge 28:15). But most writers take Shalem as a proper name—a city of Shechem, and the site is marked by one of the little villages about two miles to the northeast. A little farther in the valley below Shechem "he bought a parcel of a field," thus being the first of the patriarchs who became a proprietor of land in Canaan. Shalem; most take it for the proper name of a place belonging to

Shechem, as it here follows, called Salim, John 3:23, and Sichem or Sychar, John 4:5. But others take it for an appellative noun, and render the place thus, he came safe or whole to the city of Shechem; to note either that he was then cured of the lameness which the angel gave him; or rather, to note the good providence of God that had brought him safe in his person, family, and estate through all his dangers, first from Laban, then from Esau, till he came to this place, where it seems he intended to make his abode for a good while, had not the following miscarriages obliged him to remove.

Before the city, i.e. near to it, but not in it, for the conveniency of his cattle. And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem,.... Not Salem, of which Melchizedek was king, much less Jerusalem, for it was forty miles from it (w); more likely Salim near Aenon, where John was baptizing, John 3:23; though it perhaps is the same with Shechem; for the words may be read, he "came to Shalem, the city Shechem", a city which Hamor had built, and called by the name of his son Shechem, the same with Sychar, John 4:5; this was on this side Jordan, and therefore Jacob must have passed over that river, though no mention is made of it; it is said to be about eight miles from Succoth (x): though some think Shalem is not the name of a place, but an appellative, and to be rendered "safe and sound", or "whole"; and so the Jewish (y) writers generally understand it of his coming in peace, health, and safety:

which is in the land of Canaan; it belonged to that tribe of the Canaanites called Hivites; for Hamor, the father of Shechem, from whom it had its name, was an Hivite, Genesis 34:2, so that Jacob was now got into the land of Canaan, his own country, and where his kindred dwelt:

when he came from Padanaram; from Mesopotamia, from Haran there; Shechem was the first place in the land of Canaan he came to, when he came from thence, and whither he came in the greatest safety, he himself, wives, children, and servants, in good health, without any loss of any of his cattle and substance; and without any ill thing befalling: him all the way thither, being delivered from Laban and Esau, and from every danger, and from every enemy: and to signify this is this clause added, which may seem otherwise superfluous:

and pitched his tent before the city; the city of Shechem, not in it, but near it.

(w) Bunting's Travels, p. 75. (x) Ib. p. 72. (y) Targum Jon. Jarchi, Aben Ezra & Ben Gersom in loc.

And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18–20. Jacob at Shechem

18. in peace] R.V. marg. to Shalem, a city of. The rendering in the margin is possible. It is supported by LXX and Vulg. There is a village, Salim, still to be found near Shechem. On the other hand, the context speaks of Jacob “before the city” of Shechem; and the fact of his arrival there “in peace” is not without significance in view of the events narrated in ch. 34.

Canaan … Paddan-aram] The transition in this verse is abrupt. Jacob is suddenly transferred from the east to the west side of the Jordan. The clause, “when he came from Paddan-aram,” seems to ignore the previous chapters, and is clearly taken from a different source, viz. P.

before the city] “In front of it,” lit. “in the presence of the city” of Shechem. It is the preposition rendered “before” in Genesis 19:13.Verse 18. - And Jacob (leaving Succoth) came to Shalem - the word שָׁלֵם, rendered by some expositors as here (LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, Luther, Calvin, Peele, Wordsworth), is better taken as an adverb signifying in peace or in safety (Onkelos, Saadias, Rashi, Dathius, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch, et alii), meaning that Jacob Was now sound in his limb (Jarehi) and safe in his person, being no more endangered by Esau (Gerundensis in Drusius), or that he had hitherto met with no misfortune, though soon to encounter one in the instance of Dinah (Patrick), or that the expectations of Jacob expressed in Genesis 28:21 (to which there is an obvious allusion) were now fulfilled (Keil) - a city of Shechem, - if Shalem be the name of the town, then probably Shechem is the name of the person referred to in Genesis 34:2, viz., the son of Hamor the Hivite (Drusius, Peele); but if Shalem mean incolumis, then the present clause must be rendered "to the city of Shechem," the city being already built and named - which is in the land of Canaan, - Bush thinks that Jacob had originally contemplated entering Canaan from the south after rounding the Dead Sea, probably with a view to reach Beersheba, but that, after his interview with Esau, he suddenly altered his route, and entered Canaan directly by crossing the Jordan and driving up his flocks and herds to Shechem, the first halting-place of Abraham (vide Genesis 12:6), which may perhaps lend additional interest to, if they do not explain, the words that follow - when he came from Padan-aram (as Abraham previously had done); and (he) pitched his tent before the city - because he did not wish to come in contact with the inhabitants (Lyre), or because his flocks and herds could not find accommodation within the city walls (Murphy), or perhaps simply for convenience of pasturage (Patrick). Lastly, 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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