Genesis 33:4
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
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(4) Esau ran to meet him.—Whatever may have been Esau’s intention when he started, no sooner does he see his brother than the old times of their childhood return to his heart, and he is overcome with love; nor does he ever seem afterwards to have wavered in his fraternal affection. We have had a proof before (in Genesis 27:38) of Esau being a man of warm feelings, and similarly now he is again overmastered by his loving impulses. It is curious that the Hebrew word for “he kissed him” has had what are called extraordinary vowels attached to it, and the Masorites are supposed to signify thereby that Esau’s kiss was not a sign of genuine love. For such an ill-natured supposition there is no warrant whatsoever.

Genesis 33:4. Esau ran to meet him — Not in anger, but in love: so wonderfully and suddenly had God, who hath the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases, changed his heart; and of an implacable enemy, made him a kind and affectionate friend! Embraced him, fell on his neck, and kissed him — God is the God of nature, and to be without natural affection is to be without God. They wept — Jacob wept for joy to be thus kindly received; Esau, perhaps, with grief and shame, to think of the ill design he had conceived against his brother.

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.4. Esau ran to meet him—What a sudden and surprising change! Whether the sight of the princely present and the profound homage of Jacob had produced this effect, or it proceeded from the impulsive character of Esau, the cherished enmity of twenty years in a moment disappeared; the weapons of war were laid aside, and the warmest tokens of mutual affection reciprocated between the brothers. But doubtless, the efficient cause was the secret, subduing influence of grace (Pr 21:1), which converted Esau from an enemy into a friend. No text from Poole on this verse.

And Esau ran to meet him,.... If he rode on any creature, which is likely, he alighted from it on sight of his brother Jacob, and to express his joy on that occasion, and affection for him, made all the haste he could to meet him, as did the father of the prodigal, Luke 15:20,

and embraced him; in his arms, with the greatest respect and tenderness:

and fell on his neck; laid his head on his neck, where it remained for a while, not being able to lift it up, and speak unto him; the word is in the dual number, and signifies, as Ben Melech thinks, the two sides of the neck, the right and the left; and he might lay his head first on one side, and then on the other, to show the greatness of his affection:

and kissed him; in token of the same: there are three pricks over this word in the original more than ordinary, directing the attention of the reader to it, as something wonderful and worthy of observation: the Jewish writers (n) are divided about it; some think that this points at the insincerity of Esau in kissing his brother when he hated him; others, on the contrary, to his sincerity and heartiness in it, and which was matter of admiration, that he who laid up hatred in his heart against his brother, and had bore him a grudge for so many years, and it may be came out now, with an intention to destroy him, should have his heart so turned toward him, as to behave in this affectionate manner, which must be owing to the power of God working upon his heart, changing his mind, and making him thus soft, flexible, and compassionate; and to Jacob's humble submission to him, subservient to divine Providence as a means; and thus as he before had power with God in prayer on this same account, the effect of which he now perceived, so he had power with men, with his brother, as it was intimated to him he should:

and they wept; they "both" wept, as the Septuagint version adds, both Jacob and Esau, for joy at the sight of each other, and both seriously; and especially there can be no doubt of Jacob, who must be glad of this reconciliation, if it was only outward, since hereby his life, and the lives of his wives and children, would be spared.

(n) Zohar in Gen. fol. 99. 1. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 78. fol. 68. 3. Jarchi in loc.

And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
4. And Esau] Esau’s conduct on this occasion is that of a good-natured and forgiving disposition. There is no statement of his having intended any mischief to Jacob. His appearance with four hundred men seems to have been accidental, and not with hostile intent against Jacob. He behaves throughout magnanimously and simply.

fell on his neck] In Genesis 45:14, Genesis 46:29 (J), this demonstration of feeling is followed by “weeping.”

kissed him] On the Hebrew word for “kissed him” the Massoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text has this note: “All of it punctuated,” i.e. every letter dotted. Probably the text was at an early date uncertain. The Rabbinic explanation is strange, i.e. “because he did not come to kiss him, but to bite him,” and the tradition goes on to say that Jacob’s neck was turned into marble!

they wept] The strong emotion of orientals; cf. Genesis 45:2.

The Targum of pseudo-Jonathan, following up the absurd Rabbinic tradition arising from the Israelite hatred of Edom, explains that Jacob wept because his neck was painful, and Esau because he had pain in his teeth!

Genesis 33:4Meeting 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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