And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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.And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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!Judges 13:18), because it was פּלא wonder, i.e., incomprehensible to mortal man, but still more to fill Jacob's soul with awe at the mysterious character of the whole event, and to lead him to take it to heart. What Jacob wanted to know, with regard to the person of the wonderful Wrestler, and the meaning and intention of the struggle, he must already have suspected, when he would not let Him go until He blessed him; and it was put before him still more plainly in the new name that was given to him with this explanation, "Thou hast fought with Elohim and with men, and hast conquered." God had met him in the form of a man: God in the angel, according to Hosea 12:4-5, i.e., not in a created angel, but in the Angel of Jehovah, the visible manifestation of the invisible God. Our history does not speak of Jehovah, or the Angel of Jehovah, but of Elohim, for the purpose of bringing out the contrast between God and the creature.
This remarkable occurrence is not to be regarded as a dream or an internal vision, but fell within the sphere of sensuous perception. At the same time, it was not a natural or corporeal wrestling, but a "real conflict of both mind and body, a work of the spirit with intense effort of the body" (Delitzsch), in which Jacob was lifted up into a highly elevated condition of body and mind resembling that of ecstasy, through the medium of the manifestation of God. In a merely outward conflict, it is impossible to conquer through prayers and tears. As the idea of a dream or vision has no point of contact in the history; so the notion, that the outward conflict of bodily wrestling, and the spiritual conflict with prayer and tears, are two features opposed to one another and spiritually distinct, is evidently at variance with the meaning of the narrative and the interpretation of the prophet Hosea. Since Jacob still continued his resistance, even after his hip had been put out of joint, and would not let Him go till He had blessed him, it cannot be said that it was not till all hope of maintaining the conflict by bodily strength was taken from him, that he had recourse to the weapon of prayer. And when Hosea (Hosea 12:4-5) points his contemporaries to their wrestling forefather as an example for their imitation, in these words, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his human strength he fought with God; and he fought with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him," the turn by which the explanatory periphrasis of Jacob's words, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me," is linked on to the previous clause by בּכה without a copula or vav consec., is a proof that the prophet did not regard the weeping and supplication as occurring after the wrestling, or as only a second element, which was subsequently added to the corporeal struggle. Hosea evidently looked upon the weeping and supplication as the distinguishing feature in the conflict, without thereby excluding the corporeal wrestling. At the same time, by connecting this event with what took place at the birth of the twins (Genesis 25:26), the prophet teaches that Jacob merely completed, by his wrestling with God, what he had already been engaged in even from his mother's womb, viz., his striving for the birthright; in other words, for the possession of the covenant promise and the covenant blessing. This meaning is also indicated by the circumstances under which the event took place. Jacob had wrested the blessing of the birthright from his brother Esau; but it was by cunning and deceit, and he had been obliged to flee from his wrath in consequence. And now that he desired to return to the land of promise and his father's house, and to enter upon the inheritance promised him in his father's blessing; Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men, which filled him with great alarm. As he felt too weak to enter upon a conflict with him, he prayed to the covenant God for deliverance from the hand of his brother, and the fulfilment of the covenant promises. The answer of God to this prayer was the present wrestling with God, in which he was victorious indeed, but not without carrying the marks of it all his life long in the dislocation of his thigh. Jacob's great fear of Esau's wrath and vengeance, which he could not suppress notwithstanding the divine revelations at Bethel and Mahanaim, had its foundation in his evil conscience, in the consciousness of the sin connected with his wilful and treacherous appropriation of the blessing of the first-born. To save him from the hand of his brother, it was necessary that God should first meet him as an enemy, and show him that his real opponent was God Himself, and that he must first of all overcome Him before he could hope to overcome his brother. And Jacob overcame God; not with the power of the flesh however, with which he had hitherto wrestled for God against man (God convinced him of that by touching his hip, so that it was put out of joint), but by the power of faith and prayer, reaching by firm hold of God even to the point of being blessed, by which he proved himself to be a true wrestler of God, who fought with God and with men, i.e., who by his wrestling with God overcame men as well. And whilst by the dislocation of his hip the carnal nature of his previous wrestling was declared to be powerless and wrong, he received in the new name of Israel the prize of victory, and at the same time directions from God how he was henceforth to strive for the cause of the Lord. - By his wrestling with God, Jacob entered upon a new stage in his life. As a sign of this, he received a new name, which indicated, as the result of this conflict, the nature of his new relation to God. But whilst Abram and Sarai, from the time when God changed their names (Genesis 17:5 and Genesis 17:15), are always called by their new names; in the history of Jacob we find the old name used interchangeably with the new. "For the first two names denoted a change into a new and permanent position, effected and intended by the will and promise of God; consequently the old names were entirely abolished. But the name Israel denoted a spiritual state determined by faith; and in Jacob's life the natural state, determined by flesh and blood, still continued to stand side by side with this. Jacob's new name was transmitted to his descendants, however, who were called Israel as the covenant nation. For as the blessing of their forefather's conflict came down to them as a spiritual inheritance, so did they also enter upon the duty of preserving this inheritance by continuing in a similar conflict.
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