And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
Verses 1, 2. - And Jacob, having the day before dispatched his conciliatory gift to Esau, turned his back upon the Jabbok, having crossed to the south bank, if the previous night had been spent upon its north side, passed over the rising ground of Peniel (vide Tristram's 'Land of Israel,' p. 558), and advanced to meet his brother, richly laden with the heavenly blessing he had won in his mysterious conflict with Elohim, and to all appearance free from those paralyzing fears which, previous to the midnight struggle, the prospect of meeting Esau had inspired. Having already prevailed with God, he had an inward assurance, begotten by the words of his celestial antagonist, that he would likewise prevail with man, and so he lifted up his eyes (vide on Genesis 13:10), and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men (vide Genesis 32:6). And he (i.e. Jacob) divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah, thus omitting no wise precaution to insure safety for at least a portion of his household, in case Esau should be still incensed and resolved on a hostile attack. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost, as being most beloved (Kalisch, Murphy, Lange, and others) or most beautiful (Bush).
And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Verses 3, 4. - And he (the introduction of the pronoun giving emphasis to the statement) passed over before them (i.e. passed on in front of them, thus chivalrously putting himself in the place of danger), and bowed himself to the ground - not completely prostrating the body, as Abraham did in Genesis 19:1, but bending forward till the upper part of it became parallel with the ground, a mode of expressing deep reverence and respect, which may be seen to life in Oriental countries at the present day (Roberts, 'Oriental Illustrations,' p. 41) - seven times (not in immediate succession, but bowing and advancing), until he came near to his brother. The conduct of Jacob was dictated neither by artful hypocrisy nor by unmanly timidity; but by true politeness and a sincere desire to conciliate. And as such it was accepted by Esau, who ran to meet him, and, his better feelings kindling at the sight of his long-absent brother, embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him - as Joseph afterwards did to Benjamin (Genesis 45:14, 15), though the puncta extraordinaria of the Masorites over the word "kissed" seem to indicate either that in their judgment Esau was incapable of such fraternal affection (Delitzsch, Kalisch), or that the word was suspicious, Origen appearing not to have found it in his codices (Rosenmüller, Keil), unless indeed the conjecture be correct that the word was marked to draw attention to the power of God's grace in changing Esau's heart (Ainsworth). And they wept - the LXX. adding both. "All this is beautiful, natural, Oriental" ('Land and Book,' p. 372).
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.
Verse 5. - And he (i.e. Esau) lifted up his eyes, - corresponding to the act of Jacob (ver. 1), and expressive of surprise - and saw the women and the children; and said, Who art those with thee? (literally, to thee, i.e. whom thou hast). And he (Jacob) said, The children which God (Elohim; vide infra on ver. 10) hath graciously given - the verb חָנַן being construed with a double accusative, as in Judges 21:22; Psalm 19:29 - thy servant.
Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
Verses 6, 7. - Then (literally, and) the handmaidens came near, they and their children (since they occupied the front rank in the procession which followed Jacob), and they bowed themselves (after his example). And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. The remark of Lange, that the six-year old lad who comes before his mother seems to break through all the cumbrous ceremonial, and to rush confidently into the arms of his uncle, is as fanciful and far-fetched as that of Jarchi, that Joseph took precedence of his mother because he feared lest Esau, who was a homo profanus, should be fascinated by his mother's beauty, and seek to do her wrong; in which case he would try to hinder him.
And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
Verse 8. - And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove - literally, What to thee all this camp (Mahaneh) - which I met? - i.e. yesterday, referring to the droves which had been sent on by Jacob as a present to my lord Esau (Genesis 32:16). And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord (vide Genesis 32:5).
And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
Verse 9. - And Esau said, I have enough (literally, Here is to me abundance), my brother (it is impossible not to admire the generous and affectionate disposition of Esau); keep that thou hast unto thyself (literally, let be to thee what is to thee, i.e. what belongs to thee).
And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.
Verses 10, 11. - And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore - פִיעַלּ־כֵּן, because (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Quarry), or, for this purpose (Keil, Kalisch, Hengetenberg, Lange, Ewald. Vide Genesis 18:5; Genesis 19:8; Genesis 38:26) - I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, - literally, as a vision of the/ace of Elohim, in which language Jacob neither uses adulation towards his brother (Tostatius), nor calla him a god in the sense in which heathen potentates are styled deities (Vatablus, Arabic, Chaldee), nor simply uses a superlative expression to indicate the majesty (Menochius) or benevolence (Ainsworth) of Esau's countenance, contended with him at the Jabbok (Bush); but either that he had received from Esau the same friendly welcome that one coming into God's presence would receive from him (Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or that he had come into Esau's presence with the same feelings of penitence as if he had been coming before God (Kalisch), or that, as he had already seen the face of God and his life was preserved, so now he had seen the face of Esau, and the anticipated destruction had not been inflicted on him (Quarry), either of which accords with the words that follow - and thou wast pleased with me - literally, thou hast graciously received me, the unexpressed thought being, as already I have been favorably accepted by Elohim. Hence Jacob with greater urgency renews his entreaty that Esau would not decline his proffered gift, saying, Take, I pray thee, my blessing (i.e. my present, the word signifying, as in 1 Samuel 25:27; 1 Samuel 30:26; 2 Kings 5:15, a gift by which one seeks to express good will) that is brought to thee; - or, which has been caused to come to thee, adding, as a special reason to induce him to accept - because God hath dealt graciously with me, - Elohim, it has been thought, is used here and in ver. 5 by Jacob instead of Jehovah, either "to avoid reminding Esau of the blessing of Jehovah which had occasioned his absence" (Delitzsch, Keil), or, " because Jehovah was exalted far above the level of Esau's superficial religion" Hengstenberg); but it is just possible that by its employment Jacob only wished to acknowledge the Divine hand in the remark- able prosperity which had attended him in Haran - and because I have enough - literally, there is to me all, i.e. everything I can wish (Murphy), all things as the heir of the promise (Keil). The expression is stronger than that used by Esau (ver. 9), and is regarded by some (Ainsworth) as indicating a more contented spirit than that evinced by Esau. And he urged him. In Eastern countries the acceptance of a gift is equivalent to the striking of a covenant of friendship. If your present be received by your superior yon may rely on his friendship; if it be declined you have everything to fear. It was on this ground that Jacob was so urgent in pressing Esau to accept his present (cf. A. Clarke in loco). And he took it, and so gave Jacob an assurance of his complete reconciliation.
Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.
And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
Verse 12. - And he (i.e. Esau) said (in further token of his amity), Let us take our journey, and let us go, - but whether he intended to accompany Jacob on his way (Keil, Kalisch, et alii) or invited Jacob to go with him to Mount Seir (Ainsworth, Clericus) is uncertain. On the first hypothesis it is difficult to explain how Esau came to be traveling in the same direction as his brother, while the adoption of the second will serve in some measure to elucidate Jacob's language in ver. 2. But whichever way the words of Esau are understood, they amounted to an offer to be an escort to Jacob through the desert regions with which his excursions had made him familiar, since he added, and I will go before thee - i.e. to lead the way.
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.
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).
Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
Verse 14. - Let my lord, I pray thee, - it is perhaps too much to explain Jacob's obsequious and deferential address to his brother (my lord) as the sign of a guilty conscience (Kalisch, Alford), when possibly politeness and humility will suffice - pass over - not cross the Jordan (Afford), since Esau was not journeying to Canaan; but simply pass on, as in ver. 3 - before his servant: and I will lead on softly (literally, I will go on at my slow pace), according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, - literally, according to the foot, i.e. the pace, of the property (here, cattle), and according to the foot of the children; i.e. as fast as flocks and children can be made with safety to travel - until I come unto my lord unto Seir. It is apparent that Jacob at first intended to accept Esau's invitation to visit him at Seir, either immediately (Clericus, Kalisch), or, as is more probable, afterwards (Keil, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though, if afterwards, the historian has preserved no record of any such journey, while, if presently such was his intention, he must have been providentially led, from some cause not mentioned, to alter his determination (Bush, Inglis, Clarke), unless we either think that he really went to Seir, though it is not here stated (Patrick), or entertain the, in the circumstances, almost incredible hypothesis that Jacob practiced a deception on his generous brother in order to get rid of him, by promising what he never meant to fulfill, viz., to visit him at Mount Seir (Calvin), or leave it doubtful whether it is the old Jacob or the new Israel who speaks (Lange).
And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.
Verse 15. - And Esau said, Let me now leave (literally, set, or place) with thee (as an escort or guard) some of the folk - i.e. armed followers (vide ver. 1) - that are with me. But of even this proposal Jacob appears to have been apprehensive. And he said, What needeth it! (literally, For what, or wherefore, this?) let me find grace in the sight of my lord - meaning either, I am satisfied, since thou art gracious to me (Vatablus), - ἱκανὸν ὅτι εϋρον χάριν ἐναντίον σου κύριε (LXX.); hoc uno tantum indigeo, ut inveniam gratiam in conspectu tuo (Vulgate), - or, be gracious to me in this also, and leave none of thy followers (Ainsworth, Patrick), though the two clauses might perhaps be connected thus: "Wherefore do I thus find grace in the eyes of my lord?" (Kalisch).
So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.
Verses 16, 17. - So (literally, and, complying with his brother's request) Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir - from which he had come to meet Jacob (vide Genesis 32:3). And Jacob journeyed to Succoth. Succoth, so called here by anticipation, and afterwards belonging to the tribe of Gad, was situated in the valley of the Jordan, on the east side of the river, and to the south of the Jabbok (Joshua 13:27; Judges 8:4, 5), and consequently is not to be identified with Sakut, on the western side of the Jordan, ten miles north of the Jabbok, and opposite the Wady Yabis (Robinson, vol. 3. p. 175; Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 456); but is to be sought for at the ford opposite the Wady-el-Fariah, "down which the little stream from Shechem drains into the Jordan" (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 144; Porter in Kitto's 'Cyclop.,' art. Succoth; cf. Keil and Kalisch in loco). And built him an house. This was an indication that Jacob purposed some considerable stay at Succoth; and, indeed, if a period of repose was not now demanded by the state of Jacob s health after his long servitude with Laban, his exhausting conflict with the angel, and his exciting interview with Esau (Lange), an interval of some years appears to be imperatively required by the exigencies of the ensuing narrative concerning Dinah, who could not at this time have been much over six years of age (Murphy, Afford, Gosman, et alii). And made booths for his cattle. Porter states that he has frequently men such booths (Succoth, from saccac, to entwine) occupied by the Bedawin of the Jordan valley, and describes them as rude huts of reeds, sometimes covered with long grass, and sometimes with a piece of tent (vide Kitto's 'Cyclop.,' ut supra). Therefore the name of the place is called (literally, he called the name of the place) Succoth - i.e. booths.
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.
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.
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).
And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.
Verse 19. - And he bought a parcel of a field, - literally, the portion (from a root signifying to divide) of the field - where he had spread his tent, - and in which he afterwards sank a well (cf. John 4:6) - at the hand of the children of Homer, Shechem's father (after whom the town was named, ut supra), for an hundred pieces of money - or kesitahs, the etymology of which is uncertain (Kalisch), though connected by some philologists (Gesenius, Furst) with kasat, to weigh; translated lambs (Onkelos, LXX., Vulgate), but believed to have been a certain weight now unknown (Michaelis, 'Suppl.,' p. 2207), or a piece of money of a definite value, perhaps the price of a lamb (Murphy), which, like the shekel, was used for purposes of commercial exchange by the patriarchs (Gesenius) - probably a coin stamped with the figure of a lamb (Bochart, Munter); but coined money does not appear to have been of so great antiquity (Rosenmüller, Wordsworth, Alford).
And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.
Verse 20. - And he erected there an altar, - as Abram his ancestor had done (Genesis 12:7) - and called it - not invoked upon it, invocavit super illud (Vulgate), ἐτεκαλήσατο (LXX.), but named it (Dathe, Rosenmüller, Keil, &c.) - El-elohe-Israel - i.e. God, the God of Israel; meaning, he called it the altar of God, the God of Israel (Rosenmüller), or, reading el as a preposition, "To the God of Israel" (Quarry, p. 508).