Genesis (Part 149)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 33: 6-11

Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.


Esau meets Jacob’s family and the two brothers squabble over Esau will accept Jacob’s gift. Ultimately he decides to accept the gift. From The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 33:6Genesis 33:7

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.

The note above refers to attempts at finding subtext or meaning in the way the procession is arranged. The explanation that best makes sense – to me – is that Jacob put his least treasured family in the front and his favorites in the rear.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary addresses Esau’s question at verse 8:

(8) What meanest thou by all this drove . . .? Heb., What is all this camp of thine that I met? From the time of Jacob’s coming to Mahanaim, the word mahaneh, “camp,” is used in a very remarkable way. It is the word translated bands in Genesis 32:7, and company in Genesis 32:8Genesis 32:21. It is the proper word for an encampment of pastoral people with their flocks, and might be used not unnaturally of the five droves; for they would remind Esau of the cattle driven in at evening to the place where they were to pass the night.

company = מַחֲנֶה machăneh, makh-an-eh’; from H2583; an encampment (of travellers or troops); hence, an army, whether literal (of soldiers) or figurative (of dancers, angels, cattle, locusts, stars; or even the sacred courts):—army, band, battle, camp, company, drove, host, tents.

The Pulpit Commentaries addresses Jacob’s reply in a note on verse 8:

Genesis 33:8

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).

The Pulpit Commentaries continues on, with the discussion between the two brothers. The note first addresses Jacob’s comment re: Esau’s face and then addresses the discussion as to whether Esau will accept Jacob’s gift:

Genesis 33:10Genesis 33:11

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—פִעִַלּ, because (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Quarry), or, for this purpose (Keil, Kalisch, Hengetenberg, Lange, Ewald. Vide Genesis 18:5Genesis 19:8Genesis 38:26)—I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God,—literally, as a vision of the face of Elohim, in which language Jacob neither uses adulation towards his brother (Tostatius), nor calls 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 25:271 Samuel 30:262 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 Genesis 33:5 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 remarkable 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 (Genesis 33:9), 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.

As the note says, Esau’s acceptance of the gift from Jacob assures a complete reconciliation between the two brothers.

No longer having to fear his brother, Jacob can now re-settle in the promised land. We will see him do that in the next section.

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