Jacob Meets Esau

1 Jacob looked up1 and saw that Esau was coming2 along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. 2 He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them.3 3 But Jacob4 himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached5 his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept. 5 When Esau6 looked up7 and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob8 replied, “The children whom God has graciously given9 your servant.” 6 The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down.10 7 Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down.

8 Esau11 then asked, “What did you intend12 by sending all these herds to meet me?”13 Jacob14 replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” 10 No, please take them,” Jacob said.15If I have found favor in your sight, accept16 my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me,17 it is as if I have seen the face of God.18 11 Please take my present19 that was brought to you, for God has been generous20 to me and I have all I need.”21 When Jacob urged him, he took it.22

12 Then Esau23 said, “Let’s be on our way!24 I will go in front of you.” 13 But Jacob25 said to him, “My lord knows that the children are young,26 and that I have to look after the sheep and cattle that are nursing their young.27 If they are driven too hard for even a single day, all the animals will die. 14 Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children,28 until I come to my lord at Seir.”

15 So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.”29 “Why do that?” Jacob replied.30My lord has already been kind enough to me.”31

16 So that same day Esau made his way back32 to Seir. 17 But33 Jacob traveled to Succoth34 where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called35 Succoth.36

18 After he left Paddan Aram, Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan, and he camped near37 the city. 19 Then he purchased the portion of the field where he had pitched his tent; he bought it38 from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money.39 20 There he set up an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God.”40

133:1tn Heb “and Jacob lifted up his eyes.” 233:1tn Or “and look, Esau was coming.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the reader to view the scene through Jacob’s eyes. 333:2sn This kind of ranking according to favoritism no doubt fed the jealousy over Joseph that later becomes an important element in the narrative. It must have been painful to the family to see that they were expendable. 433:3tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 533:3tn Heb “until his drawing near unto his brother.” The construction uses the preposition with the infinitive construct to express a temporal clause. 633:5tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 733:5tn Heb “lifted up his eyes.” 833:5tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 933:5tn The Hebrew verb means “to be gracious; to show favor”; here it carries the nuance “to give graciously.” 1033:6tn Heb “and the female servants drew near, they and their children and they bowed down.” 1133:8tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 1233:8tn Heb “Who to you?” 1333:8tn Heb “all this camp which I met.” 1433:8tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 1533:10tn Heb “and Jacob said, ‘No, please.’” The words “take them” have been supplied in the translation for clarity, and the order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse rearranged for stylistic reasons. 1633:10tn The form is the perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive, expressing a contingent future nuance in the “then” section of the conditional sentence. 1733:10tn The verbal form is the preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive, indicating result here. 1833:10tn Heb “for therefore I have seen your face like seeing the face of God and you have accepted me.”sn This is an allusion to the preceding episode (32:22-31) in which Jacob saw the face of God and realized his prayer was answered. 1933:11tn Heb “blessing.” It is as if Jacob is trying to repay what he stole from his brother twenty years earlier. 2033:11tn Or “gracious,” but in the specific sense of prosperity. 2133:11tn Heb “all.” 2233:11tn Heb “and he urged him and he took.” The referent of the first pronoun in the sequence (“he”) has been specified as “Jacob” in the translation for clarity. 2333:12tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 2433:12tn Heb “let us travel and let us go.” The two cohortatives are used in combination with the sense, “let’s travel along, get going, be on our way.” 2533:13tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 2633:13tn Heb “weak.” 2733:13tn Heb “and the sheep and the cattle nursing [are] upon me.” 2833:14tn Heb “and I, I will move along according to my leisure at the foot of the property which is before me and at the foot of the children.” 2933:15tn The cohortative verbal form here indicates a polite offer of help. 3033:15tn Heb “and he said, ‘Why this?’” The referent of the pronoun “he” (Jacob) has been specified for clarity, and the order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons. 3133:15tn Heb “I am finding favor in the eyes of my lord.” 3233:16tn Heb “returned on his way.” 3333:17tn The disjunctive clause contrasts Jacob’s action with Esau’s. 3433:17sn But Jacob traveled to Succoth. There are several reasons why Jacob chose not to go to Mt. Seir after Esau. First, as he said, his herds and children probably could not keep up with the warriors. Second, he probably did not fully trust his brother. The current friendliness could change, and he could lose everything. And third, God did tell him to return to his land, not Seir. But Jacob is still not able to deal truthfully, probably because of fear of Esau. 3533:17tn Heb “why he called.” One could understand “Jacob” as the subject of the verb, but it is more likely that the subject is indefinite, in which case the verb is better translated as passive. 3633:17sn The name Succoth means “shelters,” an appropriate name in light of the shelters Jacob built there for his livestock. 3733:18tn Heb “in front of.” 3833:19tn The words “he bought it” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text v. 19 is one long sentence. 3933:19tn The Hebrew word קְשִׂיטָה (qÿsitah) is generally understood to refer to a unit of money, but the value is unknown. (However, cf. REB, which renders the term as “sheep”). 4033:20tn Heb “God, the God of Israel.” Rather than translating the name, a number of modern translations merely transliterate it from the Hebrew as “El Elohe Israel” (cf. NIV, NRSV, REB). It is not entirely clear how the name should be interpreted grammatically. One option is to supply an equative verb, as in the translation: “The God of Israel [is] God.” Another interpretive option is “the God of Israel [is] strong [or “mighty”].” Buying the land and settling down for a while was a momentous step for the patriarch, so the commemorative naming of the altar is significant.