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Genesis 33:1-17

Context
Jacob Meets Esau

33:1 Jacob looked up 1  and saw that Esau was coming 2  along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. 33:2 He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them. 3  33:3 But Jacob 4  himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached 5  his brother. 33:4 But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept. 33:5 When Esau 6  looked up 7  and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob 8  replied, “The children whom God has graciously given 9  your servant.” 33:6 The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down. 10  33:7 Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down.

33:8 Esau 11  then asked, “What did you intend 12  by sending all these herds to meet me?” 13  Jacob 14  replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” 33:9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” 33:10 “No, please take them,” Jacob said. 15  “If I have found favor in your sight, accept 16  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  33:11 Please take my present 19  that was brought to you, for God has been generous 20  to me and I have all I need.” 21  When Jacob urged him, he took it. 22 

33:12 Then Esau 23  said, “Let’s be on our way! 24  I will go in front of you.” 33:13 But Jacob 25  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. 33:14 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.”

33:15 So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.” 29  “Why do that?” Jacob replied. 30  “My lord has already been kind enough to me.” 31 

33:16 So that same day Esau made his way back 32  to Seir. 33:17 But 33  Jacob traveled to Succoth 34  where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called 35  Succoth. 36 

1 tn Heb “and Jacob lifted up his eyes.”

2 tn 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.

3 sn 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.

4 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “until his drawing near unto his brother.” The construction uses the preposition with the infinitive construct to express a temporal clause.

6 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes.”

8 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn The Hebrew verb means “to be gracious; to show favor”; here it carries the nuance “to give graciously.”

10 tn Heb “and the female servants drew near, they and their children and they bowed down.”

11 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “Who to you?”

13 tn Heb “all this camp which I met.”

14 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

15 tn 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.

16 tn The form is the perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive, expressing a contingent future nuance in the “then” section of the conditional sentence.

17 tn The verbal form is the preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive, indicating result here.

18 tn 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.

19 tn Heb “blessing.” It is as if Jacob is trying to repay what he stole from his brother twenty years earlier.

20 tn Or “gracious,” but in the specific sense of prosperity.

21 tn Heb “all.”

22 tn 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.

23 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn 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.”

25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tn Heb “weak.”

27 tn Heb “and the sheep and the cattle nursing [are] upon me.”

28 tn 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.”

29 tn The cohortative verbal form here indicates a polite offer of help.

30 tn 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.

31 tn Heb “I am finding favor in the eyes of my lord.”

32 tn Heb “returned on his way.”

33 tn The disjunctive clause contrasts Jacob’s action with Esau’s.

34 sn 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.

35 tn 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.

36 sn The name Succoth means “shelters,” an appropriate name in light of the shelters Jacob built there for his livestock.



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