Gen. 33:1 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. 

Gen. 33:2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 

Gen. 33:3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 

Next we have Esau coming to meet Jacob—with his 400 men.  Before Jacob went out to meet his brother, he put the maids and their children in the front of his entourage; next was Leah and her children, and then Rachel and Joseph.  When he approached Esau, he humbled himself, bowing seven times before him.

Henry: “A humble, submissive behaviour goes far towards turning away wrath.”

It had to be hard to know that you were in a group not loved and valued as highly as others in your family as so obviously revealed by how Jacob organized his family in going to meet Esau.

Historical insight from Smith: “Now according to the Tel Amarna Tablets, it is proper when greeting a king to bow to the earth seven times in approaching him. So Jacob was approaching his brother Esau and greeting Esau as a king….”

Gen. 33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. 

Gen. 33:5 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. 

Gen. 33:6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 

Gen. 33:7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 

Jacob’s fears proved to be unfounded.  Esau ran to meet him and hugged and kissed him; they both cried.  Then Jacob introduced his family, acknowledging them as gifts from God.  They all bowed in humility and respect as they were introduced to Esau.

Gen. 33:8 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. 

Gen. 33:9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. 

Gen. 33:10 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. 

Gen. 33:11 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. 

Then Esau asked what was meant by all the herds of animals, and Jacob told him that they were gifts to find favor in Esau’s heart.  Esau must have been quite prosperous on his own since he tried to get Jacob to keep the gifts, but Jacob insisted that he accept the gifts if he was indeed glad to see him.  Jacob also acknowledged again that his wealth was a result of God’s graciousness.  So Esau accepted the gifts.

Guzik: "When Jacob gave such generous gifts, it was his way of saying to Esau that he was sorry, and when Esau accepted the gifts, it was his way of accepting Jacob and saying he was forgiven.  In that culture, one never accepted a gift from an enemy, only from a friend. To accept the gift was to accept the friendship.”

I’m not sure what Jacob meant by using the phrase “as though I had seen the face of God” in verse 10.  It seems that maybe he is equating Esau’s response to what he imagines it would be to see the face of God when He is pleased and honored.

As a beautiful song says, “I can only imagine” seeing God’s love for me reflected in His eyes face to face.  

Gen. 33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. 

Gen. 33:13 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. 

Gen. 33:14 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. 

Gen. 33:15 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. 

Gen. 33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.

Esau offered to keep Jacob company as he continued his journey.  Jacob let him know that he had young children and young animals that needed to travel slowly the rest of the way to Seir.  So Esau offered to leave some of his men to help, but Jacob basically said that was unnecessary.  He was just happy to find favor in his brother’s eyes.  So Esau left.


Gen. 33:17 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. 

Gen. 33:18 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. 

Gen. 33:19 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. 

Gen. 33:20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-israel.

Jacob traveled on to Succoth and built some shelter.  He eventually came to the city of Shechem in Canaan where he bought a plot of ground for 100 pieces of silver.  There he pitched his tent and set up an altar which he called “Elelohe-israel,” mighty is the God of Israel.  Shechem is where Jacob would eventually be buried.

Joshua 24:32 “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.”

Constable: “A major lesson of this chapter is that those who have received God"s grace may trust in God"s promise of protection when they seek reconciliation with others.”Genesis 33