Genesis 33:1-7 – Immediately following this encounter Jacob=s sees Esau approaching with his 400 men. He quickly arranges his wives in an order that seems to protect those whom he loves most, and then goes ahead to meet Esau. In the custom of meeting a king Jacob bows 7 times as a token of respect for Esau.
Then the miraculous happens to Jacob, Esau runs to meet his brother, hugging and kissing him in a joyful reunion of reconciliation. This is the work of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1) The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Esau then notices all the women and children and asks Jacob who this company was. Jacob then shares how God has blessed him with a large family and introduces Esau to them.
Genesis 33:8-11 – Esau then asks Jacob what was meant by the droves of animals that were sent ahead as a gift to him. He was probably overwhelmed by the size and amount of Jacob’s peace offering. This is an indication of the impulsive nature of Esau. It seems that Esau has totally resolved his conflict in his heart over Jacob. In Jacob’s mind the birth right and blessing conflict is front and center, but in Esau’s mind and heart it was forgotten.
This is an indication that the meaning and the importance of the birth right was not truly important to Esau. Esau appreciated Jacob’s generosity, but he felt it unnecessary to accept it. He was very wealthy now, and seems to be delighted in being reunited with his brother and doesn’t want to diminish this meeting by accepting such a gift.
Jacob, however, insisted since in ancient days assurance of reconciliation is found when a peace offering gift is accepted. Jacob confesses to Esau that seeing his face beaming with joy was a sign of God’s favor and grace. For Esau to receive the gift would be a blessing to Jacob. Both confess that they have been greatly blessed. Esau realizing the sincerity of Jacob=s motives, and not wanting to hinder their full and complete reconciliation, finally agrees to accept the gift.
Genesis 33:12-17 – In all likelihood Jacob and Esau spent a great deal of time catching up with what had gone on in both of their lives. Jacob was anxious to learn about his mother and father, which Esau would have shared. No mention is mentioned here but Rebekah has died, perhaps hastened by a broken heart over the loss of her beloved son fleeing the anger of her other son, Esau.
Isaac is still alive but greatly incapacitated with age, he is about 150 years old here dying at the age of 180. Isaac was probably living in Hebron where he died. Esau assumed that Jacob would be heading there and offered to accompany him with his company of men.
Jacob declined the offer, not because he didn’t trust Esau, but because he knew it would be impractical. Esau’s armed men would likely get impatient with the slow pace that would be necessary. They likely would want to get home as soon as possible. Jacob told Esau that they would follow on behind and would eventually see him in Seir.
Esau offered to leave some of his men behind as an escort for protection, but the only real worry that Jacob had was Esau, and that was now taken care of by the Lord. Jacob may have had another reason for not traveling with Jacob. God was Jacob’s shield and help, the principle of being unequally yoked may have been a reason for his unwillingness to travel together. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
Genesis 33:18-20 – From Succoth, where Jacob dwelt until he and his family was revived, they departed for the land of promise. From there Jacob went to Shechem where the Lord appeared to Abraham in Genesis 12:6-7. It was here that Jacob bought a parcel of land making this in a sense the first capital of Israel. The city was controlled by the Hivites, a tribe of the Canaanites, and headed by Hamor. He was welcomed to the city, it probably didn’t hurt that he was wealthy. Jacob then built an altar to the Lord here and gave thanks.
The name that Jacob gives the altar represents all of his spiritual experiences. El Elohe Israel means “a Mighty God is the God of Israel.” This was an act of faith on Jacob’s part. In calling the altar El Elohe Israel, not only did he appropriate his new name but also claimed Elohim in a new sense, as the God through whom alone he could walk according to this new name. We see a similar appropriation by Abraham in Genesis 14:20 where God is called El Elyon or AGod Most High.