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Genesis 33. The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau.
Genesis 33:1-17 is in the main from J, but bits of E have been woven in ( Genesis 33:5 b, Genesis 33:10 b, Genesis 33:11 a). The actual course of events, however, is not clear. According to E, Jacob had prepared a very costly present for Esau, and reading our narrative as if it carried on Genesis 32:13 b – Genesis 32:21, we should gain the impression that at the point reached in Genesis 33:1 Esau had already received the gifts enumerated in Genesis 32:14 f. But Genesis 33:1 rather carries on Genesis 32:7 f. J represents Esau as having already met ( Genesis 33:8) and passed one of the two camps into which Jacob had divided his company ( Genesis 32:7 f.). Jacob is with his wives and children in the second camp, and pacifies Esau by the grovelling prostrations with which he honours him ( Genesis 33:3). Then after the reconciliation and the prostrations of the family before him, Esau inquires as to the object of the camp he had already met. On the spur of the moment, Jacob offers it to Esau as a present. He had already written it off in his mind as probable loss ( Genesis 32:8); Esau had, it is true, forgiven, but his question ( Genesis 33:8) was a broad hint; and then there were the four hundred men. Esau declined, with conventional courtesy ( cf. Genesis 23:15), but, of course, took it. Jacob paid a heavy price, but well worth it. His brother appeased, half his property left him, his family secure, his own skin safe, he had come out of a perilous situation better than he could have hoped. Now if Esau would only go! But Esau is in no hurry to leave his long-lost brother. He proposes that they shall travel together, but Jacob has a reason against this— his pace will be too slow. At any rate, let him leave Jacob an armed escort. Jacob pleads that there is no need, and desires his brother not to press it. Perhaps he foresees difficulties between Esau’ s men and his own ( cf. Genesis 13:6 f.). He preferred to be let alone; above all if the escort remained, he would have to go to Seir, not merely promise to go. So Esau left the same day, and Jacob journeyed to Succoth (site unknown), still on the E. of the Jordan, and settled there for a time. E. Meyer thinks that J represented Jacob as actually going to Seir and thence to Hebron without crossing the Jordan at all. But one cannot build any conclusions on the truthfulness of Jacob’ s implied promise to visit Seir. The rest of the chapter ( Genesis 33:18-20) throws no light on J’ s account of Jacob’ s movements after leaving Succoth. It is taken from E, and presupposes that Jacob had already crossed the Jordan. It records how he reached Shechem ( Genesis 12:6 *) in safety, and purchased land. In this plot Joseph’ s bones were buried ( Joshua 24:32), thus the grave of Joseph, like the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23*), belonged to Israel by purchase.
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 33". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent