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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 33

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 2


2. Rachel and Joseph hindermost Jacob evidently arranged his companies according to his special affection for each; for the handmaids least, for Rachel most .

Verse 3

3. Before them He goes on first to meet whatever evil may be feared .

Bowed… to the ground Not as in Genesis 19:1, “with the face to the ground,” which denotes complete prostration, but groundward, so that though the face does not touch the ground, it is brought low towards it .

Seven times Such a repetition of these acts of humility would have a likely tendency to disarm Esau’s wrath . And doubtless the lowly obeisance and the lameness of Jacob drove from the generous hearted Esau whatever feeling of hardness or evil purpose he might have entertained towards him until now.

Verse 4

4. Ran to meet… embraced… fell… kissed… wept Five forms in which they exhibited the first fervent emotions of brotherly affection . The whole interview is characterized with a life-like simplicity, as though detailed by an eye-witness of the scene .

Verse 10

10. As though I had seen the face of God Comp . 1Sa 29:9 ; 2 Samuel 14:17. Jacob might most truly say this, and believe in his heart that God himself, the God of Penuel, who had blessed him the last night, had changed and softened the disposition of Esau towards him .

Verse 11

11. He urged him and he took it This acceptance of his large and princely gift would enable the humbled Jacob to feel that he had now made suitable reparation for any wrong he had previously done his brother .

Verse 14

14. I will lead on softly That is, I will proceed gently .

According as the cattle Hebrews, according to the foot of the work; that is, the possessions acquired by my work . The English version, though not literal, gives the real meaning .

Until I come… unto Seir These words naturally give the impression that Jacob promises to move steadily along until he should reach Mt. Seir; but as soon as Esau departs, he proceeds to Shechem, and never went to Seir at all. But a little reflection will show the impropriety of construing his action thus. Esau was probably not yet settled in Mount Seir, (see note on Genesis 32:3,) but, during this interview, had told Jacob of his acquisitions and of his purpose to remove thither; and Jacob’s promise to visit him there was necessarily indefinite as to time . The brothers met again at the burial of their father Isaac . Genesis 35:29.

Verse 15

15. What needeth it Hebrews, Why this? Jacob politely declines a body of Esau’s men stationed as a guard around him . Such an arrangement would have only been likely to lead to difficulties which it were altogether better to avoid .

Verse 17

JACOB AT SHECHEM, Genesis 33:17-20.

17. Succoth The word means booths, from the hurdles or folds made there by Jacob for his flocks . We find Succoth mentioned later as one of the cities east of the Jordan assigned to the tribe of Gad, (Joshua 13:27,) and also in the history of Gideon. Judges 8:4-17. Its exact site is now unknown .

Verse 18

18. Came to Shalem, a city of Shechem So the Sept . , Vulg . , and Syr . But it is better to render Shalem adverbially, in peace . Jacob came in peace to a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan . It was doubtless at or near “the place of Sichem,” mentioned Genesis 12:6, and the city had probably been built here since the time of Abraham’s first arrival. The city may have taken its name from the shoulder of land on which it was built, (Genesis 12:6, note,) or from Shechem, the son of Hamor, or, possibly, from one of his ancestors of the same name.

Verse 19

19. Bought a parcel of a field Rather, the portion of the field . Abraham’s only purchase of land was a place to bury his dead; Jacob now probably found the land more thickly settled, and found it necessary to buy land in order to dwell in peace. On this same land he dug the famous well at which the Saviour taught the Samaritan woman. John 4:5-6; John 4:12.

Hundred pieces of money Hebrews, a hundred kesitah. The Sept. and Vulg. render a hundred lambs, a sense, says Gesenius, “which has no support either from etymology or in the kindred dialects, nor is it in accordance with patriarchal usages.” The word means some sort of money, in precious metal, weighed out, as Abraham weighed out the silver for Machpelah, (xxiii, 16,) but the exact value of a hundred kesitah cannot now be ascertained.

Verse 20

20. Erected Rather, established . Having now obtained land of his own, he establishes his household altar, perhaps on the very spot already consecrated by the ancient altar of Abraham . Genesis 12:7.


Elohe-Israel That is, God, the God of Israel. Thus he calls the new altar after his own new name, and in grateful acknowledgment of the vision and triumph at Penuel.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 33". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/genesis-33.html. 1874-1909.
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