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Genesis 33

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 33


A.   Jacob Finds Grace in Esau’s Sight (Gen. 33:8, 10, 15)

B.    Estranged Brothers are Reunited

C.   A Picture of Reconciliation

D.   A Warm Welcome.  What a Relief!!!


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 33:  Genesis 33:3-4


And he (Jacob) passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him:  and they wept.


Why this passage?  This passage shows us the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau.  We are impressed with the actions and the emotions that are displayed by brothers who have been estranged for years.


III.       The Outline of Genesis 33


i.               THE APPROACH (Gen. 33:1a)

ii.              THE ARRANGEMENT (Gen. 33:1b-2)

iii.            THE ATTACHMENT (Gen. 33:3-4)

iv.            THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT (Gen. 33:5-7)

v.              THE ANALYSIS (Gen. 33:8-11)

vi.            THE ASPIRATIONS (Gen. 33:12-15)

vii.           THE ADIEU (Gen. 33:16-20)


IV.        The Lessons from Genesis 33


A.   To reconcile, there must be the time when the parties come together (Gen. 33:1a).


And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men.


B.    The purpose of Jacob’s dividing his family?

1.     Protection?  This is doubtful.

a.     Esau had received the lines of gifts from Jacob.

b.    There were too many men to protect his family by such a simple division.

2.     To set his family in order of love and importance.


C.   Jacob and Esau both show their respect and love for each other (Gen. 33:3-4).

1.     Jacob bowed seven times.

2.     Esau ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him.

D.   QUESTION:  What had Esau done to extinguish the anger that he had toward his brother?

1.     When Jacob left (Gen. 27:41)


And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him:  and Esau said in his heart, the days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.


2.     Now (Gen. 33:4)


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


3.     There are many answers that could be given to this question.

a.     Time and prosperity took away Esau’s anger.

b.    Talks with his father could have pacified his anger.

c.    Perhaps he chose to lay his anger aside (See Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8).


But now put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.


1)     “Put off” is an action much like putting aside a coat.

2)     Anger is a choice.  We can set it aside if we desire to so do.


E.    Good relationships are built upon showing one’s interest in another person (Gen. 33:5).


And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and children; and said, Who are these with thee?


F.     Great respect is paid by Jacob’s family to Esau (Gen. 33:6-7).


Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.  And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves:  and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.


G.   Again, we are introduced to the power of a gift (Gen. 33:8).


And he said, What meanst thou by all this drove which I met?  And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.


H.   Favors are not needed in strong, loving relationships (Gen. 33:9).


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





I.     Good relationships also thrive on generosity (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 was pleased with me.


1.     Jacob’s generosity was found in his gift.

2.     Esau’s generosity was found in his acceptance of Jacob.


J.    There are times when Bible characters attribute the evil that comes to them as coming from God.  Here, Jacob attributes the good he has received as coming from God (Gen. 33:11; see also Gen. 33:5).


Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough…


K.   In good relationships, the individuals seek to assist one another.  Esau expresses two desires for Jacob and his party.

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

2.     And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me (Gen. 33:15).


L.    QUESTION:  Did Jacob lie to Esau? (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 child be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.


1.     Seir is another name for Edom, the dwelling place of Esau.  It is located below the Negeb.  It is south of Beer-sheba.

2.     This writer believes that Jacob probably intended to ultimately make it down to his brother, but just never did.  Why?  He was constantly traveling south.

a.     Succoth (Gen. 33:17)

b.    Shechem (Gen. 33:18)

c.    Bethel (Gen. 35:6)

d.    Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16)

e.     Hebron (Gen. 35:27)


M.  Genesis 33:18


And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan –aram, and pitched his tent before the city.


1.     “…most translators believe that ‘Shalem’ (meaning ‘peace’) should not be considered as a proper name here.  That is, the verse may mean ‘Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem’” (Morris, 507).

2.     If so, this would be a fulfillment of God’s promise made to Jacob (Gen. 18:15, 21; 31:3).


So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.


3.     This interpretation is strengthened by the part of the verse that states:  “…when he came from Padan-aram.”


N.   The purchase of land to build an altar (Gen. 33:19-20)


And he brought a parcel of a field, when he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money.  And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel.


1.     A person does not buy something that is already his.  It shows that Jacob was a stranger in this land.

2.     This was the second acquisition that the patriarchs had made (See Gen. 23:17-20).

3.     Hamor was a Hivite (Gen. 34:2).  This was a Canaanite tribe.

4.     Jacob built an altar:

a.     A center of worship was established for the true God.

b.    El-elohe-Israel – The true and Almighty God was the God of Israel

NOTE:  This is the first time we read of the use of the name Israel after the Jacob’s name had been changed.

5.     Shechem, Hamor’s son, is introduced to us.