corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 33

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 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.

Ver. 1. He divided the children.] Carnal fear oft expels man’s wisdom, and leaves him shiftless. But Jacob, after he had prayed and prevailed, was not so moped as not to know what to do in that great danger: he masters his fears, and makes use of two the likeliest means: (1.) The marshalling of his wives and children in best manner, for the saving of the last, at least; (2.) The marching before them himself, and doing low obeisance. So Esther, when she had prayed, resolved to venture to the king, whatever came of it. And our Saviour, though before fearful, yet, after he had prayed in the garden, goes forth and meets his enemies in the face, asking them, "Whom seek ye?". [John 18:4] Great is the power of prayer to steel the heart against whatsoever amazements.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. He put the handmaids, &c.] Of children and friends, some may be better beloved than others: and whereas all cannot be saved or helped, the dearest may be chiefly cared for.


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. And he passed over before them.] As a good captain and shepherd, ready to be sacrificed for the safety of his charge. So the Captain of our salvation, the Arch-shepherd, Christ. So should the under-shepherds, the captains, as ministers are called, fight in the front, and bear the brunt of the battle, "not loving their lives unto the death, so they may finish their course with joy," [Acts 20:24] de scuto magis quam de vita solliciti, as Epaminondas. The diamond in the priests’ breastplate showed what should be their hardness and hardiness, for the people’s welfare.


Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. And kissed him.] The word kissed hath a prick over every letter in the original: to note, say the Hebrew doctors, that this was a false and hypocritical kiss, a Judas-kiss. {Hebrew Text Note} Kαταφιλειν ου εστι φιλειν, saith Philo: Amos non semper est in osculo. But our interpreters are agreed that this kiss was a sign that his heart was changed from his former hatred, (a) and that those extraordinary pricks do denote the wonder of God’s work therein; which is further confirmed in that they both wept, which could not easily be counterfeit, though they were in Ishmael, that notable hypocrite, [Jeremiah 41:6] and in the emperor Andronicus, who, when he had injuriously caused many of the nobility to be put to death, pretended himself sorry for them, and that with tears plentifully running down his aged cheeks, as if he had been the most sorrowful man alive. So the Egyptian crocodile, having killed some living beast, lieth upon the dead body, and washeth the head thereof with her warm tears, which she afterward devoureth, with the dead body. (b) We judge more charitably of Esau here. And yet we cannot be of their mind, that herehence conclude his true conversion and salvation. We must take heed we neither make censure’s whip nor charity’s cloak too long: we may offend in both, and incur the curse, as well by "calling evil good," as "good evil". [Isaiah 5:20] Latomus of Lovain wrote, that there was no other a faith in Abraham than in Cicero. Another wrote a long defence and commendation of Cicero, and makes him a very good Christian, and true penitentiary, because he saith, somewhere, Reprehendo peccata mea, quid Pompeio conflsus, eiusque partes secutus fuerim. I believe neither of them. (c)


Verse 5

Genesis 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.

Ver. 5. The children which God hath graciously given.] Sept., Eχαριτατο. For children are God’s gifts, as David taught Solomon. [Psalms 127:3] It is well observed, that good Jacob before a bad man, speaks religiously, "God of his grace," &c.; and Esau, as bad as he was, makes no jest of it. There is no surer sign of a profane heart, than to jeer at good expressions; than which, nothing now-a-days is more familiar. Carnal spirits cannot hear savoury words, but they turn them off with a scorn, as Pilate did our Saviour, speaking of the truth, with that scornful profane question, "What is truth?" Shall these scoffers be counted Christians? Could any that heard Elijah mocking the service and servants of Baal, believe that Baal was God in his esteem? Shall not Esau rise up in judgment against such profane persons? And shall not Jacob disclaim all such profligate professors for having any relation to him, that dare not speak religiously, for fear of some Esau in company? that are ashamed to seem what they are, with Zedekiah, lest they that are fallen to the Chaldeans should mock them?


Verse 6

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

Ver. 7. After came Joseph near, &c.] Iussus accedere Joseph, saith Junius; for he was but a little one of six years old, therefore he did nothing, but as his mother bade him; and, because he went before her, he is first named.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 8. What meanest thou by all this drove? &c.] He met it, but had not yet accepted of it: either that he might take occasion at their meeting, more mannerly to refuse the present; or, that he might show his brotherly affection frankly and freely, not purchased or procured by any gift or present. Utrumque liberale et civile est, oblata munera modeste recusare, proesertim si grandia sint, et eadem ab instante humaniter acceptare. (a)


Verse 8

Genesis 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.

Ver. 9. I have enough, my brother.] Here is no mention of God: God is not in all the wicked man’s thoughts: he contents himself with a natural use of the creature, as brute beasts do. The godly taketh all as from God, and findeth no such sweetness, as in tasting how good the Lord is, in the creature. Tam Dei meminisse, opus est, quam respirare, saith one. But profane Esaus will neither have God in their heads, [Psalms 10:4] nor hearts, [Psalms 14:1] nor ways, [Titus 1:16] nor words. [Psalms 12:4] They stand in a posture of distance, nay, of defiance to God.


Verse 9

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

Ver. 10. As though I had seen the face of God.] I cannot but see God, and his goodness, in thy so unexpected kindness. "The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad," [Psalms 126:3] and think my present well bestowed.


Verse 11

Genesis 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].

Ver. 11. I have enough.] Heb., I have all. Esau had much, but Jacob had all, because he had the God of all. Habet omnia qui habet habentem omnia, saith Augustine. Esau’s "enough," in the original, is not the same with Jacob’s. (a) There are two manner of enoughs. Godliness only hath contentedness. [1 Timothy 6:6]


Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. Let us take our journey.] The Hebrews note, that Esau speaks in few, Jacob more fully: because it is the guise of proud stately persons to speak briefly, and hardly to bring forth half their words. "The poor speaketh supplications," saith Solomon; "but the rich answereth roughly". [Proverbs 18:23]


Verse 13

Genesis 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.

Ver. 13. If men should over-drive.] A pattern of a good pastor, ever to have an eye to the weak ones; and so to regard all in his flock, as he overdrive not any. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" [Zechariah 4:10] Weak ones are to be received, "but not to doubtful disputations." [Romans 14:1] Novices are not to be put upon the austerities of religion. [Matthew 9:15] Christ preached "as they were able to hear." [Mark 4:33] Peter was specially charged to look to the "lambs." [John 21:15] Christ "bears them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young." [Isaiah 40:11]


Verse 14

Genesis 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.

Ver. 14. Until I come unto my lord, unto Seir.] Which yet he never meant, say some: it was but an officious lie, saith Tostatus. Others think that he did go to Seir, though it he not recorded. It is like he purposed to go, but was otherwise warned by God; as the wise men were, [Matthew 2:12] or necessarily hindered, as St Paul was in many of his intended journeys.


Verse 15

Genesis 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.

Ver. 15. Let me find grace.] That is, Condescend unto me, and leave none.


Verse 16

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

Ver. 16. On his way unto Seir.] Whither God had sent him beforehand to plant, out of Jacob’s way. He was grown rich, desired liberty, and saw that his wives were offensive to the old couple; therefore he moved his dwelling to mount Seir, and left better room for Jacob; who, perhaps, had intelligence thereof from his mother, by Deborah, and so was the rather willing to return.


Verse 17

Genesis 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.

Ver. 17. Built him an house, and made booths.] So did his posterity, at their going out of Egypt, [Exodus 12:37] and, for a perpetual memorial thereof, were appointed to keep a yearly feast of booths or tabernacles, [Leviticus 23:34] made of green boughs of trees, in praise of God, who had now vouchsafed them better houses. And here one would wonder, saith a divine, (a) that all along, during the reign of David and Solomon, who gave a pattern of, and built the temple, and all those succeeding reformers, there should something be omitted about this feast of tabernacles, till their return from Babylon: yet so it was. [Nehemiah 8:16-17] This feast was kept, as it is thought, by Solomon, [2 Chronicles 7:8] and by these same Jews, [Ezra 3:4] yet not in this manner. Now [Nehemiah 8:14] they had learned, by sad experience, to keep it aright, in dwelling in booths, by having been lately strangers out of their own land: to signify which, and profess themselves strangers - as this "Syrian ready to perish their father" [Deuteronomy 26:5] was, now at Succoth - was the intent of that feast, and that rite of it, dwelling in booths. This is intimated, "They did read also out of the law," &c., [Nehemiah 8:17-18] which, till then, they had not done.


Verse 18

Genesis 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.

Ver. 18. Came to Shalem.] Or, Came safe and sound to Shechem, as the Chaldee interprets it.


Verse 19

Genesis 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.

Ver. 19. For an hundred pieces of money.] Heb., Lambs, - as (a) we call angels, Jacobuses, - because stamped with the image of a lamb. So Joshua 24:32, marg.; Job 42:11.


Verse 20

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

Ver. 20. And he erected there an altar.] (1.) As a memorial of the promises, and a symbol of God’s presence; (2.) As an external profession of his piety; (3.) That he might set up God in his family, and season all his worldly affairs with a relish of religion.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 33:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-33.html. 1865-1868.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology