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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 33

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 33:1. Behold, Esau came — Who had said, Genesis 27:41, “I will slay my brother Jacob;” and with him four hundred men — A force sufficient for him to do what he had threatened.


Verse 2-3

Genesis 33:2-3. He put Rachel and Joseph hinder-most — Giving those that were dearest to him most opportunity to escape. He passed over before them — Exposing himself to the first and greatest danger for the security of his wives and children. He bowed himself to the ground — Thus doing obeisance to Esau as an elder brother, though he feared him as an enemy.


Verse 4

Genesis 33:4. Esau ran to meet him — Not in anger, but in love: so wonderfully and suddenly had God, who hath the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases, changed his heart; and of an implacable enemy, made him a kind and affectionate friend! Embraced him, fell on his neck, and kissed him — God is the God of nature, and to be without natural affection is to be without God. They wept — Jacob wept for joy to be thus kindly received; Esau, perhaps, with grief and shame, to think of the ill design he had conceived against his brother.


Verse 5

Genesis 33:5. Who are these with thee? — Jacob had sent Esau an account of the increase of his estate, but had made no mention of his children, perhaps because he would not expose them to his rage if he should meet him as an enemy. Esau, therefore, had reason to make this inquiry: to which Jacob returned a serious answer: They are the children which God hath graciously given thy servant — He speaks of his children as God’s gifts; a heritage of the Lord, and as choice gifts, graciously given him. Though they were many, and but slenderly provided for, yet he accounts them great blessings.


Verse 10

Genesis 33:10. As though I had seen the face of God — That is, thy meeting me in this peaceable manner is very comfortable and refreshing to me, and an evident token of God’s favour to me, Psalms 41:11. Or, I have seen thee reconciled to me, and at peace with me, as I desire to see God reconciled.


Verse 11

Genesis 33:11. Take, I pray thee, my blessing — This gift, which, as I received it from God, I heartily give thee, with my blessing and prayer that God would bless it to thee.


Verse 12

Genesis 33:12. Let us go, I will go before thee — He offers himself to be Jacob’s guide and companion, in token of a sincere reconciliation. We do not find that Jacob and Esau were ever before so loving with one another as they were now. God had made Esau, not only not an enemy, but a friend. He is become fond of Jacob’s company, and invites him to go along with him to mount Seir. Let us never despair of any, nor distrust God, in whose hands all hearts are.


Verse 14

Genesis 33:14. Until I come unto my lord, to mount Seir — As no mention is made of it, many writers think, that, for some reasons, Jacob never went to mount Seir to see Esau. Certainly it is very doubtful whether he ever did. It cannot be supposed however, that he would delay so long as the time mentioned in the twenty-fifth chapter before he went to see his father.


Verse 15

Genesis 33:15. He said, What needeth it? — Esau having offered some of his men to be his guard and convoy, Jacob humbly refuses his offer. He is under the divine protection, and needs no other. Those are sufficiently guarded who have God for their guard, and are under a convoy of his hosts, as Jacob was. Jacob adds only, Let me find grace in the sight of my lord — Having thy favour, I have all I need, all I desire from thee.


Verse 17

Genesis 33:17. Jacob journeyed to Succoth — A place afterward known by that name, in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan; here he rested for the present, set up booths for his cattle, and built a house; doubtless some slight building, because he intended not to stay there; with other conveniences for himself and family. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth — That is, booths, that when his posterity afterward dwelt in houses of stone, they might remember that the Syrian, ready to perish, was their father, who was glad of booths, Deuteronomy 26:5.

Genesis 33:18-19. Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem — Or rather, as the Hebrew may be rendered, he came safe, or in peace, to the city of Shechem. After a perilous journey, in which he had met with many difficulties, he came safe at last into Canaan. He bought a parcel of a field — For his present possession and use; for the right which he already had to it was only in reversion, after the time that God had appointed. Of the children of Hamor — That is, subjects, called children, to signify the duty which they owed to him, and the care and affection he owed to them. Shechem’s father — He only of Hamor’s sons is mentioned, because he was more honourable than the rest of his brethren, (Genesis 34:19,) and so might probably transact this affair with Jacob, the rest consenting thereto.


Verse 20

Genesis 33:20. He erected there an altar — 1st, In thankfulness to God, for the good hand of his providence over him. 2d, That he might keep up religion and the worship of God in his family. He dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God the God of Israel: to the honour of God in general, the only living and true God, the best of Beings, the first of causes: and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. God had lately called him by the name of Israel; and now he calls God the God of Israel. Though he be styled a prince with God, God shall still be a prince with him, his Lord and his God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 33:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/genesis-33.html. 1857.

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