וַיִּשָּׂא יַעֲקֹב עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה עֵשָׂו בָּא וְעִמּוֹ אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ וַיַּחַץ אֶת הַיְלָדִים עַל לֵאָה 33:1
וְעַל רָחֵל וְעַל שְׁתֵּי הַשְּׁפָחוֹת
Gene. 33:1 And Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming and four hundred men were with him. And he divided the children by Leah and by Rachel and by the two handmaids.
וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת הַשְּׁפָחוֹת וְאֶת יַלְדֵיהֶן רִאשֹׁנָה וְאֶת לֵאָה וִילָדֶיהָ אַחֲרֹנִים וְאֶת רָחֵל וְאֶת יוֹסֵף אַחֲרֹנִים 33:2
Gene. 33:2 And he put the handmaids and their children in front, and Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.
Why do you suppose Jacob arranged them in that order? Did he expect that Esau would attack, so he placed them in inverse order to that of his preference? Obviously, he didn’t place them in the order of the births of his children, since Leah was the first to bear (Gene. 29:32). Did he “know” that Esau would welcome him with open arms, so he arranged his women and children in the order in which he wanted to introduce them? I imagine Jacob’s purpose encompassed one of two possibilities: One was to place them in inverse order of his preference, whether to expose them to attack or to introduce them. The second might be a prophetic hint at Jacob’s later disappointment with two of Leah’s elder sons, Simeon and Levi (Gene. 34:30).
וְהוּא עָבַר לִפְנֵיהֶם וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אַרְצָה שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים עַד גִּשְׁתּוֹ עַד אָחִיו 33:3
Gene. 33:3 And he passed over before them and bowed down to the ground seven times until he came close up to his brother.
וַיָּרָץ עֵשָׂו לִקְרָאתוֹ וַיְחַבְּקֵהוּ וַיִּפֹּל עַל צַוָּארָו וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ וַיִּבְכּוּ 33:4
Gene. 33:4 And Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell upon his neck and kissed him and they wept.
וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת הַיְלָדִים וַיֹּאמֶר מִי אֵלֶּה לָּךְ וַיֹּאמַר הַיְלָדִים אֲשֶׁר חָנַן 33:5
אֱלֹהִים אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ
Gene. 33:5 And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children and said, “Who are these with you?” And he said, “The children with whom God has favored your servant.”
וַתִּגַּשְׁןָ הַשְּׁפָחוֹת הֵנָּה וְיַלְדֵיהֶן וַתִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶיןָ 33:6
Gene. 33:6 Then the handmaids came near, they and their children, and bowed down.
וַתִּגַּשׁ גַּםלֵאָה וִילָדֶיהָ וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ וְאַחַר נִגַּשׁ יוֹסֵף וְרָחֵל וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ 33:7
Gene. 33:7 And Leah also came near with her children and they bowed down; and after, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down.
וַיֹּאמֶר מִי לְךָ כָּל הַמַּחֲנֶה הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר פָּגָשְׁתִּי וַיֹּאמֶר לִמְצֹא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי 33:8
Gene. 33:8 And he said, “Whose is all this camp that I have met, yours?” And he said, “To find favor in the eyes of my lord.”
וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו יֶשׁלִי רָב אָחִי יְהִי לְךָ אֲשֶׁר לָךְ 33:9
Gene. 33:9 And Esau said, “I have enough, my brother. Let be yours what is yours.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב, אַל נָא אִםנָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ מִנְחָתִי מִיָּדִי כִּי עַל כֵּן רָאִיתִי פָנֶיךָ 33:10
כִּרְאֹת פְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים וַתִּרְצֵנִי
Gene. 33:10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your eyes, then you would take my gift from my hand, for as much as I have seen your face as if seeing the face of God, and you accepted me.”
I think Jacob here employs an amazing, remarkably shrewd, metaphor, alluding to the knowledge that one seeing the face of God would die. In doing so, he is comparing Esau’s face with that of God, paying Esau an incredible compliment. But this seems to be another faux pas on the part of the scribe. Writing some time after the Exodus, he must have known that seeing the face of God would be fatal, because that isn’t revealed until Exo. 33:20. Jacob would not have understood this at the time (unless, again, he was prescient).
On the other hand, Jacob’s words may merely reflect his recent struggle with the man, implying that the “man” was God’s representative or God Himself. And since he was accepted then, Esau would certainly accept him now.
I prefer my first conclusion as expressed in the first paragraph above, as the logic of the latter paragraph is a bit convoluted. There is further evidence for the first conclusion: Jacob refers to Esau as “my lord” repeatedly during their meeting, showing obvious respect. It is easy to stretch this to acknowledging his intent to compliment Esau.
קַח נָא אֶת בִּרְכָתִי אֲשֶׁר הֻבָאת לָךְ כִּי חַנַּנִי אֱלֹהִים וְכִי יֶשׁ לִי כֹל וַיִּפְצַר בּוֹ וַיִּקָּח 33:11
Gene. 33:11 “Please take my present that is given to you because God has favored me and because I have more than enough.” And he pressed on him so that he took.
וַיֹּאמֶר נִסְעָה וְנֵלֵכָה וְאֵלְכָה לְנֶגְדֶּךָ 33:12
Gene. 33:12 And he said, “Let us be on our way and let us go and I will proceed to the front of you.”
The word for and I will proceed contains a non-inverting vav, as the verb is first-person imperfect.
וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲדֹנִי יֹדֵעַ כִּי־הַיְלָדִים רַכִּים וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר עָלֹות עָלָי וּדְפָקוּם יֹום אֶחָד וָמֵתוּ 33:13
Gene. 33:13 And he said to him, “My lord knows how the children are weak and the flock and the cattle suckling with me; and they will overdrive them one day, and all the flock will die.”
יַעֲבָר נָא אֲדֹנִי לִפְנֵי עַבְדּוֹ וַאֲנִי אֶתְנָהֲלָה לְאִטִּי לְרֶגֶל הַמ ְּלָאכָה אֲשֶׁר לְפָנַי וּלְרֶגֶל הַיְלָדִים עַד 33:14
אֲשֶׁר אָבֹא אֶל אֲדֹנִי שֵׂעִירָה
Gene. 33:14 “Let my lord pass over, please, before his servant and I will continue gently according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the children, until the time that I will come to my lord, to Seir.”
וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו אַצִּיגָה נָּא עִמְּךָ מִן הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אִתִּי וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָּה זֶּה אֶמְצָאחֵן בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי 33:15
Gene. 33:15 And Esau said, “Let me leave now with you some of the people who are with me.” And he said, “Why now? Let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”
וַיָּשָׁב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עֵשָׂו לְדַרְכּוֹ שֵׂעִירָה 33:16
Gene. 33:16 So Esau turned back that day for his journey to Seir.
וְיַעֲקֹב נָסַע סֻכֹּתָה וַיִּבֶן לוֹ בָּיִת וּלְמִקְנֵהוּ עָשָׂה סֻכֹּת עַל כֵּן קָרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם סֻכּוֹת 33:17
Gene. 33:17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and he built a house for himself and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בְּבֹאוֹ מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם וַיִּחַן אֶת פְּנֵי הָעִיר 33:18
Gene. 33:18 So Jacob came unharmed to the city of Shechem that is in the land of Canaan in his coming from Paddan-aram, and he encamped before the city. [Return to Gene. 37:12]
וַיִּקֶן אֶת חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר נָטָה שָׁם אָהֳלוֹ מִיַּד בְּנֵי חֲמוֹר אֲבִי שְׁכֶם בְּמֵאָה קְשִׂיטָה 33:19
Gene. 33:19 And he bought a parcel of the land where he had spread his tent from the hand of the children of Hamor, father of Shechem, for one hundred pieces of silver.
As we will soon see, the names Shechem and Hamor, as they are mentioned here are not of cities, but of men.
וַיַּצֶּב שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ אֵל-אֱלֹהֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל 33:20
Gene. 33:20 And he erected an altar there and called it El-elohe-Israel.
The name of the altar means God is God of Israel. [Return to Josh. 24:1]
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