Genesis 32:1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him
Just before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord sent three holy men to commune with Abraham (Gen. 18:1-22). Similarly, at this key point in Jacob’s life, holy men—referred to in the scriptures as “angels”—are sent to give Jacob a message. Just as Abraham recognized his angels as mortal men and regarded them as his spiritual superiors, Jacob would have been humbly overjoyed to receive any message from them. The news, according to Josephus, was good: they “suggested to him good hope of his future condition.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, 20:1)
“Jacob’s journey home was remarkable for its divine manifestations. En route, the patriarch was met by “God’s host” (Gen. 32:2), angels of the Lord, who strengthened him. It is also likely these angels reminded Jacob of his powerful, life-changing vision of the ascending ladder at Bethel when he was leaving the promised land 20 years earlier. Now Jacob was returning to face a seemingly inevitable, possibly mortal conflict with Esau—a conflict which had been partially responsible for Jacob’s flight from Canaan in the first place. The angelic ministration during Jacob’s return trip appears to have been a sign and a reminder of divine protection and assistance.” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 53–54)
Genesis 32:2 This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
As in Elohim or cherubim, the suffix –im in Hebrew is a plural ending. Jacob was acknowledging two camps or hosts: his own and the Lord’s, meaning the Lord’s messengers. Jacob may not have felt worthy to join his camp with that of the angels who are referred to as “God’s host.”
An alternate meaning comes later in the chapter. Jacob divides his people and cattle into two separate camps for safety reasons. The two camps give additional meaning to the place-name Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:3 Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother
“That the looming conflict weighed heavily on Jacob’s mind seems beyond question, because immediately after his encounter with the angels, Jacob sent messengers to Esau’s territory in hopes of laying the groundwork for a peaceful reunion with his brother (see Gen. 32:3–5). The messengers returned with gravely distressing news: Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob became exceedingly fearful and divided his entourage into two groups, intending to preserve at least part of his family should Esau attack (see Gen. 32:6–8).” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 54)
Genesis 32:6-7 We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him
The first set of messengers brought no gifts, just news of Jacob’s identity. Did they actually speak with Esau or just turn tail when they learned whose travelling party it was? Josephus says that “these messengers told him this message. Upon which Esau was very glad.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, 20:1) Apparently, Esau’s joy was not apparent to the messengers because they return with a message that strikes fear into their master.
“It likely seemed a life crisis of staggering proportion in Jacob’s mind. He feared his family faced annihilation. Just as important, the promises of God were on trial; perhaps for a moment or two they looked like empty words and hollow phrases. But this life crisis set the stage for two events that would confirm forever the course of Jacob’s future. First, he earnestly pleaded with God for safety; second, he wrestled that night for a desperately needed blessing at the hand of Deity (see Gen. 32:9–12, 24–30).” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 54)
Genesis 32:10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies
“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies,” cries Jacob. Yet who has been given greater mercies than Jacob? To whom have the promises been greater? To whom has the Lord promised a greater posterity of his namesake than Jacob? Greatness is seen in the humility of the prophets and apostles. Paul admitted he was “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9), but we hardly think of Paul as the least of the apostles, nor should we think Jacob worthy of the least of the Lord’s mercies and truth.
Spencer W. Kimball
How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one's self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer. ...
When one becomes conscious of his great humility, he has already lost it. When one begins boasting of his humility, it has already become pride-the antithesis of humility. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 233)
Genesis 32:11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother
Though unworthy, we should follow Jacob’s example in calling upon the Lord for deliverance. God is all-powerful; if our cause is just, He will answer our prayers and deliver us from our enemies. That has been the pattern for Israel from the very day the name was given. It is the pattern for the children of Israel who are heirs of the same blessings as the fathers.
“We do not know how long Jacob prayed that day at the river Jabbok, but surely his prayer was intense. In it, he acknowledged the Lord’s goodness as well as his own heartfelt unworthiness. He pleaded for deliverance from the impending catastrophe, reminding God that He had told Jacob to leave Padan-aram and that He had also promised Jacob that his posterity would be as innumerable as the sands of the sea. How could this promise come to pass if Jacob and his family were annihilated?” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 54)
Joseph Smith (speaking of his time in Liberty Jail)
Notwithstanding that every avenue of escape seemed to be entirely closed, and death stared me in the face, and that my destruction was determined upon, as far as man was concerned, yet, from my first entrance into the camp, I felt an assurance that I, with my brethren and our families, should be delivered. Yes, that still small voice, which has so often whispered consolation to my soul, in the depths of sorrow and distress, bade me be of good cheer, and promised deliverance, which gave me great comfort. And although the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things, yet the Lord of Hosts, the God of Jacob was my refuge; and when I cried unto Him in the day of trouble, He delivered me; for which I call upon my soul, and all that is within me, to bless and praise His holy name. For although I was "troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" [see 2 Corinthians 4:8-9]. (History of the Church, 3:329)
Genesis 32:13-18 a present for Esau his brother
About 550 animals are sent in separate groups to appease Esau. Jacob has not forgotten how he obtained Esau’s birthright for a mess of pottage and his blessing with the help of his mother, Rebekkah (Gen. 26:36). Isaac’s blessing of Esau prophesied that he would serve his younger brother Jacob (Gen. 26:40). At the time, the hate was bitter. But every man has a price, right? What would it take to appease Esau? Jacob hasn’t been around for 20 years so he hardly knows Esau’s frame of mind. Esau was a man of the field so flocks seem to be a good bet, the more the better. If he didn’t care for the goats, maybe he would be excited about the sheep, camels, or cattle.
Genesis 32:24 Jacob was left alone
Jacob stayed back for one reason—to petition the Lord. He wanted to be alone to ponder and pray. He needed the Lord and needed some privacy.
The abbreviated record which comes down to us is silent as to what transpired that night. We know more about Jacob’s wrestle with the angel than we do about his wrestle with the Lord. Undoubtedly, if we had the full record, we would find that Jacob had an Enos-like experience that night. You can imagine him saying, “I will tell you of the wrestle I had before God… my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my maker and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:2,4). How do we know that Jacob communed with God and not just an angel? What did Jacob name the place? Wasn’t it “Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”? (v. 30)
Much like Enos, Jacob spent the night seeking deliverance for the Lord. He apparently saw the Lord “face to face” and received a promise directly of the Lord that his life would be preserved, but somehow the abbreviated account we have focuses on the subsequent wrestling match with the angel. That won’t be the last time the scribes responsible for Genesis left out plain and precious morsels. Nephi saw that after the Apostles recorded the gospel of the Lamb, that “many plain and precious things (were) taken away from the book.” (1 Ne 13:28). Well the same tragic loss occurred to the Old Testament record as well. Josephus wrote his history between 60 and 75 AD. Yet his copy of the record speaks of the wrestling match with the angel only. Was it too hard for the scribes to believe that Jacob saw God, that he knew Jehovah personally?
Spencer W. Kimball
(Speaking of his call to the Apostleship 12 weeks before he was sustained) [During] those long days and weeks I did a great deal of thinking and praying, and fasting and praying. There were conflicting thoughts that surged through my mind—seeming voices saying: ‘You can’t do the work. You are not worthy. You have not the ability’—and always finally came the triumphant thought: ‘You must do the work assigned—you must make yourself able, worthy, and qualified.’ And the battle raged on.
“I remember reading that Jacob wrestled all night, ‘until the breaking of the day,’ (Gen. 32:24) for a blessing; and I want to tell you that for eighty-five nights I have gone through that experience, wrestling for a blessing. Eighty-five times, the breaking of the day has found me on my knees praying to the Lord to help me and strengthen me and make me equal to this great responsibility that has come to me. I have not sought positions nor have I been ambitious. Promotions have continued to come faster than I felt I was prepared for them. (“The Resolve of Obedience,” Ensign, Dec. 1985, 32)
Genesis 32:24 there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day
From the camp of angels, God’s host (v. 1-2), came one divine messenger to Jacob. He was a mortal messenger not a spirit angel. The term angel must mean a mortal messenger of God. A mortal can’t wrestle a spirit any more than he can punch a ghost (D&C 129:3-8). Theoretically, a mortal could wrestle a resurrected being, but there were no resurrected angels in Jacob’s day, Christ being the firstfruits. Can we imagine Joseph Smith wrestling angel Moroni? That would be an interesting match but I would put my money on Moroni.
“President Joseph Fielding Smith offered the following: ‘Who wrestled with Jacob on Mount Peniel? The scriptures say it was a man. The Bible interpreters say it was an angel. More than likely it was a messenger sent to Jacob to give him the blessing. To think he wrestled and held an angel who couldn’t get away, is out of the question. The term angel as used in the scriptures, at times, refers to messengers who are sent with some important instruction. Later in this chapter when Jacob said he had beheld the Lord, that did not have reference to his wrestling.’
“At Jabbok, Jacob was brought to the limit of his faith and understanding. He stood figuratively in the place his grandfather, Abraham, had stood when God asked for the life of Isaac, and Abraham could not see how the promises of the covenant (specifically the promise of a great posterity) would be fulfilled. Abraham had been obedient in the face of a test that shook him to his very core. Jacob likewise was obedient in the face of his ordeal, but he desired a blessing from the being with whom he talked—a blessing to strengthen his faith and guide the course of his life. He wanted and needed light and knowledge. Despite his intimate contact with Deity and his temple experience 20 years earlier, the threatening situation with Esau seemed to present an unresolvable dilemma: How could the covenant continue if the bearers of the covenant were destroyed? So in faith Jacob petitioned and worked with a divine being all night long to obtain the blessing he needed.
“Men and women in every dispensation have had to wrestle at some point in their lives for desired blessings, greater truth, and light from God… President Brigham Young said that all of us are situated ‘upon the same ground,’ in that we must ‘struggle, wrestle and strive until the Lord bursts the vail [sic] and suffers [allows] us to behold his glory, or a portion of it.’ And so it was with Jacob on that lonely night near the river Jabbok, when he began to wrestle with a divine visitor for a blessing—a blessing that would burst the veil and shower down on him greater light and glory from God.
“Jacob’s spiritual tenacity and his great physical endurance achieved the desired result. Perhaps like many of us who struggle day to day, wrestling with our own challenges to qualify for the Lord’s blessings, he received in the end far more than he might have expected. He was rewarded with an endowment of power that we only begin to glimpse in the biblical account (see D&C 132:37; D&C 133:55; D&C 138:41). His visitor said: ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed’ (Gen. 32:28). This great endowment came in accordance with the principle described in Ether 12:6: ‘For ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.’” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 54-56)
Genesis 32:25 the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him
The language suggests that Jacob’s hip joint had been dislocated. Such an injury would be so painful that any wrestler would call it quits. Jewish translations may be more accurate, “When he [the angel] saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained.” (The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ed. by W. Gunther Plaut [New York, The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981], 218, italics added) If Jacob had a strained of sprained hip, he could still wrestle through the pain. If the injury was a dislocation, he would not be able to walk on it the next day as recorded in v. 31.
Genesis 32:26 I will not let thee go, except thou bless me
The wrestling match is a brilliant metaphor for the spiritual struggle that Jacob just had with the Lord. The spiritual struggle is likely the one that took most of the night, but the physical contest that followed was just as intense. Wrestling in the Spirit, Jacob didn’t give up without the promise of protection from God; wrestling physically, he won’t let the angel go. First, he petitions the Lord for a blessing then requires one from the angel.
“Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob desired, sought for, wrestled for, and craved the presence of God. They prayed for it, worked for it, and lived for it. In the Old Testament we find a powerful, personal record of their success, and the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that these patriarchs ‘have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods’ (D&C 132:37).
“As members of the Church we are the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the inheritors of the Abrahamic covenant. What is the Abrahamic covenant to the righteous if it is not candidacy for exaltation? As with Jacob, the task of turning candidacy into reality is up to us. Let us wrestle for our blessings that we are promised as we continue to worship in the temples of the Lord.” (Andrew C. Skinner, “Jacob: Keeper of Covenants,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 56)
Genesis 32:28 thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel
“The word ‘Israel’ means one who prevails with God. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel at the time he received the covenant that had been conferred upon Abraham, his grandfather (see Gen. 32:28). His lineal posterity are known in the earth as the house of Israel, although most of them have been scattered throughout the earth and their identity has been lost, except to the Lord. The covenant was later conferred upon Joseph the son of Jacob, and upon his son Ephraim who was given the birthright in Israel in the last days (see 1 Chr. 5:1–2; Jer. 31:9). In keeping with the Lord’s covenant to Abraham, whenever an individual accepts the gospel of Jesus Christ, he becomes a member of the house of Israel, regardless of his actual lineage because he becomes an heir to the blessings of the covenant. The word “Israel” therefore has more than one meaning today, and a literal descendant of Israel may lose his spiritual heritage if he does not accept the gospel. Thus, Paul in speaking of lineal Israel can say to the Romans, ‘They are not all Israel, which are of Israel’ (Rom. 9:6), meaning that one must become an Israelite by covenant, not simply by lineage, if he wants the blessings of eternal salvation. In this respect, those not of Israel who joined the Church—such as Cornelius and his family in New Testament times (see Acts 10–11) were given the same promise of salvation through the gospel as were the Israelites. In a sense, they were adopted, or grafted, into the house of Israel. Whether in Abraham’s time, or in New Testament times, or in the Fulness of Times, Israel is the name and inheritance confirmed upon all who accept the covenants of the gospel (see Rom. 11 and Jacob 5). And those who obey the covenants of the gospel will continue as members of the house of Israel in eternity, ruling forever as kings and priests over their posterity.
“The house of Israel has been scattered throughout the whole world and among all nations so that today there are probably very few places and people in which the blood of Israel is not present to some degree. This does not annul nor supercede the promises made to Adam, Enoch, and Noah about their posterity, but is the way through which the covenants and purposes of the Lord in all ages might be brought to a fulfillment.” (Robert J. Matthews, “Our Covenants with the Lord,” Ensign, Dec. 1980, 38)
Genesis 32:31 as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh
When Jacob sent his family across the river the night before, all was darkness. He feared his flocks, servants, and family would be destroyed. Now, his hip is so painful that he can barely walk. Remember his original plan—divide the company into two groups? That way, if Esau attacks one, the other can make a quick getaway. Well Jacob can’t run now. While that reality should have sent shivers down his spine, the sun rose upon Jacob with all the warmth and assurance as one protected by God. While the injury prevented any possibility of a quick escape, it also required him to trust completely on the Lord. He couldn’t run, but it didn’t matter—he had the Lord on his side. This is a good lesson for all of us—especially the proud and self-reliant. We will find that when the Lord really puts us to the test, He removes all of our strength to fend for ourselves. Complete reliance on the Lord is one of the last lessons learned by the most righteous of saints.
Genesis 32:32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day
The scribe who is writing this account lived about 1000 BC. He is familiar with the Hebrew custom of not eating the meat from the inner thigh. To him, that is the significance of this story. He has left out the spiritual struggle that was so important to Jacob. Completely missed is the idea that Jacob’s injury leaves him utterly dependent on the mercy of his brother and the protection of the Lord. He has omitted details about Jacob seeing the Lord face to face, but he is satisfied with this piece of historical trivia. Latter-day Saints are used to the profound commentary of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. With much of the Old Testament, you don’t get that.
Genesis 33:2 He put the handmaids and the children foremost
Is Jacob a coward? He seems to be placing the children in the most dangerous of positions. If Esau has come for revenge, the children will be first to go! Jacob puts everyone in front of him as if to protect himself. Is that right?
An army coming for war attacks with its captain in front. Jacob was making sure that Esau could see from a distance that his party was not coming to fight. It was a calculated risk. He figured that while Esau may want him dead, he certainly wouldn’t be so callous as to kill his nieces and nephews. The handmaids and children might soften his heart and give him a chance (see Mosiah 23:33-34). The plan worked.
Genesis 33:3 Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him
Esau gives Jacob the welcome of a prodigal son. While Jacob was no prodigal, he was in the sense that he needed forgiveness from his brother. As far as Esau’s experience was concerned, Jacob was not a good person. Esau is the hero of this story. His mercy, his forgiveness, his love are an example to all of us who have been hurt by someone. In this case Esau was hurt by someone that was supposed to be a good person. Does that make it harder to forgive? It didn’t matter to Esau.
Gordon B. Hinckley
How difficult it is for any of us to forgive those who have injured us. We are all prone to brood on the evil done us. That brooding becomes as a gnawing and destructive canker. Is there a virtue more in need of application in our time than the virtue of forgiving and forgetting? There are those who would look upon this as a sign of weakness. Is it? I submit that it takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one's abilities in planning retribution. There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you can "get even." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 229)
Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother on the first intimations of repentance, and asking forgiveness; and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy, before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 3:383)
Spencer W. Kimball
I was struggling with a community problem in a small ward ... where two prominent men, leaders of the people, were deadlocked in a long and unrelenting feud. Some misunderstanding between them had driven them far apart with enmity. As the days, weeks, and months passed, the breach became wider. The families of each conflicting party began to take up the issue and finally nearly all the people of the ward were involved. Rumors spread and differences were aired and gossip became tongues of fire until the little community was divided by a deep gulf. I was sent to clear up the matter. After a long stake conference, lasting most of two days, I arrived at the frustrated community about six p.m., Sunday night, and immediately went into session with the principal combatants.
How we struggled! How I pleaded and warned and begged and urged! Nothing seemed to be moving them. Each antagonist was so sure that he was right and justified that it was impossible to budge them.
The hours were passing-it was now long after midnight, and despair seemed to enshroud the place; the atmosphere was still one of ill temper and ugliness. Stubborn resistance would not give way. Then it happened. I aimlessly opened my Doctrine and Covenants again and there before me it was. I had read it many times in past years and it had had no special meaning then. But tonight it was the very answer. It was an appeal and an imploring and a threat and seemed to be coming direct from the Lord. I read from the seventh verse on, but the quarreling participants yielded not an inch until I came to the ninth verse. Then I saw them flinch, startled, wondering. Could that be right? The Lord was saying to u—to all of us—"Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another."
This was an obligation. They had heard it before. They had said it in repeating the Lord's Prayer. But now: "... for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord ..." (D&C 64:7-9.)
In their hearts, they may have been saying: "Well, I might forgive if he repents and asks forgiveness, but he must make the first move." Then the full impact of the last line seemed to strike them: "For there remaineth in him the greater sin."
What? Does that mean I must forgive even if my antagonist remains cold and indifferent and mean? There is no mistaking it.
A common error is the idea that the offender must apologize and humble himself to the dust before forgiveness is required. Certainly, the one who does the injury should totally make his adjustment, but as for the offended one, he must forgive the offender regardless of the attitude of the other. Sometimes men get satisfactions from seeing the other party on his knees and grovelling in the dust, but that is not the gospel way.
Shocked, the two men sat up, listened, pondered a minute, then began to yield. This scripture added to all the others read brought them to their knees. Two a.m. and two bitter adversaries were shaking hands, smiling and forgiving and asking forgiveness. Two men were in a meaningful embrace. This hour was holy. Old grievances were forgiven and forgotten, and enemies became friends again. No reference was ever made again to the differences. The skeletons were buried, the closet of dry bones was locked and the key was thrown away, and peace was restored. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 240-241)
Genesis 33:8-9 Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself
Neal A. Maxwell
It is useful at times… for the Christian beset with the cares of the world to be reminded of some of those good individuals who have lost that precious perspective of faith for a season.
What of that mess of pottage now, for which Esau was willing to sell his birthright? (See Genesis 25:29-34.) Not understanding his birthright, Esau "despised" it. Later he despised Jacob too, and thought to murder him when Jacob officially received the birthright blessing (see Genesis 27:26-41). But, my, how gracious Esau grew to be, as evidenced when his and Jacob's caravans met in the desert many years later! (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 12)
Neal A. Maxwell
Jacob is anxious and assembles many gifts, but he had no reason to fear, for “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Gen. 33:4).
The gifts were offered, but “Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself” (Gen. 33:9).
Notice how not only Jacob but Esau has grown. Though Jacob’s anxiety was understandable, generous Esau soon relieved him of his concern. (Ensign, Apr. 1981, 59)
Genesis 33:11 God hath dealt graciously with me… I have enough
Esau and Jacob are both wealthy but they are not greedy. Esau declares, “I have enough, my brother” (v. 9). Jacob also says, “I have enough” (v. 11). Ironically, it is the wealthy that sometimes have a hard time admitting that they “have enough.” Wealth breeds a love of wealth. Comfort seeks to be more comfortable. Rich is good, but more is better. Is happiness having everything you want or being happy with everything you have? Neither Esau nor Jacob made the mistake of falling into Satan’s greed trap. They were smart enough to say, “I have enough.”
“My wife and I learned a valuable lesson about this several years ago when we had the opportunity finally to build a new home. During the months of planning and building, an interesting phenomenon occurred. Even though we were blessed to have a nicer home with more comforts than we had ever had before, rather than being content, we began looking for ways to acquire more. We had to have new furniture for the upstairs family room so that we could put the old furniture downstairs. But the old entertainment center, a large piece of furniture that held our stereo and TV equipment, didn’t go well with the new furniture, so we had to have a new one. And instead of our antiquated stereo system, we now needed a new CD player with the latest technology. Then we had to accumulate a whole new library of expensive CDs to go with it. Whether it was the desire for new furniture, draperies, or landscaping for the house, we easily rationalized our covetousness by saying they were legitimate needs or ‘just wants.’
“Finally, we came to a stark realization about two things that we previously felt would never be a source of temptation for us: first, Satan can help us rationalize any desire for worldly gain so that it appears justifiable, even noble; and second, striving to acquire the things of the world not only does not bring lasting happiness and peace, but it drives us to seek more. When “all we’ve ever wanted” is grounded in the temporal trappings of this world, it is never enough!” (Brent L. Top, “Thou Shalt Not Covet,” Ensign, Dec. 1994, 25)
Genesis 33:12-15 Let us take our journey
Esau rejoiced to have Jacob back, and he is ready to head home: “Let us take our journey,” he invites. Jacob seems to be still a bit tenuous. He declines travelling with Esau. He declines Esau’s offer to have some of his men help him along.
Why is Jacob so hesitant? His responses sound more like excuses than legitimate concerns. What is the problem?
Well, he still might be a little uncomfortable with Esau. For the last 20 years, the only reunion Jacob could imagine with Esau was a violent one. His anguish is apparent as the tense moment of reunion approaches. Jacob doesn’t seem to be able to process Esau’s generosity. The apparent forgiveness seems too much, too fast, too unbelievable. So Jacob is cautious. In case Esau or his men change their mind, in case the whole forgiveness thing is a rouse, in case tomorrow brings judgment instead of mercy, Jacob decides to hang back.
Genesis 33:16-19 Esau returned that day… and Jacob journeyed to Succoth
“The brothers still seem wary of one another, and when Esau proposes that they travel together, Jacob pleads that the war band will travel too fast for his group. He promises to follow behind but declines an offer of an armed guard (Genesis 33:15). Now, we learn that Jacob is not entirely renewed after his struggle at Jabbok. For, instead of heading south, and following his brother to Edom as he promised, he heads west and settles at Shechem, even buying land there.” (Barry J. Beitzel, ed., Biblica: The Bible Atlas, [Australia: Global Book Publishing, 2006], 122)