33 Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. 2 He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. 4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
5 Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”
“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. 6 Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. 7 Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him.
8 “And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked.
Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.”
9 “My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself.”
10 But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! 11 Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.
12 “Well,” Esau said, “let’s be going. I will lead the way.”
13 But Jacob replied, “You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die. 14 Please, my lord, go ahead of your servant. We will follow slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for the livestock and the children. I will meet you at Seir.”
15 “All right,” Esau said, “but at least let me assign some of my men to guide and protect you.”
Jacob responded, “That’s not necessary. It’s enough that you’ve received me warmly, my lord!”
16 So Esau turned around and started back to Seir that same day. 17 Jacob, on the other hand, traveled on to Succoth. There he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was named Succoth (which means “shelters”).
18 Later, having traveled all the way from Paddan-aram, Jacob arrived safely at the town of Shechem, in the land of Canaan. There he set up camp outside the town. 19 Jacob bought the plot of land where he camped from the family of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of silver. 20 And there he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel.
Dear God, sometimes I wonder if it is ever possible to have a relationship with someone that is completely without manipulation. Well, let me change that. Yes, I believe it is possible for some people to have a relationship with others without any manipulation intended. But for someone like Jacob, his whole life is deception and self-preservation. I heard commentary on this passage and the next one in chapter 34 about is daughter Dinah that mentioned that Jacob didn’t want to deceive anymore. But that’s just not true. In this case, Jacob didn’t do what he told Esau he would do. He simply said what he had to say to survive the encounter, and then he didn’t follow Esau as he said he would, but set up camp somewhere else instead. Not that I disagree with Jacob’s decision to not put all of his people and belongings with Esau’s people, but he certainly wasn’t honest and forthright about it.
It’s funny because I have some people in my life who I simply do not trust to tell me the truth. Even when they come and tell me something that appears true, there is always part of me that guards against being manipulated. I’ve tried to give them benefit of the doubt to them before, but I’ve learned that they are simply like Jacob. They are out for self-preservation and will say anything they have to say to get away with whatever it is they want. It’s hard to have relationships with people like that. You can try to marginalize them and keep them at arm’s length, but then there comes a point where they cross a line I simply cannot tolerate.
Father, first, help me to not be like Jacob in these situations. Help me to be the man my family needs me to be. I understand that somehow Jacob got your blessing and ended up being the patriarch of your people, but I assume that is more about your plan washing through the generations and unfolding the way it did as opposed to anything that Jacob himself did. I don’t know that there is any part of me that wants to be like Jacob, but I do want you to use my life in any way that you see fit. Right now, I have some things that have cost me and some prices I have paid. I don’t know if they are my fault or, like Job, it’s simply the path you have for me and those I love to walk. But I do know that I earnestly want to follow you, worship you and give you glory for all that you are.
In Jesus’s name I pray,