Genesis 33:1-20

1 Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants.

And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.

Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down.

And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down.

Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”

But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”

10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.

11 Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you.”

13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die.

14 Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 And Esau said, “Now let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.”

16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.

17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.

18 Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city.

19 And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money.

20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.

Not all at once does “Jacob” cease to dominate the walk of “Israel” (v. 14). Compare Genesis 35:1-10, where the walk becomes according to the new name. — Scofield, page 49.

Williams (below) doesn’t have a lot of good to say about Jacob at this point.  Scofield seems to be indicating the same thing (above). I’m not sure if Jacob was totally wrong, but I did wonder when I first read the passage why he told Esau he would see him in Seir and then travel to Succoth.

The action of Esau shows how groundless were Jacob’s fears, and how needless his plans. The straight path of faith and obedience is free from the tormenting apprehensions which wear out the doubting heart.

Jacob’s thigh is disjointed, but his will remains unbroken and so immediately he begins to plan how he may deceive Esau. He engages to follow him to Mount Seir, but at once sets out for Succoth! This gives further insight into the depths of unbelief and evil in the heart of man and of the exceeding riches of grace in the heart of God. Notwithstanding the vision of the Angels, and the night of wrestling with God Himself, he resumes his evil schemings for self-conservation, and distrusts the promises of Divine preservation.

The folly of following his own thoughts is seen in his building a house at Succoth. It became a memorial of sin and shame. This is the first mention of a “house” in connection with the patriarchs. …

God was the God of Bethel. He had said to him: “I am the God of Bethel.” He had not said: “I am the God of Succoth,” and if he moves from Succoth it is to buy land in a country in which he was to be a pilgrim. No doubt he erects an altar there, for the conscience is uneasy without religious forms, but the Divinely chosen place for the altar was Bethel and not Shechem. — Williams, page 34-35.

Mackintosh is in the same camp.

After all this manifestation of God’s goodness, we find Jacob settling down in Succoth, and, contrary to the spirit and principles of a pilgrim life, building a house, as if it were his home. Now, Succoth was evidently no this divinely-appointed destination. The Lord had not said to him, I am the God of Succoth; no; but, “I am the God of Bethel.” Bethel, therefore, and not Succoth, should have been Jacob’s grand object. …

Jacob then moves on to Shechem, and purchases ground, still falling short of the divine mark … — Mackintosh, pages 306-307

Morris, on the other hand, has nothing but good to say about Jacob.

No sooner had Jacob returned to his family after his night of prayer then he saw Esau and his army approaching in the distance. As one final precaution, Jacob arranged his wives and children in appropriate order, the two handmaids and their children first, then Leah and her children, then Rachel and Joseph. …

As was customary in those days (the Tell el Amarna tablets record that one approaching a king always bowed seven times in so doing), Jacob bowed low before Esau seven times as he came near him. This was not intended as an acknowledgment of servility on Jacob’s part, but as a token of respect and recognition of Esau was ruler of the region. — Morris, page 503.


In the Authorized Version, both Esau and Jacob are reported as saying, “I have enough” (vs. 9, 11). However, the Hebrew words are different. Actually, Esau said, “I have much,” whereas Jacob said, “I have everything.” — Morris, page 505.


Esau … headed on back to Seir. Jacob also planned to continue south, but went much more slowly, actually stopping for considerable intervals at both Succoth and Shechem, Succoth (meaning “booths”) is probably the same place mentioned later in the time of Joshua (Joshua 13:27) and Gideon (Judges 8:5-16). It was still east of the Jordan and probably north of the Jabbok, in a plain where there was pasture for the flocks and where they could rest awhile to regain their strength. — Morris, page 506.


Jacob probably stayed longer in Succoth than he had originally anticipated, but eventually moved on. All of his company finally pulled up stakes and headed westward across the Jordan River. After crossing the Jordan, they came to a valley near the city of Shechem, and there Jacob pitched his tent. This was not very far from Succoth, but it was definitely in the land of Canaan and, actually, it was the place where God had first appeared to Abram as he entered the land (Genesis 12:6-7).

[Jacob dug a well near Shechem.] The well is not mentioned in Genesis but is referred to in the New Testament (John 4:6). Shechem was a prominent city throughout Biblical history, located on Mount Gerizim in what later became the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. It was very close to the future city of Samaria, which became the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

When Jacob arrived there, the city was controlled by the Hivites, a Canaanite tribe, whose chieftain was a man named Hamor. Hamor had a son named Shechem, possibly named after the city in which they lived. (It is possible also that the city was later named after Shechem, with these early references to the city’s name being later editorial insertions for the benefit of readers in Moses’ day.)

[Jacob] soon arranged to purchase from Hamor and his sons a substantial tract of property for a goodly price, a hundred pieces of silver. Much later, Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, would be buried on this same spot (Joshua 24:32). — Morris, pages 507-508.


Patriarchal life at first was simple and the intercourse with the outer world was meager and few and far between. In their trade they bartered the produce of the ground and the lambs of the flock and the cattle. Later came the introduction of precious metals: these at first were not put out in coins but weighed out to the seller. The third step is the use of coin which seems to have been first put out in Egypt. Of Abraham we read … that he possessed “sheep and oxen, he-asses and she-asses, and camels” (Genesis 12:6), but subsequently, after he had returned from his residence in Egypt, at that time the hub of culture, we read that “he was rich in cattle, in silver and gold” (Genesis 13:2), but he still took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech (Genesis 21:27), and he also presented to the Philistine king “seven ewe lambs” (Genesis 21:30).

The first recorded purchase with money we find in Abraham buying the field of Ephron with the cave of Macpelah, in order that he might bury his beloved Sarah. Here we are told that Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver current money with the merchant (Genesis 23:16).

The first time that we read of pieces of money or coins is in Genesis 33:19 where Jacob buys an inheritance for his sons from the children of Hamor for one hundred pieces of money or as we would say, one hundred dollars. Here we find the expression weighed out omitted and the word employed for piece of money is “kesitah,” which suggests that the figure of a lamb was stamped upon it, undoubtedly because it stood for a lamb and had the worth of one lamb. Even to Job was given such a “kesitah,” (Job 42:11). The Athenians had a coin with a “bous” or ox stamped on it; it having perhaps the value of an ox. These simple points show the early progress of civilization. These simple points show the early progress of civilization. — Bultema, pages 62-63.


El Elohe Israel (v.20) — This was an act of faith on Jacob’s part. In calling that altar El-elohe-Israel (God, the God of Israel), not only did he appropriate his new name but also claimed Elohim in a new sense, as the God through whom alone he could walk according to this new name. — Scofield, page 49.

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