Jacob’s Reconciliation with Esau

Genesis 32:1-33:20
I. Observation A. Who are the main characters? What do we know about them? 1. Jacob: 2. Esau:

B. When do the events of this passage take place? • The events of this passage appear to happen immediately following the events of the previous chapter, where Laban and Jacob make a covenant and Laban bids farewell to his daughters and grandchildren. As we saw last week, Jacob had worked for Laban for 20 years. C. Where do the events of this passage take place? • The previous passage ends in Gilead, east of the Jordan. • Jacob meets the angels of God and names the place Mahanaim, which is near the Jabbok, an eastern tributary of the Jordan, approx 24 miles north of the Dead Sea. • Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel, thought to be on the north side of the Jabbok, approx 10 miles east of the Jordan River. It is also near here that Jacob and Esau are reunited (33:1) • After the reunion, Jacob settles at Succoth, near where the Jabbok flows into the Jordan River. • By the end of the passage, we see that Jacob has made it safely to the city of Shechem, west of Succoth, approximately 20 miles west of the Jordan D. What is happening in this passage? (Summary of Events) 1. Jacob departs after making covenant with Laban (31:55) and continues journey home (32:1) 2. Jacob sends messengers ahead in an effort to determine Esau’s feelings toward him (32:3-5) 3. Jacob’s messengers return and tell him that Esau is coming to meet them with 400 men (32:6) 4. Jacob, fearing Esau’s wrath, divides his people and livestock into 2 groups (32:7-8) 5. Jacob prays to God, expressing his humility, fear, and dependence on God for protection (32:9-12) 6. Jacob selects a substantial gift for Esau from his possessions and sends it ahead in groups (32:13-21) 7. Jacob sends wives and children as well as his possessions across the ford of the Jabbok (32:22-23) 8. Jacob wrestles with a man (God) all throughout the night; God blesses Jacob (32:24-30) 9. God changes Jacob’s name to Israel; Jacob names the place “Peniel” (32:27-30) 10. Jacob sees Esau and his men; divides and arranges order of children; Jacob goes out to meet (33:1-3) a. The order (maidservants, then Leah, then Rachel) may indicate an order of importance. If Esau intended harm toward Jacob’s family, perhaps those further back could escape. b. The order could also be customary…first the servants, then the older/first wife, then the younger. c. Regardless, Jacob himself goes ahead in front of his family, and places himself between them and the potential wrath of his brother, Esau. 11. Esau runs to greet Jacob with warm embrace and love; Jacob introduces his family (33:4-7) 12. Esau resists Jacob’s gifts, but concedes after much convincing from Jacob (33:8-11) 13. Esau suggests they leave together, but Jacob declines and follows slower in order to prevent unnecessary stress and potential harm to his children and livestock. (33:12-15) 14. Esau sets out toward Seir; Jacob sets out toward Succoth and sets up shelters for livestock (33:16-17) 15. Eventually, Jacob arrives safely at the city of Shechem and camps outside the city. He purchases land from the locals to live on and set up an altar to God (33:18-20) II. Interpretation/Discussion Questions • What principles are illustrated in this passage? What is the theme of the passage? What exactly happened when Jacob wrestled God and what is significant about it?

What is the significance of Jacob’s name change to Israel?

How is Jacob’s relationship with and attitude toward his brother different now versus earlier?

III. Application • Reconciliation is only possible with true repentance. Just as fellowship was restored b/w Jacob and Esau when Jacob came to Esau with a broken, repentant heart, so is our fellowship with God restored when we come to him in true repentance.

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