Genesis 31-33 The Fear QA

The Fear

Background Text: Genesis 31 through Genesis 33

Printed Text: Genesis 31:55-33:20

 

Genesis 31:55 And White (Laban) early-rose in the morning. And he kissed to his sons and to his daughters. And he blessed them. And he walked. And White (Laban) returned to his place.

 

Chapter 32

1And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) walked to his way. And messengers of Elohim encountered into him. 2And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) said, just-as he saw, “This is the camp of Elohim!” And he called the name of that place Two-Camps.

 

3And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) sent messengers to his faces unto Hairy his brother toward the land of He-Goat field of Red. 4And he commanded them to say, “Thus ye shall say to my lord, to Hairy, ‘So said thy slave He-Will-Heel (Jacob), “I sojourned with White (Laban), and I afterwarded unto now. 5And an ox is to me and an ass, a flock and a slave and a woman-slave. And I sent her to tell to my lord to find favour in thine eyes.”’”

 

6And the messengers returned unto He-Will-Heel (Jacob) to say, “We came unto thy brother, unto Hairy. And also he walked to meet thee. And four hundred man are with him!” 7And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) feared very-much. And he ‘tribulated’ to him.

 

And he halved the people that is with him and the flock and the herd and the camels to two camps. 8And he said, “If Hairy will come unto the one camp and he will smite him, and the remaining camp will be for an escape.”

 

9And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) said, “Gods of my father Father-Of-A-Multitude (Avraham) and Gods of my father He-Will-Laugh (Isaac), Yehovah Who said unto me, ‘Return to thy land and to thy childhood,’ and ‘I have good-done with thee,’ 10I smalled from all the graces and from all the Truth that Thou did with Thy slave. For I crossed-over this Jordan via my staff. And now I was to two camps. 11Deliver me, na, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Hairy (Esau)! For I am fearing him lest he will come and will smite me, mother upon children! 12And Thou, Thou hast said, ‘Good-doing, I will good-do with thee,’ and, ‘I will put thy seed as sand of the sea that he will not scroll from multiplication.’”

 

13And he lodged there in that night. And he took a rest to Hairy his brother from the comer into his hand: 14two hundred she-goats and twenty butt-ers, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty lactating camels and their children, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten he-asses. 16And he gave into the hand of his slaves, a flock a flock by himself. And he said unto his slaves, “Cross-ye-over to my faces. And ye shall put a breather between flock and between flock.” 17And he commanded the head to say, “For Hairy my brother will meet thee. And he will ask thee to say, ‘To whom art thou?’ and ‘Where wilt thou walk?’ and ‘To whom are these to thy faces?’ 18And thou shalt say, ‘To thy slave—to He-Will-Heel (Jacob). He is a rest sent to my lord—to Hairy. And behold, he is also after us.’” 19And he commanded also the second, also the third, also all the walkers after the flocks to say, “Ye shall speak as this speech unto Hairy in your finding him. 20And ye shall also say, ‘Behold, thy slave He-Will-Heel (Jacob) is after us.’” For he said, “I will cover her—his faces—via the rest walking to my faces. And afterward I will see his faces. Perhaps he will carry my faces.” 21And the rest crossed over upon his faces. And he lodged in that night in the camp.

 

22And he, he arose in that night. And he took his two women and his two womenslaves and his eleven sons. And he crossed-over the Jabbok crossing. 23And he took them. And he crossed-them-over the brook. And he crossed-over what is to him.

 

24And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) remained alone. And a man wrestled with him unto the ascending of the sunrise. 25And he saw that he will-not-be-able to him. And he touched in the palm of his thigh. And the palm of He-Will-Heel’s (Jacob’s) thigh dislocated in his wrestling with him. 26And he said, “Send me! For the sunrise ascended!” And he said, “I will not send thee but-rather thou blessed me!” 27And he said unto him, “What is thy name?” And he said, “He-Will-Heel (Jacob)”. 28And he said, “Thy name shall no more be called ‘He-Will-Heel (Jacob)’, but-rather ‘He-Will-Prince-Mighty-[One] (Israel).’ For thou princed with Elohim and with men, and thou wast able.” 29And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) asked. And he said, “Tell, na, Thy Name.” And He said, “Why is this? Thou wilt ask to my name?” And He blessed him there. 30And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) called the name of the place Faces-Of-Mighty-[One]. “For I saw Elohim faces unto faces, and my being was rescued!”

 

31And the sun sun-rose to him just-as he crossed-over They-Turned-Mighty-[One]. And he is limping upon his thigh. 32Therefore the children of Israel will not eat the sinew of the tendon that is upon the palm of the thigh unto this day. For He touched in the palm of He-Will-Heel’s (Jacob’s) thigh in the sinew of the tendon.

 

Chapter 33

1And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) lifted up his eyes. And he saw. And, behold, Hairy came. And with him are four hundred man. And he divided the children upon Weary (Leah) and upon Ewe (Raquel) and upon two of the slavewomen. 2And he put the slavewomen and their children headward and Weary (Leah) and her children afterwards and Ewe (Raquel) and He-Will-Gather (Joseph) afterwards. 3And he crossed-over to their faces. And he prostrated landward seven strokes unto his nearing unto his brother. 4And Hairy ran to meet him. And he embraced him. And he fell upon his neck. And he kissed him. And they wept.

 

5And he lifted up his eyes. And he saw the women and the children. And said, “Who are these to thee?” And he said, “The children that Elohim favoured thy slave.” 6And the slavewomen neared there and their children. And they prostrated. 7And also Weary (Leah) neared and her children. And they prostrated. And He-Will-Gather (Joseph) neared after, and Ewe (Raquel), and they prostrated. 8And he said, “Who is to thee? All this camp that I encountered?” And he said, “To find favour in the eyes of my lord.” 9And Hairy (Esau) said, “I have much, my brother. He will be to thee what is to thee.” 10And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) said, “Don’t, na, if, na, I found favour in thine eyes! And thou shalt take my rest from my hand. For therefore I saw thy faces as seeing faces of Elohim. And thou desired me. 11Take, na, my blessing that is brought to thee. For Elohim favoured me, and for there is to me all.” And he urged him. And he took.

 

12And he said, “We shall journey. And we have walked. And I have walked to straight-in-front-of thee.” 13And he said unto him, “My lord knows that the children are tender. And the flock and the herd ascend upon me. And they shall drive them one day. And they shall die—all the flock. 14My lord shall cross-over, na, to the faces of his slave. And I, I will conduct-myself for gentleness to the foot of the errand that is to my faces and to the foot of the children until that I will come unto my lord Goatward.” 15And Hairy (Esau) said, “I will post, na, with thee from the people that is with me.” And he said, “Why this? I will find favour in the eyes of my lord!”

 

16And Hairy (Esau) returned to his way in that day, Goatward. 17And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) journeyed Camouflagesward. And he built to him a house. And he made camouflages to his cattle. Therefore he called the name of the place Camouflages.  18And He-Will-Heel (Jacob) came to Peace, a city of Shoulder that is in the land of Merchant in his coming from Ransom-Of-I-Will-Elevate. And he camped to the faces of the city. 19And he acquired a portion of the field that he spread his tent there from the hand of the children of Ass father of Shoulder via a hundred certified. 20And he positioned an altar there. And he called to him Mighty-[One] Gods of Israel.

 

I. Jacob and Laban at Peace (Genesis 31:55)

Laban rose early in the morning. He kissed his sons and his daughters. He also blessed them. He then took his journey, going back to his place.

 

Questions

1. Why did Laban get up so early? He had a long way to travel. He needed to take advantage of all the light he could.

 

2. Who were his sons? They were his grandsons! Grandsons, great grandsons, etc. are considered sons in the Bible! As far as I am aware, all of Laban’s direct sons stayed with Laban; he did not need to kiss them.

 

3. Why did his daughters accept being kissed by him when he had been so mean to them? They still loved their papa. They would not have been rude to him; that would have been wrong.

 

4. How did Laban bless his sons and daughters? The Bible doesn’t tell. His blessings would have been according to his faith, and he didn’t have the same faith as Jacob. When Saints blessed their children in the Bible, when the blessings were recorded, the blessings were prophetic and from the Spirit of Yehovah. They were therefore true blessings. I don’t know the source of Laban’s blessings.

 

5. Was Laban better able to think, now? Yes, he was. Jacob had stolen his mind, but Laban seemed much more at peace since they made the vow.

 

II. Jacob and the Camp of Elohim (Genesis 32:1-2)

Jacob also walked, continuing on his journey. Messengers of Elohim encountered him. Jacob described what he saw: “This is the camp of Elohim!” He named the place Two-Camps.

 

Questions

1. Who were these messengers? They were angels, though other messengers can easily be humans. Readers have to determine whether they are angels (which means messengers) or humans.

 

2. What does “encountered into” mean? This means that they came right up to Jacob in a way that Jacob would not have been able to go around them! Also, this implies (to me) that Jacob had stopped, and the angels had come right into his camp. He declared it to be the camp of Elohim.

 

3. How did Jacob know that this was the camp of Elohim? Elohim means Gods, and refers to the One Who created all things. Elohim is over the angels. If there were many angels there, it must be the place where Elohim, the Commander, is camped!

 

4. Why did Jacob call the name of that place Two-Camps instead of Camp Elohim? Jacob’s camp was there, and Elohim’s camp was also there!

 

5. Why was the camp of Elohim there, and did the angels have anything to say to Jacob? I propose that the camp was there to cause Jacob to know that an entire army of Elohim was ready for any trouble!

 

I cannot see where they said anything to Jacob. Elohim desired for Jacob to see them; that was enough for now.

 

6. Was Jacob nervous, seeing this camp of angels? Would you be nervous? I don’t get the impression that Jacob was nervous at this time. He had been through too many difficulties to be nervous over this. He feared Elohim; that is always right! Yet, that doesn’t mean that he was nervous. Avraham had feared Yehovah, and Avraham questioned Him about His justice!

 

You will need to answer whether you would be nervous if you were in a camp, and you saw what you knew were angels coming toward you.

 

III. Jacob Begins to Seek Esau’s Favour (verses 3-5)

Jacob sent his own messengers in front of him to go to Esau. Jacob commanded them to say, “Thus ye shall say to my lord, to Esau, ‘So said thy slave Jacob, “I sojourned with Laban, and I ‘afterwarded’ (stayed after) unto now. And an ox is to me and an ass, a flock and a slave and a woman-slave. And I sent her to tell to my lord to find favour in thine eyes.”’”

 

Questions

1. Why did Jacob send messengers to Esau? Jacob was very nervous about meeting with his brother! The last time Jacob and Esau had been together was when Esau had determined to murder Jacob! Sending messengers might give Jacob an idea of whether there would be trouble or not.

 

2. Where is the land of He-Goat, the field of Red? This is located in Seir (which is He-Goat), in the field of Edom (which means Red). See if you can find it on the map.

 

 

The print is very faint at the bottom of the map. Below (EDOM) you will see Mt. Seir. (This map is from the ACCESS Foundation, Zaine Ridling, Ph.D., Editor.)

 

3. Why did Jacob call his brother, “my lord”? Jacob was expressing humility and the willingness to serve his brother. He was also acknowledging that Esau was the older brother!

 

4. Why did Jacob call himself, “thy slave”? Jacob was very willing to serve his brother. He did not desire to have war with him.

 

5. What does “I afterwarded” mean (since this is not proper English)? Jacob stayed (after the time that he agreed to slave for the two women, Raquel and Leah). That is why he hadn’t returned until now, and he desired Esau to know that.

 

6. Did Jacob have just one ox, one ass, one male slave and one female slave? Why did he word it this way? Jacob had much, much more than this. I propose that he worded it this way because he refused to brag. He was just describing the different living possessions that he had acquired.

 

7. Who is her in, “I sent her to tell to my lord”? I had to think carefully about this. The word for messenger is malakh in Hebrew, and the word for errand, which is what a messenger does, is malakhah, which is feminine. Right now, I suspect that it refers to the errand that the messengers were sent to do.

 

8. Explain the expression, “find favour in the eyes” of someone: If a person favours another person, this will show in the person’s eyes. The person will see the other person in a favorable light. Children can often tell if certain adults favour them by the way their eyes look at the children.

 

9. How would sending the messengers on this errand to tell Esau make it so that Esau would favour Jacob instead of hating him? I propose that Jacob hoped that Esau would see the messengers, and would see them in a fond and good light, preparing Esau to meet with Jacob. Jacob hoped that Esau would be willing to see him without being angry.

 

IV. Here He Comes! (verses 6-7)

The messengers returned and told Jacob, “We came unto thy brother, unto Esau. And also he walked to meet thee. And four hundred man are with him!” This terrified Jacob. It put Jacob into tribulation—that is, into a continuous state of fear from which he could not escape.

 

Questions

1. What did Jacob think Esau might do? Jacob thought he was coming to attack him over the birthright.

 

2. Why did Esau have four hundred men with him? Esau was on the move with much cattle, sheep and goats! His men traveled with him.

 

3. What does tribulation mean? The Hebrew word translated this way means to be in a squeeze—a tight spot with very few or no good ways of escape, and with enemies who are pursuing to do great harm or to kill. It describes a very frustrating and almost defenseless situation that lasts for a long time.

 

4. Why was Jacob so afraid when Elohim had appeared to him? Jacob had heard no promises from Elohim that indicated that innocent folks would not be killed. Jacob did not assume anything about what Elohim would or would not do. All Saints in the Bible refused to assume what God would do.

 

V. Minimizing the Losses (verses 7-8)

Jacob had a strategy. He divided the camp into two camps. He figured, “If Esau will come unto the one camp and he will smite him, and the remaining camp will be for an escape.”

 

Questions

1. Why would Jacob think that Esau would attack and kill one camp, if not both? Jacob only remembered the great anger of Esau. He knew that some who become set on doing murder will increase in their bitterness over time.

 

VI. Jacob’s Request (verses 9-12)

After Jacob set the plan in motion, he spoke to Yehovah. He started by identifying the Gods to whom he spoke: “Gods of my father Avraham.” He then identified Him as “Gods of my father Isaac.” Next, “Yehovah Who said unto me, ‘Return to thy land and to thy childhood,’ and ‘I have good-done with thee.’”

 

He next contrasted his own position with all the graces and all the Truth that Yehovah did with His slave, with Jacob: “I ‘smalled’ from all the graces and from all the Truth that Thou did with Thy slave.” Jacob recounted how he had originally crossed the Jordan River with just his staff, and how he was now two full camps.

 

He asked Yehovah to deliver him from the hand of his brother Esau. Jacob was fearing Esau, knowing that he might come and smite him, “mother upon children.”

 

Jacob reminded Yehovah, “Thou, Thou hast said, ‘Good-doing, I will good-do with thee,’ and, ‘I will put thy seed as sand of the sea that he will not scroll from multiplication.’”

 

Questions

1. Why did Jacob use the following three identifiers for Yehovah?

  • Gods of my father Avraham
  • Gods of my father Isaac
  • Yehovah Who said return and I have ‘good-done’ with thee

Jacob recognized the importance of the Covenant that Yehovah made with Avraham, that He also confirmed with Isaac. Jacob reminded Yehovah that He had commanded Jacob to return to his land and to his childhood, and that Yehovah had promised to do good with Jacob. Jacob didn’t presume that there would be no violence. The promises of Yehovah did not exclude violence from happening.

 

Many truly believe that they will be kept safe from harm if they have God on their side and if they are born of God. The Bible shows that these things are not guaranteed. Saints often suffered because they did right! Jacob did not assume anything.

 

Since Yehovah promised that He will do Jacob good, Jacob used this to request that Yehovah will deliver him from the potentially violent hand of his brother.

 

2. What does “I smalled from” mean? This means that Jacob became smaller and smaller, contrasted with what he then mentioned.

 

3. What does grace mean in the Bible? It is a fervent (that is, very strong), ardent (that is, burning, showing much power) zeal (something about which a person or God truly cares) by which one is actuated (motivated to take action—for or against another). Again, it is a very strong and very powerful zeal that drives a person or God to take action—either against someone else or for someone else.

 

Grace is the very reason why there is Salvation from sin and everlasting life, and it is also the very reson why there is an everlasting Lake of Fire and burning Sulfur! Every person will experience the Grace of God, and most will experience it in the most terrible way! Those who fear Him and believe His words to the point of doing right before Him will experience it in the best way.

 

4. What are all the graces that Jacob mentioned? They are all those things that Yehovah did from the time that Jacob left home to the present, including Yehovah’s enabling Jacob to become independent of Laban by giving Jacob the ability to breed sheep and goats at a very high rate, and taking care of Jacob through all the great difficulties. Yehovah appeared to Jacob, and He guided him. All these were graces of Yehovah—where Yehovah showed His zeal for Jacob.

 

5. What is truth in the Bible? It is what is absolute (unchanging, always certain, never wrong, never incorrect, sure) from Yehovah’s perspective.

 

Truth always is connected with a god. Without a god, there is no truth. Every god that humans recognize has its own truth. In the same manner, Yehovah, the only true and living God, has His Truth. His Truth never changes. It doesn’t change with new inventions; it doesn’t change with different cultures. It doesn’t change under any circumstances.

 

If (as some suppose) there is no god, there is also no truth. Anyone who might say, “Well, that is truth!” could easily have someone else say, “No, that isn’t truth.” There would only be opinions.

 

Messiah Yeshua stated,

 

John 14:6 “I am the way, the Truth and the life.”

 

He declared Himself to be the Truth, so that anything else that is Truth in this universe must either be Him or come from Him. Thus, if He says something, it is also the Truth.

 

6. What Truth did Elohim do with his slave, Jacob? Elohim extended the Covenant of Avraham and Isaac to Jacob, a Covenant that included their becoming a great race. Jacob had many children, and Elohim protected them and gave their family what they needed to succeed in the sheep, goat, camel and ass business! Yehovah kept His word to Avraham. That is Truth.

 

7. What does “I crossed-over this Jordan via my staff” mean and indicate? That is all Jacob had for transportation when he crossed the Jordan the first time.

 

8. What does na mean in Hebrew? This is a part of speech called a particle—a word that has only one form. It is a softener in Hebrew. A person can say something that sounds very demanding. If the word na is included, it removes the demands from the statement, indicating that it is being said without demands, without anger, without anything that would be considered rude or hard.

 

9. Why did Jacob need to be delivered from the hand of his brother? Was his brother holding him using his hand? The hand of anyone or anything is its power and authority. Jacob feared the power of his brother to do damage. It was as if Jacob were a prisoner of his brother, since that is what the mind does. If I fear anyone, I am in that person’s hand. Jacob asked Elohim to deliver him from the hand of his brother so that both the power to do harm and the fear would both go away.

 

10. Why did Jacob say both “my brother” and “Esau,” since both are the same? The word brother is used for any relative in the Bible. Jacob desired to be specific.

 

11. Was Jacob’s fearing Esau wrong or sin? No, it wasn’t. Yehovah has given humans the ability to fear to preserve them from many dangers. Fear is not sin.

 

Some types of fear will lead folks to sin! If a person fears not being accepted by a group, and if that group sins, that person will do what is necessary to fit into the group, and will therefore sin. If the fear of Yehovah is the person’s greatest fear, that person will not sin in order to fit into a group that promotes sin.

 

12. Was Jacob concerned that his own mother might be killed? No. The expression, “mother upon children,” means that mothers and their children will both be targets. If Esau is angry enough, he will kill both mothers and their children.

 

13. Jacob said, “I am fearing him lest he will come and will smite me, mother upon children.” Jacob used me, then mother upon children. What connection was Jacob making between himself and the mothers and children? As far as Jacob was concerned, to smite (hit, usually to kill) any of the mothers and their children in Jacob’s camps was to smite Jacob. Jacob did not disconnect himself from those in his camp.

 

14. What does “Good-doing, I will good-do with thee” mean? This means, “while doing good, I will do good with thee.” This promise of Elohim guarantees that He will benefit Jacob, and will use Jacob for benefit (those are not the same).

 

15. Can the number of offspring equal the number of grains of the sand of the sea? Explain. The number of grains of sand on the sea exceeds the number of humans that the planet could hold. Many more than trillions of grains of sand are on the sea.

 

16. If the answer to the last question is true, what does “I will put thy seed as sand of the sea that he will not scroll from multiplication” mean? This means that Elohim will multiply Jacob’s offspring so much, that counting (taking a census of) the population won’t be possible, since new children will be born before the numbers have been tallied. The word scroll means to count, to record, to take a record of. Taking a record of a population that increases while the record is being written means that the record will be inaccurate (wrong). That is a big population!

 

VII. Jacob’s Plan (verses 13-21)

Jacob lodged (found a place to stay) there in that night. Instead of sleeping, he took valuables from all that he had acquired to give to his brother. These items together were called a rest because Jacob determined to rest them before his brother as a gift.

 

This rest included the following:

  • 200 she-goats
  • 20 animals that butt
  • 200 ewes
  • 20 rams
  • 30 lactating camels and their babies
  • 40 cows
  • 10 bulls
  • 20 she-asses
  • 10 he-asses

Jacob gave this rest into the hand of his slaves, each flock separated from the other flock.

 

He next instructed his slaves: “Cross-ye-over to my faces (in front of me).” He then said, “And ye shall put a breather (a space) between flock and between flock.”

 

Jacob now spoke to the head of the slaves: “For Esau my brother will meet thee. And he will ask thee to say, ‘To whom art thou? (To whom do you belong?)’ and ‘Where wilt thou walk? (Where are you going?)’ and ‘To whom are these to thy faces? (To whom do these that are in front of you belong)?’ And thou shalt say, ‘To thy slave—to Jacob. He is a rest sent to my lord—to Esau. And behold, he is also after (behind) us.’”

 

Jacob gave the same commands to the head of the second flock and the third, and to all to say the same things. They were also to include this information: “Behold, thy slave Jacob is after (behind) us.”

 

Jacob also said, “I will cover her—his faces—via the rest walking to my faces (going in front of me). And afterward I will see his faces. Perhaps he will carry my faces.”

 

The valuable animals that made up Jacob’s rest crossed over in front of Jacob. Jacob remained that night in the camp, lodging there.

 

Questions

1. What does lodge mean? It means to take a room, or in the case of a tent, to make camp and set up the tent. It doesn’t have to mean to sleep, since folks often use lodges for places to take their meals and to get together with friends.

 

2. What is a rest? It is like a gift (because it is given), but it is placed in front of another to receive it, and thus it is rested in front of another. This will have everything to do with other texts that speak of entering into Yehovah’s rest.

 

3. What is the comer into his hand? This refers to the items and persons that came into Jacob’s hand—the items and persons that Jacob acquired (either by working for them or being given to him).

 

4. What are ‘butt-ers’? They are animals that butt—that is, they ram other animals. (They often aim for the rear ends of humans, if they have a chance! That may explain the word butt referring to the rear ends!) This is an unusual word for he-goats.

 

5. What is a ewe? That is a female sheep.

 

6. What kind of animal is this ram? It is a male sheep.

 

7. What is a lactating camel? That is a female camel that is giving milk to a baby or young camel. Lactation in humans is giving breast milk, and is therefore called breastfeeding when a baby or young child obtains that milk.

 

8. Are lactating camels worth more than camels that are not lactating? They are worth more when they are with young, because one is obtaining two animals!

 

9. Who are these children? They are the young camels!

 

10. Why did Jacob always give more female animals than male animals? Female animals are always worth more than males! Males compete, and they don’t bear young. Males get into trouble more than females. Thus, they are considered dinner more than of other uses. Only breeding males with superior characteristics are considered more valuable.

 

11. Why did Jacob desire his slaves to cross over to his faces (in front of him, where he could see them)? Jacob desired to watch them go, to see if he could tell how they were proceeding as they went. I do not know if Jacob could see all the way to Esau, or not. If the slaves came running back, Jacob would know that Esau had attacked.

 

12. Why did Jacob desire a breather (a spacer) between each flock? If Esau attacked the first group, that would give the second group time to flee, and the two camps also time to split up and flee.

 

13. What does “To whom art thou” mean? It means, To whom do you belong, and it implies that Esau will know that they belong to someone else. I am not certain of the traditions and cultures regarding dress; I am guessing that slaves wore differently colored and marked clothes than their masters. If I am right on this, Esau would be able to tell that these are slaves. Yet, every person also belonged to his family just as you belong to your family or caretakers. Everyone belongs to someone, even if the person doesn’t know it. The best is to belong to Yehovah/Yeshua.

 

14. Why would Esau ask, “Where wilt thou walk” instead of, “Where wilt thou go”? In Hebrew, to walk is to go! The English word go has too many meanings. It can mean exit, use the restroom, travel, etc. Hebrew is far more specific. Walking is not the same as exiting or traveling.

 

Humans did much, much more walking in those days than they do at this time. They often covered many miles in a week’s time as part of their regular routines. They could ride animals, but walking was an important part of being with others and learning what others knew.

 

15. Identify these in, “To whom are these to thy faces”: They are the animals mentioned above.

 

16. Why did Jacob desire his slaves to answer, “To thy slave—to Jacob”? Jacob desired that Esau would know that Jacob was willing to serve his brother.

 

17. Why did Jacob tell each group to include, “And behold, he is also after us”? I am thinking that Jacob desired his brother to wear out any anger he had by being given these animals before seeing Jacob.

 

18. Explain Jacob’s thinking: “I will cover her—his faces—via the rest walking to my faces.” Jacob desired to cover her—Esau’s nose (I propose, since the nose is where anger is expressed), and also Esau’s faces so that Esau won’t see Jacob, but will see the gifts Jacob is giving to him.

 

19. What does “Perhaps he will carry my faces” mean? To carry is to forgive in Hebrew, if a relationship has been strained. What does carrying have to do with forgiving? If I offend you, you must carry my offense. (That will often show up as hurt feelings.) Yet, since I offended you, I must carry the wrong I have done. It is on my record. Suppose, now, that I realized I did you wrong, and I offended you. Suppose I come to you and confess (admit) what I did, and that it was wrong. If I then ask you to forgive me, I am asking you to carry the offense that I did and the wrong that I did against you so that our relationship can be returned to a state of peace. If you agree to do this, you are agreeing to voluntarily carry my offense against you and the wrong that I did, so that we can have a relationship that is brought back to peace.

 

Jacob understood this. He knew that he had offended his brother, though Jacob had done no wrong. He still desired to have a relationship of peace. Jacob thought about the rest that he sent his brother; perhaps it would be enough so that Esau would carry Jacob’s faces—either forgive his faces, or lift Jacob’s faces so that they could face each other in peace.

 

20. Why did Jacob send the rest in the evening? This way, Esau could sleep on the gift that Jacob had given.

 

21. Why didn’t Jacob also go see his brother that night? If there would be any violence, Jacob didn’t desire to deal with it at night. There were no streets with street lights! Violence at night with no lights is especially frightening. Jacob could see what was occurring during the day.

 

 

VIII. The Night Crossing (verses 22-23)

I don’t know whether Jacob slept that night or not. He arose while it was still night. He took his two women and his two womenslaves and his eleven sons.

 

He crossed over the Jabbok crossing. He brought them over the brook. He then caused all his possessions (“what is to him”) to cross over the brook.

 

Questions

1. Why did Jacob travel at night? Jacob looked for some strategic place where all could flee if Esau attacked. If the attack from Esau came in the morning, Jacob’s moving the camps might give those camps more time to flee.

 

2. Where is the Jabbok crossing?

 

 

If you find the word Mahanaim in the middle of the above map, above this word is a rather unclear blue writing that says, Jabbok R. It is a river that goes east (to the right) from the Jordan River. (This map is from the ACCESS Foundation, Zaine Ridling, Ph.D., Editor.)

 

3. Explain a little about the Jabbok stream. According to Easton in Easton’s Revised Bible Dictionary,

 

[Jabbok means,] a pouring out, or a wrestling, one of the streams on the east of Jordan, into which it falls about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, or about 45 miles below the Sea of Galilee. It rises on the eastern side of the mountains of Gilead, and runs a course of about 65 miles in a wild and deep ravine. It was the boundary between the territory of the Ammonites and that of Og, king of Bashan [see Joshua 12:1-5 and Numbers 21:24], also between the tribe of Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh [see Numbers 21:24 and Deuteronomy 3:16]. In its course westward across the plains it passes more than once underground. “The scenery along its banks is probably the most picturesque in Palestine; and the ruins of town and village and fortress which stud the surrounding mountain-side render the country as interesting as it is beautiful.” This river is now called the Zerka, or Blue River.

 

4. Why did Jacob take all his possessions with him? Jacob had no reason to leave anything or anyone behind. Yehovah hadn’t promised Jacob’s safety, so Jacob was ready to flee, if necessary, with all his items.

 

IX. The Great Fight (verses 24-30)

Jacob went somewhere alone after this crossing. An unidentified man came to Jacob in the dark. The two wrestled. It was an unfriendly match that lasted hours.

 

The sun began to rise. The text then says, “And he saw that he will-not-be-able to him.” It does not say who he or him is! The unidentified man touched in the palm of Jacob’s thigh, and the palm of his thigh dislocated while Jacob wrestled with the man.

 

The man said, “Send me! For the sunrise ascended!” Jacob responded, “I will not send thee but rather thou blessed me!” The man asked Jacob, “What is thy name?” Jacob gave his name: “He Will Heel.” The man said, “Thy name shall no more be called ‘He-Will-Heel (Jacob)’, but-rather ‘He-Will-Prince-Mighty-[One] (Israel)’. For thou princed with Elohim and with men, and thou wast able.”

 

Jacob then asked, saying, “Tell, na, thy name.” The man responded, “Why is this? Thou wilt ask to my name?” The man then blessed Jacob right there!

 

Jacob named the place ‘Faces Of Mighty One,’ saying, “For I saw Elohim faces unto faces, and my being was rescued!”

 

Questions

1. Why did Jacob remain alone? He had a lot to consider. He had much on his mind.

 

2. Why didn’t he tell his wives about what was troubling him? I don’t know if they knew about what had occurred between his brother and him. If he had told them, they might have become fearful. His telling them would only have put fear into them without giving them any response in the matter. Instead, he carried this alone.

 

3. Who was this man??? If you read all the verses, you will find the following things about him:

 

  • He is able to dislocate a thigh with a single touch
  • He is able to rename Jacob to Israel
  • Jacob insists on being blessed by him after he dislocates Jacob’s thigh
  • He prophesies
  • Jacob identifies him as Elohim

Who has all these characteristics at one time, and appears as a man to wrestle with another man, yet can be put into a wrestling hold by a mortal like Jacob? This is Messiah Yeshua!

 

The following is another text that speaks of this event:

 

Hosea 12:3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed. He wept, and made supplication unto him. He found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us—5Even Yehovah God of hosts. Yehovah is his memorial.

 

I propose that the part that connects is this: “By his strength he had power with God. Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed.”

 

The man is called God (Elohim) and the angel (the messenger).

 

4. What does “he will not be able to him” mean? This sounds like a piece of a sentence, but it isn’t in Hebrew. To be able in any area of life is to succeed, or, in battle, it is to overcome, be victorious. “He will not overcome to him.” The word to shows the direction. We would say, “He will not overcome against him,” or just, “He will not overcome him.” Hebrew often places the preposition to where we would not use it.

 

5. Who is he and who is him in “he will not be able to him”? He is Elohim! Him is Jacob. I can tell, because the text states, “And a man wrestled…” It continues, “He saw…” followed by “He touched…” Thus, I concluded that the man is he in these statements.

 

6. Why was Elohim not able to… well, overcome Jacob, or do whatever the text doesn’t mention after the word able? This is not a case of the lack of power. Elohim always succeeds in whatever He desires to do. Elohim appeared as a man, in this case. He wrestled as a man. Jacob had twenty years of experiences, and Jacob was a very muscular man, very tough and strong. Even wrestling all night didn’t wear Jacob out, and the sun began to arise. Thus, Elohim, appearing as a mortal (a person who is capable of dying, and therefore is capable of tiring out), could not outwrestle Jacob before the sun arose.

 

7. Why was this so important, that it had to put into the Bible? This event teaches many things about Jacob and about Elohim, including the following:

  • Jacob was very tough, with great physical endurance and great wrestling moves
  • Jacob was willing to physically fight (wrestling is a form of fighting, but avoiding using fists and swords that can kill)
  • Jacob was very willing to protect members of his camps (that is why he wrestled—the man posed a threat)
  • Jacob was willing to grasp an adversary who won the wrestling match using tactics that were not part of wrestling
  • Jacob was willing to refuse to let go of a very dangerous adversary until that adversary blessed him even though the adversary could have paralyzed him
  • Jacob’s fear of meeting his brother and Jacob’s needing every bit of strength that he had in case his brother sought to kill him were less than Jacob’s willingness to deal with an opponent who attacked
  • Jacob never accused this opponent of ‘dirty wrestling’ or of cheating when this opponent used special forces to dislocate his thigh
  • Elohim was willing and capable of appearing as a man
  • Elohim was willing to enter into a physical wrestling match with a man
  • Elohim did not employ miraculous means of winning until the very end, when it was time to stop and to bless
  • Elohim did not give His Name when asked if He knew that the other person already knew His Name. (Another character in the Bible asked the same question of the same Being, and He told His Name. Read about this in Judges 13.
  • Elohim also prophesies
  • Elohim changes the names of some if their new names are significant to what they will to or be
  • Elohim can wrestle with a person in a life-and-death wrestling match, then bless the person
  • Elohim can show up unidentified
  • Elohim can show up in the dark without any lights radiating from His body
  • Elohim can wear a person down to no strength right when the person needs all the strength the person can possibly use

Readers would not have figured out some of these things, had this text not been put in the Bible.

 

8. Why did Elohim put Jacob’s thigh out of joint? Jacob now could not run, and he could not ride an animal. He was both very tired and incapable of escape. Elohim rendered him powerless to even fight off a child.

 

9. Who said, “Send me”? Elohim said this!

 

10. Why did He say this, instead of just leaving? Just leaving in the cultures of that area of the world would be rude, and might show that the one who left was a criminal. Criminals go secretly; guests, friends and relatives wait to be sent.

 

When Elohim said, “Send me,” He was behaving as Jacob’s guest. Jacob’s refusal to send Him until He blessed him was Jacob’s right as a host.

 

11. Why did Elohim desire to leave before the sun rose any further? I propose that Elohim did not desire to be seen by others in the camp. He had come for Jacob. Others in the camp would have asked Questions that Jacob did not need to answer.

 

12. Why did Jacob desire to be blessed by a man who just caused him great pain, and made him defenseless? Jacob now knew who this man was: he knew He was Elohim. He desired a blessing from Elohim. Jacob wasn’t anywhere as concerned over the palm of his thigh as he was over receiving a blessing from Elohim.

 

13. What is the palm of the thigh? That is the part of the thigh that is shaped like the palm of the hand. It is the part that goes around the ball of the leg. (See the pictures from Wikipedia.org below.)

 

 

14. Did all stop calling Jacob by the name ‘Jacob,’ and start using ‘Israel’ after this, since Elohim said, “Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but-rather Israel”? Elohim Himself continued to use the name Jacob in the Bible, and the name will be used into the End Times. This is a prophetic promise that will occur in the Millennium (during the 1,000 years that Messiah Yeshua will be King over all kings and Lord over all lords). Until then, both Israel and Jacob will be in use.

 

15. Was something wrong with the name Jacob? No! The name was very good. Jacob, as a baby being born, took hold of his brother’s heel. Thus, he was behind his brother in birth, pulling on his heel. This was prophetic. He will come out second behind his brother, and will pull his brother’s heel just as his brother is about to get ahead.

 

Yet, this isn’t the way the story will end. The new name tells that part of the story.

 

16. What does the name Israel tell? Since it means, “He will prince Mighty One,” this tells that Jacob, as Israel, will coronate (crown) Prince Mighty One—Prince Mighty One of Israel, Prince Elohim! Thus, Israel will be the group that will crown Messiah Yeshua as King over all and Lord over all.

 

17. What does “thou princed with Elohim and with men, and thou wast able” mean? There is no verb to prince in English. If there were, it would mean to behave as a prince and to coronate others as princes. Jacob behaved as a prince with Elohim (Who is the King), and he also acted as a prince among the races. He also set up others in other races as princes. Yet, he hasn’t done any of these things yet. They will occur in the future!

 

Being able again means that he had the power (ability) and authority (the rank) to succeed and to overcome, and he used that power and authority. This is again prophetic; it will occur in the future. Israel isn’t in a very good position at this present time.

 

18. Why did Jacob ask this man’s name? Jacob knewwho he was; he wanted to confirm the identity of this man. He didn’t know who he was until the man put his thigh out of joint. He instantly knew who he was at that point. Now, Jacob asked for identification to confirm his identity, and he refused to confirm it. I can tell that Jacob knew who he was because Jacob insisted on a blessing before sending him.

 

19. What was the man’s name? I will show another text that is very similar to this one, with the same man making an appearance and with the same question being asked:

 

Judges 13:17 And Manoah said unto the angel of Yehovah, “What is thy name, that we will do thee honour when thy sayings come to pass?” 18And the angel of Yehovah said unto him, “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is Pele?”

 

His Name is Pele, meaning miracle, but in a different way—as His being the source of miracles and His being the great miracle of Yehovah. He is the Messiah, Messiah Yeshua, Whose very birth is a miracle.  

 

20. Was Jacob still clinging to him while He blessed him? Jacob would not let go until He blessed him.

 

21. Did Jacob send him after He blessed him? Jacob did!

 

22. What did Jacob name the place, why did he name the place, and why is the name different from what Jacob said? Jacob named the place Faces-Of-Mighty-[One], referring to the faces of the One Who wrestled with him. He named the place because of the significant event that happened in that place. This was a common practice. Jacob said, “For I saw Elohim faces unto faces, and my being was rescued!” The name of the place mentions Mighty-One; yet Jacob identified Him as Elohim. Thus, we, as readers, can know that Elohim and Mighty One are the same. Jacob named the place the way he did because Jacob was prophesying. When the Israelis come to realize that the Mighty One of Israel is Elohim, then and only then will they be able to come to faith in the Messiah of Israel.

 

23. Why did Jacob say, “and my being was rescued”? Who did the rescuing, and from whom was Jacob rescued? This text is also prophetic! Jacob will be rescued from the very Being who will wrestle with him (that is, with the People of Israel) during the Tribulation.

 

X. The New Tradition (verses 31-32)

Jacob crossed Penuel, limping on his thigh. From that time on, the Israelis (who believed the text and who understood it) refused to eat the sinew of the tendon that is upon the palm of the thigh. Elohim had touched in the palm of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the tendon.

 

Questions

1. Why don’t the Israelis (who follow this tradition) eat the sinew of the tendon that is upon the palm of the thigh? What animals are involved in this? The animals involved are the clean land animals (cows, bulls, sheep, goats, deer, caribou, reindeer, etc.). I don’t expect that this includes chickens and turkeys, etc.

 

They don’t eat this piece of meat in order to recall what this man, Elohim, did to Jacob just before He blessed him!

 

2. Did this hurt very much? It did! It continued to hurt for a long time!

 

3. Why did Elohim hurt Jacob? Had Jacob done wrong? Jacob hadn’t done anything wrong. Elohim hurt Jacob

  • in order to make him totally defenseless before his brother whom he feared
  • in order to do a show-and-tell for what will happen to Jacob (Israel) during the Tribulation
  • in order to rescue him from his fears without using his own power
  • in order for Jacob to determine to be the first to approach his brother as his camps began to move.

Yehovah sometimes inflicts pain on true prophets so that others who are watching Yehovah’s show-and-tell of what will occur understand how real what they are seeing and hearing from the prophet really is. This is done to save lives. Yehovah rewards such prophets very well. Jacob never complained.

 

XI. Jacob Meets with Esau (Chapter 33:1-4)

Jacob lifted his eyes. He then saw Esau coming with four hundred men. He divided the children among the four women, placing the slavewomen and their children in front, then Leah, then Raquel with Joseph.

 

Jacob then crossed over in front of the groups.

 

Before he came to Esau, he prostrated in front of him seven times between his approaches.

 

In the meantime, Esau ran to meet Jacob. Esau embraced him, fell upon his neck, and kissed him. Both of them wept.

 

Questions

1. If Jacob lifted his eyes, where were they focused before lifting them? They were focused on the ground. The land is quite uneven, and tripping while walking is a regular concern. A person must watch for the next step to avoid such hazards.

 

2. How could he recognize Esau after all this time, and at such a distance? Jacob had had much practice seeing both friends and animal attackers during his twenty years of shepherding. A person can become very good at identifying others at a distance by this means.

 

3. Why does my translation say, “four hundred man instead of saying, “four hundred men”? Biblical Hebrew switches to the singular form when the number becomes large.

 

4. Why did Jacob divide the children according to their own mothers? If Esau attacked, and if any of the women and children survived, they needed to be grouped with mothers having their own children.

 

5. Why did Jacob put the slavewomen and their children first? If Esau was determined to take prisoners and slaves for himself, the women were already slaves; they would need the children to go with them. If Esau commanded a slaughter, Jacob had worked for Raquel (and secondly for Leah); Jacob hoped that they at least might escape.

 

6. Why is Joseph (of all Jacob’s sons) the only one mentioned by name? This is again prophetic. Put “Ewe” with “He will gather,” and the text reads, “He will gather a ewe (a girl sheep).” That is exactly what will happen during the Tribulation! Yehovah will gather the most endangered parts of Israel: women with young children, bringing them to Mount Zion where they will be safe. Names in the Bible are often prophetic!

 

7. Why did Jacob then cross over in front of all the groups? He had determined to face Esau first before all, knowing that Esau’s murderous anger, if it still existed, was directed toward him. If Esau struck out against him, that might assuage (calm down) Esau’s anger, and thus spare others from harm. Jacob desired to save lives, not spare himself at the expense of others.

 

8. Why did Jacob prostrate (lie flat) before his brother, then come closer, then again prostrate before his brother, then come closer… seven times? He physically showed his brother that he was willing to serve his brother. He hoped that this would convince his brother that he was not claiming the firstborn status to lord it over his brother.

 

9. Why did Esau run to meet Jacob? Esau desired to see his brother! He loved him.

 

10. What does “he fell upon his neck” mean? This means that he both hugged him and put his neck on his brother’s neck in a most affectionate embrace!

 

11. Why did they both weep? Esau was so glad to see his brother. Jacob was so relieved that his brother didn’t still hate him, and he was glad to see his brother under these circumstances! They missed each other.

 

XII. Giving and Taking (verses 5-11)

Esau was interested in seeing his brother. He then lifted his eyes and saw the women and children. Esau asked, “Who are these to thee?” Jacob answered, “The children that Elohim favoured thy slave.”

 

The slavewomen and their children neared Esau, and prostrated. Then Leah and her children did the same thing. Finally, Joseph neared, along with Raquel. Esau was amazed. “Who is to thee? All this camp that I encountered?” Jacob’s answer was curious: “To find favour in the eyes of my lord.”

 

Esau expressed that he already had much, and what is to Jacob must be to Jacob (what Jacob owns Jacob needs to keep).

 

Jacob respectfully insisted that Esau take Jacob’s rest from his hand. Jacob compared seeing Esau to seeing the faces of Elohim, and that Esau desired Jacob. Jacob stated, “Take na my blessing that is brought to thee. For Elohim favoured me, and for there is to me all.” Jacob urged Esau, and Esau was finally willing.

 

Questions

1. Why was Esau amazed that Jacob had so many persons and animals? There is no way that anyone could have gained what Jacob gained in twenty years. A person might become very wealthy, but having twelve children, two wives, and all those animals—that just isn’t possible in that brief amount of time. Twenty years may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t!

 

2. What did Jacob mean by, “The children that Elohim favoured thy slave”? Jacob told Esau that Elohim had favoured Jacob, a slave of Esau, by giving him all those children!

 

3. Why did the different women and their children prostrate before Esau? They watched Jacob, and that was also part of their cultures. That was a demonstration of respect.

 

4. What question was Jacob answering when he said, “To find favour in the eyes of my lord”? He was answering the question, “Why did you give me these items?”

 

5. What did Jacob mean when he answered, “Don’t, na, if na I found favour in thine eyes”? He meant, Don’t refuse to accept the rest that I gave to you.

 

6. Was Jacob exaggerating when he said, “For therefore I saw thy faces as seeing faces of Elohim”? Jacob didn’t exaggerate. Such an exaggeration would have been a lie. Jacob feared Elohim (in a good way), and he feared his brother (as a potential threat). Jacob’s reaction to seeing both was the same: he feared.

 

7. What does “thou desired me” mean? This means that he (Esau) wanted to see and continue a relationship with Jacob. Had Esau been furious with Jacob at this time, he would not have desired to see him; he would have either desired to not see him, or to see him dead!

 

8. What does “for there is to me all” mean? All those items and persons that Esau saw are ‘to Jacob’ (are in his possession). Thus, Jacob could spare what he gave to his brother.

 

9. Why did Esau take the items from his brother? His brother urged him, and Esau saw that this was important to Jacob. Thus, Esau was willing, and Jacob was relieved.

 

XIII. The Logic of Fear (verses 12-15)

The text does not give the amount of time that Esau and Jacob spoke together. The next part of their conversation involved Esau telling Jacob, “We shall journey. And we have walked. And I have walked to straight-in-front-of thee.”

 

Jacob replied, “My lord knows that the children are tender [they are not used to traveling for distances]. And the flock and the herd ascend upon me. [Both the large cattle and the small, like sheep and goats, ascend upon/by Jacob at his command.]  And they [the cowboys] shall drive them one day. And they shall die—all the flock.”

 

Jacob’s idea was this: “My lord [Esau] shall cross-over, na, to the faces of [in front of] his slave. And I, I will conduct-myself for gentleness to the foot of the errand [to the foot of moving the flock] that is to my faces and to the foot of the children until that I will come unto my lord toward Seir.”

 

Esau then volunteered to post (assign to a task) some of Esau’s men with Jacob. Jacob’s reaction was quick: “Why is this?” Then he said, “I will find favour in the eyes of my lord!” That was akin to saying, “If you will be pleased to permit me to take care of this myself.

 

Questions

1. Why did Esau desire to walk straight in front of Jacob? Jacob didn’t know, and I don’t know. That made this offer seem suspicious.

 

2. Can one person determine or figure out the motives of another person? Unless Yehovah tells someone another person’s motives, no person can read the mind of another, and no person can know another person’s motives with certainty. Trying to figure out the motives of another is wise. Claiming to know what the motives of another person is wrong, and has caused much permanent damage to relationships in the history of the world. All will be judged by the works (actions) they did and by their words. Judging actions is right. Judging motives is always wrong. Even if a person tells you why he or she did something, that doesn’t mean that he or she gave you all the reasons, and it doesn’t mean that he or she was honest with you or with himself/herself. Stay away from judging motives.

 

3. Would the entire flock die if it were driven along with the cattle? Jacob knew sheep and goats. He knew that many could easily die if they were overdriven without sustenance.

 

4. When Jacob said, “My lord shall cross-over, na, to the faces of his slave,” wasn’t this the same as Esau’s proposal, “I have walked to straight-in-front-of thee”? It is different. Jacob will remain stationary (not moving), while Esau will walk. In Esau’s proposal, he would lead, and Jacob would follow.

 

5. What is “the foot of the errand”? If the head of the errand is its beginning, the foot will be its conclusion. Jacob will conduct himself and his camps in a gentle manner until the errand of transporting them to the new grazing grounds has been completed.

 

6. What does “the errand that is to my faces” mean? The errand is transporting Jacob’s camps. The errand that is to Jacob’s faces is that part of the errand that must be immediately attended; it is straight in front of Jacob.

 

7. Explain “I will conduct-myself for gentleness … to the foot of the children”: I propose that Jacob will be gentle with driving his camps right down to considering the foot of the children: down to the smallest and slowest-moving child.

 

8. Is “until that I will come” good English grammar (proper writing or speaking in English)? It isn’t. The word that doesn’t fit in English. It is present in the Hebrew text.

 

9. Why did Esau offer to post some of his men with Jacob’s camps? I am not certain, and I don’t know if Jacob knew the reason. This again seemed suspicious. This part of the world was very dangerous, however, and Esau’s offer may have been out of concern for the safety of Jacob’s camps.

 

Whatever the reason may be, Jacob declined (didn’t accept) the offer.

 

10. Why did Jacob add, “I will find favour in the eyes of my lord”? This could have been Jacob’s way of showing appreciation for Esau’s willingness to help Jacob with the guards. This willingness showed that Jacob obtained and found favour in the eyes of Esau.

 

XIV. The Departure and the Relief (verses 16-20)

Esau then returned to Seir, his home.

 

Jacob journeyed to Succot. He built an actual house. He constructed camouflages designed for cattle. That is why he called the place Camouflages.

 

Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shkhem in the land of Canaan when he completed his journey from Padan-Aram. He camped in front of the city.

 

He acquired a portion of the field upon which he spread his tent from the hand of the children of Hamor who is the father of Shkhem. The cost was one hundred certified.

 

Jacob positioned an altar there. He “called to him” (named him) Mighty-One, Gods of Israel.

 

Questions

1. Why did Esau go away from Jacob? They both had to find good grazing for their animals. Staying together could result in conflicts over the pasture.

 

2. Why did Jacob build a house for himself? Since the text doesn’t say, I can only guess: he desired to have a permanent structure for his wives and children, a place with more comfort that was not as susceptible to storms. Yet, he didn’t stay there! He traveled to the city of Shalem that is near Shechem; that is where he stayed. Thus, building this house may have been part of the camouflages that he set up for his cattle.

 

3. Explain “he made camouflages to his cattle”: The Hebrew word succot comes from the Hebrew root sokh that describes a covert—a hiding place. I found that this word describes camouflage—any form of an enclosure (or clothing) that gives the impression that it is no different from its surroundings.

 

I then thought about why Jacob might do this for his cattle. This area of the world was very wild, and potentially very violent. Cattle would be easily rustled, since cattle spread out to graze. Rounding up the cattle during the night in a place that looks like the rest of the surrounding area would be a way to protect the cattle from rustlers, making it difficult to find them at night. (There were no flashlights back then, and torches were not very bright—except to give away the positions of those holding them.) While a full moon and clear skies did light up the night, having the cattle camouflaged would deter rustlers from coming after them, since cowboys would also be lurking in the area. I propose that Jacob considered these things.

 

4. Why did he name the place Succot? He named it Succot (camouflages) because that is what he built there. Future generations might remember what he did. His men might later be located elsewhere, and he could send them to this location, since it had a name.

 

5. Why did Jacob decide to travel to Shalem (Peace)? I again can only guess unless I find a text that tells me. Guessing is not a very good idea in the Bible. Folks who started by guessing ended up teaching other folks who thought that those guesses were true. I don’t want you to do this. When I say that I am guessing, that is all I am doing. I do know that Jacob had reasons for what he did, and the reasons involved benefiting others as well as himself.

 

Jacob had these cowboys and shepherds, their wives, his own wives and children, and animals. His crew could make many things needed for life and living; yet, other items were not available without trading for them. Jacob did not have a source of iron for tools; miners in distant areas dug for iron, and others purified the iron for usage. Jacob needed to trade; having large herds and flocks was only useful if those animals could be traded for other items. His cowboys and shepherds needed other items and varieties of food (besides beef, mutton, etc.), and cities offered variation. I propose that Jacob set up tents near the city for just such purposes, and was able to sell cattle, sheep and goats for good prices, since the occupants desired these items.

 

Women needed items unavailable on the prairie that they could find in even small cities.

 

6. Why didn’t Jacob move into the city of Shalem, but instead only camped outside the city, facing it? Jacob did not desire to integrate with the inhabitants of the city. The city was wild, like a town in the wild west of the early United States. If he moved into the city, his family would soon integrate with the inhabitants, adopting their religions, morals and ethics. Jacob knew better, since he had to refuse Canaanite marriages with his own sons and daughter. Being near the city was fine; integrating was not fine.

 

While Jacob believed in segregation, it wasn’t the evil and violent type of segregation that the United States enforced. Jacob treated others of other races with great respect as having the very image of God. His own cowboys and shepherds may have included Canaanites that he acquired—I don’t know. The Canaanites as a whole were very evil, and were becoming more evil with time. Yet, Rahab and her family, in a text that occurs a long time from this text, were Canaanites, and were heroes benefiting Israel.

 

Jacob knew the dangers of integrating with a people whom Yehovah will eventually destroy.

 

7. Why did Jacob acquire a portion of the field? Jacob did not desire to be a trespasser. If he had title to the property, he wouldn’t be trespassing.

 

8. Explain “he acquired a portion of the field… vial a hundred certified”: Jacob paid one hundred of some form of currency, and the form was certified—it was proven to be right and true. Jacob had not cheated Hamor’s sons.

 

He did this to avoid Questions regarding the legitimacy (regarding whether it was the real thing) of the transaction (the sale and purchase) he made with Hamor’s sons.

 

9. Why did Jacob position an altar there? Whenever Jacob made any significant move to a new location or a special place, he always set up an altar, and he also named both the altar and the location. He then called sacrificed to Yehovah.

 

10. What is the significance of the expression, “Mighty One, Gods of Israel”? Jacob used the new name that Elohim had given to him: Israel. He recognized the man who had wrestled with him as Mighty One and as Gods (Elohim) of Israel. Jacob had been delivered from the hand of his brother.

 

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