The Book of Genesis

Chapter Thirty Three

Jacobís Reconciliation With Esau

Lesson Verse: Pr 16:7              


I.         Lesson Introduction


A.      After his all night encounter with the Lord in Gen. 32, Jacob walked with a limp. Each painful step for the rest of his life was continual reminder of his stubborn ways. Sin costs, as does rebelling against the Lord! This was no thorn in the flesh where grace would suffice, as in the life of Paul. This limp was inflicted on him because he would not humble his heart. He would carry the scares for the rest of his life Ė not all that bad!

B.       Jacob has no time to reflect on the past nightís events, nor of contemplating on his new name. Just as soon as the sun was up, the Lord was gone, and lifting up his eyes, he beheld his brother coming towards him with 400 men.

C.       This chapter, while serving as a prelude to the events that transpire in chapter 34, also reveal the deceptive natures residing in the heart Jacob. However, by looking at Jacob, we look at self.

D.      Points To Ponder:


1.        Jacobís name was changed to Israel, Gen. 32. Jacob means supplanter or trickster. Israel mean God commands or Godís prince, leader, or fighter. Upon his meeting with Esau, should not the actions of Israel (no longer Jacob) reflected his new name?

2.        As sinners we had an old name and reputation. At our new birth we were given a new name and personality. How should we act when we find ourselves in situations similar to those that Jacob finds himself?

3.        Was God pleased with this altar erected by Jacob at Shalem? If so, why. If not, why?


II.       Study Lesson Outline


A.      His Strategy (Gen 33:1-13). If Jacob was really relying on the Lord, he would have sought His advice. Instead, he sent those ahead that he liked less.


1.        Those Less Favoured First, v. 2.

2.        Way ahead the day before, Jacob had sent wave after wave of gifts to Esau

3.        Homage To Esau, v. 3-8. Jacob is not just ďtalkingĒ humble, but really IS humble here!


a.       Bowing seven times before Esau

b.       No army with Israel

c.       Jacob is doing quite a job of telling Esau how great he is and how lowly one such as Jacob is (Philp 2:3). He told Esau that just seeing his face was as though he had seen the face of God, v. 10.

d.       Addresses himself as servant to Esau, v. 5.


1)       If you are a servant of God, you are a servant of others

2)       From here on, Israel is going to try and act like the battle is in another world!


4.        The Gifts, v. 9-11.


a.       Jacob continually offered gifts and sought to elevate Esau.

b.       One thing Jacob never brought himself to do - He never apologized. If Jacob had listened to what Esau was saying, he would have realized that Esau was not worried about the past. He did not want the gifts.

c.       The Gifts rejected by Esau; still imposed by Jacob.


1)       Jacob was determined to make his brother take the gifts that he offered.

2)       Trying to find grace (Cf Eph 2:8,9; Rom 1:17)

3)       Esau deferred the gifts for he seems to have a good bit going for him.

4)       The gifts were not to make Esau richer. Rather they were to ease Jacobís conscience.


B.       Deception and Departure 14-20.


1.        Jacob could have stood before Esau and said something to the effect that God told him to come back to his kindred and that he must do the Lordís bidding. He could have; but he did not, instead Jacob lied. Probably, not able to trust his brother yet.

2.        Esauís Offer.


a.       If there was any animosity in the heart of Esau at this meeting, the bible does not record it. That Esau was a man of the world and took little thought of future things can not be disputed. In this situation

b.       Esau presents us with a picture of person who is doing right in their own eye. He is the example of a good man on his way to hell. Esau placed the past behind him and seeks nothing from his brother. His actions are good, but they are of his choosing.


3.        Travel together as a family.


a.       Esau wanted to spend some time with Jacob. If we go back to the time that Isaac blessed Esau, we read that Esau would be a man that lived by the sword. Perhaps this is why he has 400 men with him. He may have been accustomed to fighting. We do not know.

b.       What we do know is he was more hospitable and friendly than Jacob, and Jacob was supposedly in the will of God. What does that tell us about Jacob? More importantly, what does it tell us about self?


4.        Jacob refused, v. 13-14.


a.       That this was a deliberate lie is easy to see.

b.       Jacob and his entourage just completed a journey of over 500 miles. That the children were not up to the journey was a lie from their father. Are we to suppose that when Jacob left Laban that he travelled slowly for the childrenís sake?


5.        Esau offered Jacob protection, v. 15.


a.       Jacob has been gone for about 20 years.

b.       The inhabitants of the country changed. Esau offered him protection.

c.       Perhaps that was why Esau traveled around with 400 men.

d.       Jacob again refused Esau offer.


6.        Meeting Again At The Appointed Place, v. 14.


a.       The brothers agreed to meet at Seir, v. 14.

b.       Jacob told Esau to go on ahead and he would bring up the rear. They would meet in few days at Seir.

c.       Jacob lied.

d.       All he wanted was Esau out of his life. Esau would travel on ahead; Jacob to follow with his family.


C.      Incomplete Obedience


1.        Jacob went to Succoth.


a.       Bethel was the place where the covenant was confirmed to Jacob, Gen. 28:13, 31:13. Jacob came with-in about 15 miles from where he should have been. God did not tell him to go to Shechem. God did not tell him he could not go to Shechem.

b.       What Jacob should have done was consult the Lord and find out just where it was the Lord wanted him.


2.        Jacob erected an altar at a new place.


a.       Everywhere Jacob goes, he is getting in the habit of worshipping (Gen 32:1).

b.       Just like his grand-daddy, Abraham.


3.        Problem is, God had told Israel to get back to BETHEL. Didnít quite obey fully. Hesitated


a.       The dangers of hesitating to do completely as the Lord demands

b.       King Saul is a good example

c.       Archippus (Col 4:17)


III.     Conclusion and Study Questions