A Daily Genesis

Genesis 33:5-11

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 33:5 . . Looking about, he saw the women and the children. Who, he asked: are these with you? He answered: The children with whom God has favored your servant.[/B]

Because Jacob's response drew Esau's attention to the lads rather than the women, Jewish folklore proposes that Jacob did that so as to take Esau's mind off the wives.

What an ugly thing to say. It implies that Esau was a barbaric cave man who stole wives from their husbands; yet there is not one single incident in the entire Old Testament recording something like that about him. So that remark is unfounded, and totally uncalled for. It's highly unlikely that Esau's mind would be off the women anyway while they were standing right there in front of him; and subsequently introduced one by one.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 33:6-7 . .Then the maids, with their children, came forward and bowed low; next Leah, with her children, came forward and bowed low; and last, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed low;[/B]

The Hebrew word for "bowed low" is from [I]shachah[/I] (shaw-khaw') which means: to depress, i.e. prostrate. At Gen 22:5, and also in many, many other places in the Old Testament, shachah is translated "worship".

I think the scene went something like this: First Esau asked about the women and children. Then Jacob, by way of introduction, like a master of ceremonies on a variety show, moved to the side, raised his arm, gestured towards his family, and presenting them for Esau's review, proudly announced; Voila! My offspring, with whom God has favored your servant.

Why not introduce the wives first? Well; in that day, wives, were a dime a dozen. But offspring! Oh yes; offspring were to brag about. Men regarded their offspring as gold and precious stones in value.

"Sons are the provision of the Lord; the fruit of the womb, His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born to a man in his youth. Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they shall not be put to shame when they contend with the enemy in the gate." (Ps 127:3-5)

First up were Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali, then Zilpah with Gad and Asher. Then came Leah with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Then, last of all, Rachel and Joseph.

Everybody did obeisance to Esau. I tell you the humility of Jacob's family is astounding. Nobody, not one among them, Jacob included, harbored the unbearable "chosen-people" mentality that is so prevalent today among modern Jews.

Esau has been given a very bad rap in Jewish folklore. Yet, not one single time does the Old Testament portray him as a murderer, a liar, a thief, or an adulterer. Those allegations have all been smirched upon his reputation by people with evil minds; prejudiced against him for no good reason at all but merely because his Jewish detractors can't bear to accept him either as a brother, nor as an equal. Jacob's progeny has been guilty of all the crimes and sins of which they accuse Esau, and more too; yet many Jews count their own people superior to Esau in every way imaginable.

The only reason Jacob's progeny continues to exist is because of the oath and the promises that God gave their ancestor Abraham. If not for that early covenant, they would be just as extinct today as the Edomites, and for the very same reasons.

"Fair Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city beleaguered. Had not the Lord of Hosts left us some survivors, we should be like Sodom-- another Gomorrah." (Isa 1:8-9)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 33:8 . . And he asked: What do you mean by all this company which I have met? He answered" To gain my lord's favor. Esau said: I have enough, my brother; let what you have remain yours.[/B]

No doubt uncle Laban would have judged Esau a fool because Rachel's dad, badly infected with a serious case of unbridled avarice, would have certainly snapped up Jacob's offer immediately. But Esau's repertoire of vices apparently didn't include greed. He was actually a very simple kind of guy, and easy to satisfy.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 33:10-11 . . But Jacob said: No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably. Please accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty. And when he urged him, he accepted.[/B]

In accordance with oriental customs, which have continued to be practiced for thousands of years, the most certain way for one who desires reconciliation to be assured of it is to have his proffered gift accepted by the one whose favor he seeks. In any case, it would be considered a great personal favor if Esau would accept Jacob's gift, even though Jacob knew that his brother didn't really need it in any material sense.

Jacob's diplomacy was irresistible. The men used different adverbs to describe their prosperity. Esau said; "I have enough". Enough is from [I]rab[/I] (rab) which means: abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality) But Jacob said; "I have plenty". Plenty is from [I]kol[/I] (kole) and/or [I]kowl[/I] (kole) which means: the whole; hence, all. So Esau, through his own industry, had garnered for himself all that he would ever need. But Jacob, through the providence of God, had everything. So I think he was implying that he really had too much to manage and would consider it a personal favor if Esau would take some off his hands.

Here in American culture, we typically feel indebted by accepting a gift from a friend. That mind-set spoils good will, so that a present-- which should have, in all respects, represented someone's heart felt happy thoughts towards us --is typically regarded as a trap, and robs an occasion of the good feelings it was intended to generate.

Fortunately there are numerous occasions when we have implied consent to lavish gifts upon friends and loved ones without arousing suspicions of evil intent; e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, Xmas, Easter, promotions, retirements, graduations; and whatever else we can appropriate to express our affections for others. I think that too many of us have become Grinches out of fear of obligation. It just shouldn't be that way.

Esau, realizing the sincerity of Jacob's motives, and also himself desiring that there be no question he himself also earnestly desired full reconciliation with his brother, finally agreed to accept Jacob's gifts.

Something is strangely missing from the brothers' reunion. Wouldn't you think that Jacob would be asking about his mom and dad? Were they still alive? In good health? Stuff like that. Well; I think Jacob already knew. After all, he knew exactly where to find Esau.

So Jacob may have stayed current all those twenty years via caravans and messengers; which in that day were pretty much the equivalent of today's FedEx and UPS services. Somewhere along the line, Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had joined Jacob. So there's a pretty good chance Jacob already knew all about his mom and dad before returning to Canaan. However, since Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had already joined Jacob, and since there's no record that Jacob ever saw Rebecca alive after leaving home, his mom may have been deceased at this point.

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