~~~~~Lesson: Genesis, Chapters 32-34 (reading below lesson)
The section that describes Jacob's anticipation of meeting Esau, and his preparations are almost humorous. Clearly, Esau had become a man of his own right during the twenty years that Jacob was gone. The loss of his inheritance didn’t have a lasting ill effect on his fortunes. Yet Jacob is still afraid that Esau is going to kill him.
Jacob sends forth cattle, servants, and prostrates himself on the ground when Esau appears. Even the words from the servants that Esau is coming "with 400 men" do NOT imply threat; it depends on interpretation. One could just as well assume that Esau is coming with a large party to honor Jacob and prepare a banquet to celebrate his return. Instead, Jacob assumes Esau is coming with 400 men to kill him. Esau runs to Jacob, kisses him, and weeps. How opposite of what Jacob expected!
Jacob had been promised by God that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars and his descendants would inhabit Canaan- yet he fears death for his whole family from Esau! Is Jacob showing lack of faith here?
Esau greets his brother with tears and happiness, when his brother expected to be killed. Are we sometimes expecting the worst? Does God surprise us by blessing us during those times?
Jacob is re-named Israel at about this point in his life. Is there a time in your life in which a situation has so changed you that felt, when it was over, you had been "renamed"?
~Reading: Genesis: Chapters 32-34 (except Jacob’s wrestling w/ angel)
We covered Jacob and his family's flight from Laban. Jacob is now headed back to his homeland, where his father Isaac and his brother Esau still lived. As you remember, Jacob "stole" Esau's birthright before he left, leaving Esau with much anger towards Jacob. Now, heading home, Jacob is worried that he is in danger, fearing Esau wishes to kill him.
(32:4-8) Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, with this message: "Thus shall you say to my lord Esau: 'Your servant jacob speaks as follows: I have been staying with Laban and have been detained there until now. I own cattle, asses and sheep, as well as male and female servants. I am sending my lord this information in the hope of gaining your favor.'" When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We reached your brother Esau. He is now coming to meet you, accompanied by four hundred men."
Jacob was very much frightened. In his anxiety, he divided the people who were with him, as well as his flocks, herds, and camels, into two camps.
-----Jacob then sends three sets of servants out with cattle as gifts.
(33:3-4) He himself [Jacob] went on ahead of them, bowing to the ground seven times, until he reached his brother. Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, and flinging himself on his neck, kissed him as he wept.
-----Jacob then gives Esau the many gifts he sent, over Esau's protests. He refuses Esau's offer to have his 400 men help drive the animals. Esau heads off to his own land, Edom, with his men. Jacob goes on to Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, and sets up a home for himself there and booths for the cattle.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong