the children God generously gave to your servant

Esau looked up and saw the women and children and said, “Who are these with you?”
Jacob said, “The children that God generously gave your servant.” (Genesis 33:5 CEB)

My first reaction when I read the heading of this chapter was, “Whoa! We skipped a lot!” An awful lot happens to our hero Jacob in 5 chapters. I have been intentional about staying in the passage I am given, but I think, for today, a little more of the story is helpful, particularly to understand Jacob’s humility with Esau.

Rebekah’s cousin Laban, like Rebekah, was a conniving man. When Jacob arrived in Haran, he immediately fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. Laban gave consent to the marriage but only if Jacob would work for him for 7 years. On their wedding night, Laban replaced Rachel with his elder daughter, Leah. When Jacob discovered he had married the wrong sister, he returned to Laban, who agreed, again, for Jacob to marry Rachel after 7 more years of labour. Jacob then marries Rachel and, between his two wives, has 12 sons and a daughter. By this stage, Jacob has taken not only his family, but all the wealth owed to him by Laban, and is on his way to find a new home.

Now that we are all caught up, compare these two brothers with the blessings they received from their father, Isaac. Around 30 years have gone by. A lot has happened with no contact. Jacob enters this encounter richly blessed with wealth, but full of fear. Esau arrives, perhaps with some fear since he brought 400 men, but, as he says, “I have plenty.”

Isaac’s blessing was about land and wealth and power. After all this time, I wonder if Esau and Jacob looked back on the blessings they received. With age and wisdom, do they still want what they wanted when they were younger men? If Isaac had blessed them with full lives and the guidance and love of God, would they have been happy then? Would that blessing mean more to them now? Isaac’s blessings divided them. God’s blessings, their children, their homes, have united them.

Afterthought: of course, then Jacob goes his own way. I wonder why? Perhaps he was afraid that, like most family visits, like fish, it would go bad after a week, so better to take what he has and go.

Day 10: Genesis 32 and 33

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