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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Jacob reaches Canaan (Genesis 33)

When Jacob and Esau did finally meet, Jacob discovered that his brother had no antagonism towards him. It is clear that Esau also prospered during the two decades that Jacob was away, in fulfilment of the blessing he had received from Isaac. He was now a powerful chief, with more men than Abraham had when he rescued Lot. So it was obvious that he could help Jacob in practical ways, and the account tells us that Esau offered aid several times to Jacob.

Yet Jacob refused to take any help. Instead he insisted that Esau receive a present from him. Probably Jacob was aware that he as the heir to Isaac could not be indebted to Esau. He was also aware that he had to behave like God who had given so much to him.

Being Jacob, he still was not entirely honest with Esau. He gave his brother an impression that eventually he would go to Seir (the territory of Esau) to see him (v. 14). Of course, he may have done so later on, but at this time he chose to travel in the opposite direction and away from Seir. Deceit is not a way to ensure God's protection.

This change of direction also prevented Jacob from travelling to Bethel where he had previously met with God or to his father’s camp further south at Hebron (35:27). Fear can make us change our plans without considering the consequences. And there would be consequences for Jacob because of this choice (which we will read about in the next chapters).


Eventually, he reached Shechem and decided to settle down there. Things now seemed to be fine for Jacob because he erected an altar to the God of Israel. But an alert reader will have noticed Jacob chose to live near a pagan city (as Lot had done), and there was still the fact that Jacob had lied to his brother. Correct external practices cannot undo intentional lies – the God of truth would yet have something to say to Jacob.

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