Summary of passage: Jacob sees Esau coming towards him with 400 men so he divides up the women and children, putting the maidservants first, then Leah and her kids and finally Rachel and Joseph in the rear (obvious preference here). He went ahead and bowed 7 times to greet his brother.
Esau ran to meet Jacob and welcomed him with open arms. They wept and kissed. Jacob introduced his family and then insisted that Esau keep his gift of animals, saying to see his face is like seeing God’s.
Esau offered to accompany Jacob the rest of the way home, which Jacob refused, citing the fact his herds had a lot of babies and needed to go slow. Esau offered to leave some of his men with Jacob but Jacob refused that as well.
So Esau went back to Seir while Jacob went to Succoth to shelter. Then he ventured on to Shechem where he bought the land upon which to pitch his tent. He set up an altar.
14a) He bowed down to the ground 7 times upon meeting Esau. He calls himself Esau’s servant and his lord. He insists Esau keep his peace offering of animals.
b) They both wept. He compared seeing Esau’s face to seeing God’s face (no light statement).
c) Esau is genuinely glad to see Jacob. He runs to him, embraces him, kisses him, and he weeps. He asks to meet Jacob’s family and he attempts to refuse Jacob’s gift of animals. A selfish man would have gladly accepted. He offers to accompany Jacob back “home” and to offer an escort of men as well.
15) No where does it say in this passage Jacob passed 10 years at Shechem. In fact, it doesn’t say. This is a guess by scholars based off of a guess at Dinah’s age. Genesis 31:13 seems to imply that God is calling Jacob to Bethel. And in Genesis 35:1, God specifically calls Jacob to Bethel.
We all know if God calls, you go and go NOW! Don’t wait! Like the servant’s example in bringing back Rebekah, we must do God’s will and promptly. There is no time to wait. Especially when we know life is so very short.
Conclusions: In that culture, the act of Esau accepting the gifts was an act of forgiveness. You never accepted gifts from an enemy. With Esau’s acceptance, all was put right between the two brothers.
Jacob is still afraid of Esau. He doesn’t want Esau to accompany him and he ends up lying to him, saying he will follow him when Jacob instead goes the opposite direction. Despite having wrestled with God, Jacob is STILL not trusting God to be in control and lead him. Jacob inserts “Jacob” instead of “Israel” here and lingers where he should not.
Plus, Genesis 31:13 seems to imply God is calling Jacob to Bethel. So why does he stop here in Shechem? Fear. Obstinance. Desire to still be in charge.
One commentary I read suggested Jacob wanted to be close to the city (based off of Genesis 33:18), which is speculation in my view. I believe Jacob just wanted to be away from Esau so he went in the opposite direction and stopped somewhere, which happened to be Shechem.
Interesting, however, to note that Jacob is repeating Lot’s sin of wanting to be close to Sodom. As we shall see in chapter 34, sinful people have an unduly influence upon the godly.
Map Work: Map of Shechem and Bethel with Jabbok River HERE
Another one with Succoth and Peniel HERE