Genesis  ◦   Chapter 33

1Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was approaching with four hundred men, so he divided his family in groups: Leah and her children, Rachel and Joseph, and the two female servants and their children. 2He put the female servants and their children in front, followed by Leah and her children, and he placed Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3Then Jacob went on ahead of them. As Esau was approaching, Jacob, demonstrating that he recognized Esau as lord of the family, bowed to the ground seven times.

4But when Esau saw Jacob, he ran to meet him and hugged him. Esau threw his arms around Jacob and kissed him. And they were both crying with joy. 5When Esau stepped back and looked around and saw the women and children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?”

Jacob smiled and said, “They are my family – the children God has graciously given your humble servant.”

6Then, as Jacob introduced them, the female servants and their children came forward and bowed down. 7Then Leah and her children came forward and bowed down. Lastly, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down.

8Esau then asked, “Why did you send all these droves of sheep and cattle to me?”

“As my gift to you; to let you know that I long for your grace – for your heart to be reconciled to me,” Jacob replied.

9But Esau said, “O my brother, I already have plenty. Keep what you have for yourself.”

10“Please, brother,” Jacob implored, “If you have forgiven me and I am again welcomed into your favor, then accept this gift from me. For seeing your smiling face and experiencing your grace is like the face of God smiling down on me. 11So please accept my gift to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all that I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted the gift.

12Then Esau said, “Well, let’s go. I’ll lead the way and you can follow.”

13But Jacob said to him, “As you can see, the children are young and don’t travel quickly. Plus, I have calves and lambs, still nursing, that I must look after. If they are driven too hard, even for a single day, all the animals could die. 14So you, as our family lord, should go on ahead and not be delayed here. Allow me, your humble servant, to stay with the animals and the children, and follow slowly at their pace. I will see you again in Seir.”

15“Okay,” Esau said, “But at least let me leave some men to guide you.”

“You don’t need to do that,” Jacob replied. “It is enough to receive your kindness and acceptance.”

16So Esau headed back to Seir that same day. 17Jacob continued on to Succoth, where he built himself a house and made shelters for his flocks and herds. That is why the place is called Succoth (which means ’shelters’).

18Jacob left Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia and came in peace to the town of Shechem in Canaan and set up camp near the city. 19He bought a piece of land there for a hundred pieces of sliver from the descendants of Hamor, the father of Shechem, where he established his camp. 20He set up an altar there to God and called it El Elohe Israel (which means ’God reigns over Israel’).