01/15/2020 Bible Study Gen 32:16-32 Jacob prepares to meet Esau
Genesis Chapter 32
Verse 1. And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Note: Jacob now is continuing his journey to Canaan. Jacobs physical home is still a distance
off but the land he is coming into is that promised to Abraham and Isaac and now Jacob
is to inherit.
Key Phrase: and the angels of GOD met him; Literally, the messengers of Elohim, not chance
travelers who informed him of Esau's being in the vicinity, but angels.
Verse 2. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of
that place Mahanaim.
Key Phrase: And when Jacob saw them; These appeared in a visible form, most probably
human, and in the habit, and with the accouterments of soldiers.
Key Phrase: he said, This is God’s host; Or army, hence he is often called the Lord of hosts.
Angels have this name from their number, order, strength and military exploits
Key Phrase: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim; Which signifies two hosts or
Armies. Either his own family and company making one, and the angels another,
or they very probably appeared in two companies. As two armies, and one went
on one side of Jacob and his family, and the other on the other side. It is believed
by religious scholars that one went before him, and the other behind him. This
was to secure him from any insult of Laban, should he pursue after him. The other
one to protect him from Esau, near whose country Jacob now was of whom he
was in some fear off or in danger from.
Verse 3. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the
country of Edom.
Key Phrase: And Jacob sent messengers before him unto Esau his brother; These were some
of his own servants he sent to inform him of his coming. By this way he might
learn in what temper and disposition of mind he was towards him.
Key Phrase: unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom: Which had its first name from Seir the
Horite. Esau having married into his family came into the possession of it by
virtue of that marriage. It is recorded that he and his sons drove out the Horites,
the ancient possessors of it. It was afterwards called Edom, a name of Esau, which
he had from the red pottage he sold his birthright for to his brother Jacob.
Note: Esau it seems was removed from his father's house, and was possessed of a country
after mentioned, called from his name; and which Aben Ezra says lay between Haran and
the land of Israel. This path to Esau did not directly lie in the road Jacob need take to get
home, yet, as it was near him, he did not choose to pass by without seeing his brother.
Verse 4. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy
servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
Key Phrase: And he commanded them: Being his servants he gives instruction too.
Key Phrase: saying, thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Being not only a lord of a country,
but his eldest brother. to intimate that he did not insist on the prerogatives of the
birthright and blessing which he had obtained for himself. Leaving it to God to
fulfil his own purpose in his seed. He chose to bespeak in this manner to soften
his mind and let him know he was not a threat to him. Note he does not give up
his right as heir of the blessing and all it contained.
Key Phrase: thy servant Jacob saith thus; Expressing great humility and modesty, though his
father Isaac by his blessing had made him lord over Esau. The time was not come
for this to take place. First his father not being yet dead and second it was to have
its accomplishment not in his own person, but in his posterity or offspring.
Key Phrase: I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now; Jacob had been a
servant in Laban's family for twenty years past. He had an hard master and
therefore could not be the object of his brother's envy, but rather of his pity and
Verse 5. And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: and I
have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
Key Phrase: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants; This
he would have said, so he would know he wasn’t coming to ask anything of him.
As well as put himself and his family upon him as a burden. This would also let him
know that should not treat him with contempt, as a poor mean beggarly creature.
Also to indicate that he should not be ashamed of the relation Jacob was to him.
Key Phrase: and I have sent to tell my lord; of his coming, and of his state and circumstances:
Key Phrase: that I may find grace in thy sight; Share in his good will which was all he wanted.
That friendship, harmony and brotherly love, might subsist between them which
he was very desirous of.
Verse 6. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and
also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
Key Phrase: And the messengers returned to Jacob; After they had delivered their message,
with the answer they brought back from Esau.
Key Phrase: saying, we came to thy brother Esau; Which, though not expressed is implied in
these words and is still more manifest by what follows.
Key Phrase: and also he cometh to meet thee; To pay a friendly visit, as they supposed.
Key Phrase; and four hundred men with him; This Esau would have done partly to show his
grandeur and partly out of respect to Jacob, to honor him.
Note: There are some that think this was done with an ill intent to him and which indeed
Verse 7. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was
with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
Key Phrase: Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; Knowing what he had done to his
brother in getting the birthright and blessing from Isaac instead of Esau. What a
level of hostility Jacob had conceived in his mind against him on that account.
Note: Jacob betrays much weakness and want of faith here when God has promised again and
again that he would he with him. God instructed Jacob that He would keep him, protect
him and return him safe to the land of Canaan. Even when he had just had such an appearance of angels to be his helpers, guardians, and protectors.
Key Phrase: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and
the camels, into two bands: Jacob had some of his servants and shepherds with
a part of the flocks and herds in one band or company. Also some with the rest of
them and the camels, his wives and his children in the other.
Verse 8. And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company
which is left shall escape.
Key Phrase: And said, if Esau come to the one company, and smite it; The first company,
which perhaps consisted only of some servants, with a part of his cattle. So that if
Esau should come in a hostile manner and fall upon that and slay the servants
Esau would take the cattle as a booty and not pursue him.
Key Phrase: then the other company which is left shall escape; By flight in which most likely
was he himself, his wives and children and the camels to carry them off. Jacob
who would have notice by what should happen to the first band.
Note: One would think, that, notwithstanding all this precaution and wise methods taken,
there could be little expectation of escaping the hands of Esau. If he came out on such an ill design; for whither could they flee? How could they hope
to get out of the reach of four hundred men pursuing after them.,
Verse 9. And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord
which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal
well with thee:
Key Phrase: And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac; In this
distress he does not consult the teraphim Rachel had taken from her father. Nor
does he call upon the hosts of angels that had just appeared to him to help
protect, and guard him. Jacob prays to God only, the God of his fathers, who had
promised great things to them and had done great things for them.
Key Phrase: the Lord which saidst unto me, return unto thy country, and to thy kindred; The
same God had appeared to him, when in Laban's house and bid him return to his
own country to his father's house. In obedience to which command he was now
on his journey too. His actions so far are according to the will of God. Jacob acts
as though he had no dependence nor put any confidence in anything done by him.
Key Phrase: and I will deal well with thee; Jacob recites God’s promise in this prayer yet he
hoped God in his grace and goodness would have a regard unto him, as he was
doing what he was directed to by him.
Note: The phrase “and I will deal well with thee”; means to bestow good things on thee, both
temporal and spiritual, and among the former, preservation from evils and dangers is
Verse 10. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast
shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am
become two bands.
Key Phrase: I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies; Or of any of them, according to
his humble sense of things his mind was now impressed with. He was not worthy
of the least mercy and favor that had been bestowed upon him. Not even of any
temporal mercy, and much less of any spiritual one, and therefore did not expect
any from the hands of God, on account of any merit of his own.
Key Phrase: and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; in performing
promises made to him; grace, mercy, goodness and truth and faithfulness in
the performance of them; Jacob had had a rich experience of both, and was deeply
affected therewith, and which made him humble before God.