Today at the men’s Bible study we looked at Genesis 32 and 33 . While we read Genesis 33 to complete the episode, most of our discussion centered around the events of chapter 32 where Jacob, after leaving his father-in-law, meets with the angels (Vs. 1) and then plots his next course. The problem Jacob faces in this episode is reuniting with his brother Esau, who had cheated out of his birthright and then tricked out of his father’s blessing. He fears what is to come.
Our discussion mostly was on how Jacob cried out to God and reminded God of the promise He had made to do good for him (vs. 9). Still, this plea comes after Jacob has divided his camp in two in anticipation of meeting Esau, from whom he expects the worst. Is Jacob here manipulating even with God? As the chapter progresses we see Jacob send gifts in hopes of appeasing his brother and arranging his party so that there is some means of escape lest his brother strike out against him. Finally, we see that Jacob is left alone with just his family. And alone, in his desperation, he wrestles with God Himself.
What happens in this case is that Jacob comes to the end of himself and is changed by God. Like all of us, he reaches out to God when there appears no other wiggle room left. God changes Jacob’s name to Israel to signal his covenant with these people and then physically cripples Jacob as a reminder of this agreement.
Does Jacob change? Perhaps not immediately, for we see in the next chapter he still attempts to manipulate his encounter with Esau (Chapter 33:1-3). It doesn’t matter for God has softened Esau’s heart without the aid of Jacob’s gifts or scheming.
From there, despite the reconciliation, Jacob resists his brother’s entreaties and goes his own way. The chapter ends with Jacob putting down roots in the Canaanite land of Shechem, not the land of his father and his kindred (Chapter 32:9) as he had prayed to God. This consequence of this disobedience becomes more clear in the episode related in chapter 34.
Tags: Bible, Jacob, discernment