Jacob Sends Gifts To Esau

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Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.”“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered.

365 Day Reading Plan

Day 20 (20 January)

Genesis 32:1-33:16

 As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed,

This is God’s camp!

So he named the place Mahanaim.

Jacob Sends Gifts to Esau

Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom. He told them,

Give this message to my master Esau: ‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban, and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men, and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.

After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported,

We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!

Jacob was terrified at the news. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. He thought,

If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape.

Then Jacob prayed,

O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.

Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau:

  • 200 female goats
  • 20 male goats
  • 200 ewes
  • 20 rams
  • 30 female camels with their young
  • 40 cows
  • 10 bulls
  • 20 female donkeys
  • and 10 male donkeys

He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants,

Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.

He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group:

When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us.

Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds:

You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.

Jacob thought,

I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.

So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles with God

During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said,


Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!

But Jacob said,

I will not let you go unless you bless me.

What is your name?

the man asked.

He replied,


Your name will no longer be Jacob,

the man told him.

From now on you will be called Israel, [because you have fought with God and with men and have won.

Please tell me your name,

Jacob said.

Why do you want to know my name?

the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said,

I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.

The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)

Jacob and Esau Make Peace

Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.

Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked,

Who are these people with you?

These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,

Jacob replied. Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him.

And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?

Esau asked.

Jacob replied,

They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.

My brother, I have plenty,

Esau answered.

Keep what you have for yourself.

But Jacob insisted,

No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.

And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.


Esau said,

let’s be going. I will lead the way.

But Jacob replied,

You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die. Please, my lord, go ahead of your servant. We will follow slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for the livestock and the children. I will meet you at Seir.

All right,

Esau said,

but at least let me assign some of my men to guide and protect you.

Jacob responded,

That’s not necessary. It’s enough that you’ve received me warmly, my lord!

So Esau turned around and started back to Seir that same day.

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