This morning I read in Genesis 33 of the meeting of Jacob and Esau. When Jacob heard that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men, Jacob sent ahead wave after wave of livestock as gifts to appease Esau. As the time of meeting neared, Jacob led the way followed by the two slaves and their children, then Leah and her children and finally beloved Rachel and Joseph. Esau inquired, “Who are these with you?” Jacob says, that these are children God in his grace had given him.
As the meet and greet concludes, Esau says that he will accompany Jacob as they travel to Seir where Esau lives. Seir was southeast of the Dead Sea. Jacob gives a rather unconvincing excuse that his entourage could not move any faster. Esau should go on ahead and he, Jacob would follow. Esau offers to leave some men to help. But, again, Jacob politely refuses the offer.
Is Jacob still suspicious of his brother despite the reconciliation? Or is habit of acting deceptively still part of his character? The story doesn’t tell us. Perhaps that is intentional. Jacob, the carrier of God’s promise, can’t quite give up old ways. Though he led Esau to believe that he would follow him to Seir Jacob only went a little distance and settled in Succoth, still near the Jabbok River on the east side of the Jordan. There he bought some land from Hamor family for 100 sheep.
This will lead into Schechem’s rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, which will in turn lead to a scheme by Schechem’s father, Hamor to take over the tribe of Jacob through inter marriage. Jacob’s sons agree on one provision, all of Hamor’s men should be circumcised. Then when the men were still sore after two days, Jacob’s sons attacked and killed the men, took their women, and all their livestock and looted their homes. Once more, through deception, the people of Jacob enrich themselves and continue their way to be a great people; though not a people well loved.
What always strikes me about these stories, is that God keeps true to his promises through all the machinations of us humans. Is comforting for we followers of Christ, who promised to be with us always.