Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Jacob

Lesson 5: Jacob Is Reconciled with Esau

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 33:1–20)

Jacob’s meeting with his brother Esau was amazing. After twenty years of separation between them, Jacob had every reason to expect Esau still planned to kill him in revenge for the stolen blessing, as Esau had vowed. But even with this unresolved conflict hanging over Jacob, God still commanded him to return home with his family and all that he possessed.

When the two brothers met, the scene was quite a contrast to the original prophecy that "the older will serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23). Jacob was the one who bowed before Esau, and used terms like "your servant" and my lord." For his part, Esau ran up to Jacob, embraced him, and kissed him – a tender picture of an equally sincere change in Esau’s attitude. But Jacob was still wary enough of Esau to head north and buy a piece of land near Shechem (about thirty miles north of Jerusalem) after assuring Esau he would be right behind him as Esau went south to Seir, or Edom.

Study Questions

  1. Jacob put Rachel and Joseph at the back of the line as he introduced his family to Esau. Do you think Jacob did this on purpose – why?
  2. Jacob told Esau that seeing his face was "like seeing the face of God" (v. 10), meaning Jacob realized Esau’s kindness was God’s favor toward him. How did Jacob indicate that God had answered his prayer (Genesis 32:11)?
  3. Jacob built shelters, or booths, for his family and animals in Succoth (which means "booth," v. 17). Read Leviticus 23:33-44 about the Festival of Tabernacles. What did Jacob’s act symbolize in terms of God’s provision for him?
  4. Jacob built an altar at this time in his life (v. 20), giving it a name that means "the God of Israel is a mighty God." List ways God had shown His mighty power to Jacob.

Something to Think About

Heartfelt reconciliation and a humble spirit can heal even decades of pain, hurt, and anger. Do you need to forgive someone today – or ask for forgiveness?

The patriarchs built altars to celebrate God’s goodness to them at important junctures in their lives. Consider keeping a journal to record important events and answers to prayer in your life.