Gems from Genesis: Chapter 33

A contrite and humbler Jacob finally comes to the moment of truth as he faces his brother Esau, the brother he deceived and essentially robbed of his birthright and blessing. Though we have some insight into what has brought the change in Jacob’s life, there is no account to help us grasp what the years of separation have done in the life of Esau.

I think that’s why this first verse in our gems for today takes us by surprise:

But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

Genesis 33:4-11 ESV (Emphasis mine)

The impact of an embrace.

Jacob, along with his servants, wives, and children, is bowing down. He’s done everything he can to show his deference to his older brother. The humility expressed in bowing speaks volumes to Jacob’s remorse and guilt over past actions, yet, Esau runs to him. He embraces the one who was his enemy.

Does that catch you by surprise? It did me, and I’m sure it did Jacob. The fear he felt in this inevitable reunion was washed away by open arms, kisses, and tears.

This causes me to ask myself how many broken relationships could be restored by running toward my enemy, embracing the one who caused me pain, and being willing to shed tears over lost time.


Esau is just full of surprises in this encounter. He asks Jacob the meaning for the parade of animals, servants, and family members. Jacob again just wants to prove his need for restoration and favor by telling him the flocks are gifts. Like us, Jacob feels the need to earn forgiveness. How much do we need to do or pay or offer to find restoration in relationships or even with God?

Esau, however, expresses something we would expect from a more likely source—satisfaction. “I have enough, my brother.” If anyone deserved to get payback or restitution, it was Esau. After all, Jacob had tricked him into gaining his father’s favor, but this was the farthest thing from Esau’s mind. God had indeed blessed him, despite his brother’s deceit and his father’s fears. Did he have as much as Jacob? We don’t know, but we do know that what he had was enough.

What is enough for you? Do you feel others owe you for things you’ve missed out on in life? Has God not blessed you enough? Take a lesson from Esau and be content with what you have.

The face of God.

This has always been one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because it expresses the lifting of a very heavy load from Jacob’s mind. He’s been blessed to be able to see his brother’s face again after years of separation and guilt; and when he sees it, Esau’s face is welcoming and forgiving.

What better expresses the face of God than a smile instead of a scowl? When a person expects hatred and they see love and forgiveness, God is showing himself through you. That day, Jacob saw God in the face of his brother, because he saw hope in a restored relationship—acceptance.

An unlikely hero.

Esau is the hero of the story today, as he puts aside anger, resentment, and personal hurt to welcome, embrace, be satisfied, and smile in the face of the one he once longed to kill.

Can you be that hero in the life of someone else today? Learn from Esau and run toward your brother with …

Grace and Peace          

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