Genesis 33

Genesis 33


Now JacobI looked upII and sawIII, IV EsauV coming,VI

Notes on verse 1a

I “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
II “looked up” = nasaayin. Literally “lifted Jacob his eyes.” Nasa is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
III “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
IV {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
V “Esau” = Esav. From asah (to squeeze, handle, or press) OR from asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is Esau, perhaps meaning rough as something one handles. It could also be doer, maker, or worker. See
VI “coming” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.

and fourVII hundred menVIII with him. So he dividedIX the childrenX

Notes on verse 1b

VII “four” = arba. From raba (to make square or be four-sided). This is four.
VIII “men” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
IX “divided” = chatsah. 15x in OT. This is to halve, divide, reach, participate.
X “children” = yeled. From yalad (to bear, bring forth; can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage). This is something born – so, offspring, youth, fruit. It is the same word used in Isaiah 9:6 “for a child will be born to us.”

among LeahXI and RachelXII and the twoXIII maids.XIV 

Notes on verse 1c

XI “Leah” = Leah. From laah (to be weary or exhausted, parched, faint, or tired; to be impatient or have a hard time; figuratively, being grieved or disgusted). This is Leah, meaning “weary” or “wild cow.” See
XII “Rachel” = Rachel. From the same as rachel (a ewe, sheep). Its root may refer to travelling. This is Rachel, meaning “ewe.”
XIII “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.
XIV “maids” = shiphchah. Root may mean to spread out – it would be the same root used in mishpachah, which means family or clan. This is maidservant, female slave, or female bondslave.

He putXV the maids with their children in front,XVI thenXVII Leah with her children, and Rachel and JosephXVIII last of all. 

Notes on verse 2

XV “put” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XVI “front” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.
XVII “then” = acharon. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is end, last, coming behind, to loiter, later. It can also refer to the west.
XVIII “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”

He himself went onXIX aheadXX of them, bowingXXI himself to the groundXXII

Notes on verse 3a

XIX “went on” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
XX “ahead” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
XXI “bowing” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.
XXII “ground” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

sevenXXIII times,XXIV until he came nearXXV his brother.XXVI

Notes on verse 3b

XXIII “seven” = sheba. This is seven or by sevenfold. It can also be used to imply a week or an indefinite number. Symbolically, this is the number of fullness, sacredness, perfection.
XXIV “times” = paam. From paam (to move, trouble; to tap in a regular rhythm; to agitate). This is a beat, stroke, footstep, or occurrence.
XXV “came near” = nagash. This is to draw, bring, or come near. It is approaching for any reason – as an attack on an enemy, in order to worship, to make an argument. It can also be used as a euphemism for sex.
XXVI “brother” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.

But Esau ranXXVII to meetXXVIII him, and embracedXXIX him,

Notes on verse 4a

XXVII “ran” = ruts. This is to run or rush, divide quickly, bring swiftly. It can also refer to a footman or guard.
XXVIII “meet” = qirah. From the same as qara (to happen, meet, bring about). This is any kind of encounter, whether peaceful, hostile, or incidental. It can also mean help or seek.
XXIX “embraced” = chabaq. 13x in OT. This is to embrace, clasp one’s hands, or cling.

and fellXXX on his neckXXXI and kissedXXXII him, and they wept.XXXIII When Esau looked up and saw the womenXXXIV and children, he said, “Who are these with you?”

Notes on verses 4b-5a

XXX “fell” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
XXXI “neck” = tsavvar. Perhaps from tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress, adversary). This is the neck or the back of the neck.
XXXII “kissed” = nashaq. This is to kiss in a literal or figurative sense. It can mean to touch, rule, or equip with weapons.
XXXIII “wept” = bakah. This is to weep, complain, or lament.
XXXIV “women” = ishshah. Related to “men” in v1. From ish (see note VIII above) This is woman, wife, or female.

Jacob said, “The children whom GodXXXV has graciously givenXXXVI your servant.”XXXVII Then the maids drew near,XXXVIII they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 

Esau said, “What do you mean by all this companyXXXIX that I met?”XL

Notes on verses 5b-8a

XXXV “God” = Elohim.
XXXVI “graciously given” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
XXXVII “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
XXXVIII “drew near” = nagash. Same as “came near” in v3. See note XXV above.
XXXIX “company” = machaneh. From chanah (to decline, bending down, or living in tents; can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle). This is an encampment, whether of people traveling together or soldiers. So, it can be a camp band, or company as well as an army of soldiers. Also can be used of other groups like animals, angels or stars.
XL “met” = pagash. 14x in OT. This is to meet. It could be an incidental meeting or a violence encounter. It can also mean to have something in common or to agree.

Jacob answered, “To findXLI favorXLII withXLIII my lord.”XLIV 

But Esau said, “I have enough,XLV my brother; keepXLVI what you have for yourself.” 

Notes on verses 8b-9

XLI “find” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
XLII “favor” = chen. Related to “graciously given” in v5. From chanan (see note XXXVI above). This is grace, favor, kindness, beauty, precious.
XLIII {untranslated} = ayin. Literally “in the sight of.” Same as “looked up” in v1. See note II above.
XLIV “lord” = adon. From a root that means ruling or being sovereign. This is lord, master, or owner.
XLV “enough” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
XLVI “keep” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.

10 Jacob said, “No, please;XLVII ifXLVIII I find favor with you, then acceptXLIX my presentL from my hand;LI

Notes on verse 10a

XLVII “please” = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
XLVIII {untranslated} = na. Same as “please” in v10. See note XLVII above.
XLIX “accept” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
L “present” = minchah. This is a gift or an offering, particularly a sacrificial one that is generally bloodless and given spontaneously (voluntarily).
LI “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

for trulyLII to see your faceLIII is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor.LIV 

Notes on verse 10b

LII “truly” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
LIII “face” = paneh. Same as “ahead” in v3. See note XX above.
LIV “have received me with such favor” = ratsah. This is to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor. It can mean to approve or consent regarding something. It can also be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned.

11 Please accept my giftLV that is broughtLVI to you, because God has dealt graciouslyLVII with me, and because I have everything I want.” So he urgedLVIII him, and he tookLIX it.

Notes on verse 11

LV “gift” = barakah. From barak (to kneel, bless; blessing God as part of worship and adoration; blessing humans to help them; can be used as a euphemism to say curse God). This is blessing, which implies prosperity or peace.{Note: this is the same word as Gen 27:35 where Isaac says, “your brother (Jacob) came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing” and the following verses.}
LVI “brought” = bo. Same as “coming” in v1. See note VI above.
LVII “dealt graciously” = chanan. Same as “graciously given” in v5. See note XXXVI above.
LVIII “urged” = patsar. 7x in OT. This is to urge, press, peck it. Figuratively, it can mean to stun or refer to stubbornness.
LIX “took” = laqach. Same as “accept” in v10. See note XLIX above.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.”LX 

Notes on verse 12

LX “let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you” = nasa + halak + halak + neged. Literally “Let us take our journey and let us go and I will go before you.” Nasa is properly pulling up as when one pulls up tent pegs or stakes. This would imply striking tents in order to start a journey. So this could be bring, pullout, set out, journey, or cause to go away. Halak is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc. Neged is from nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knowsLXI that the children are frailLXII and that the flocksLXIII and herds,LXIV which are nursing,LXV are a care to me;

Notes on verse 13a

LXI “knows” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
LXII “frail” = rak. 16x in OT. From rakak (to be tender, soft, faint, weak; to soften or mollify). This is tender in a literal or figurative sense. It could be delicate, gentle, inexperienced, refined, soft, or weak.
LXIII “flocks” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats
LXIV “herds” = baqar. From baqar (to plow, break forth; figuratively, to inquire, inspect, consider). This is cattle – an animal used for plowing.
LXV “nursing” = ul. 5x in OT. This is to nurse or suckle. It can also be used of a suckling lamb.

and if they are overdrivenLXVI for oneLXVII day, all the flocks will die.LXVIII 

Notes on verse 13b

LXVI “overdriven” = daphaq. 3x in OT. This is to knock, pound, drive hard. It is severe force or pressure.
LXVII “one” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
LXVIII “die” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

14 LetLXIX my lord pass on aheadLXX ofLXXI his servant, and I will lead onLXXII slowly,LXXIII

Notes on verse 14a

LXIX {untranslated} = na. Same as “please” in v10. See note XLVII above.
LXX “pass on ahead” = abar. Same as “went on” in v3. See note XIX above.
LXXI {untranslated} = paneh. Same as “ahead” in v3. See note XX above.
LXXII “lead on” = nahal. 10x in OT. This is leading or guiding – specifically to a resting place or somewhere where there is water. So, it can mean to refresh or feed, protect or sustain. The word itself carries a sense of flowing, sparkling water. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me beside still waters.”
LXXIII “slowly” = at. 7x in OT. This is softly or gently. It can also refer to a charmer because their spells are whispered.

according to the paceLXXIV of the cattleLXXV that are beforeLXXVI me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”LXXVII

Notes on verse 14b

LXXIV “pace” = regel. This is foot, endurance, or journey. It is a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey. It can be used euphemistically for private parts.
LXXV “cattle” = melakah. From the same as malak (messenger, an angel, or a deputy; human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God; also supernatural messengers i.e. angels). Properly, this is a deputyship or some kind of work. It can also be the product that comes from labor.
LXXVI “before” = paneh. Same as “ahead” in v3. See note XX above.
LXXVII “Seir” = Seir. From the same as sear (hair, hairy, rough); {from sa’ar (to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, storm tossed; this is to toss in a literal or figurative sense)} OR from sa’iyr (goat, shaggy, devil, satyr). This is Seir, Edomite mountain region. It is the name of the people that live there and a particular Judean mountain. It may mean “the hairy guys,” “bucks,” “horrors,” “bristly,” or “riders on the storm.” See

15 So Esau said, “Let me leaveLXXVIII, LXXIX with you some of the peopleLXXX who are with me.”

But he said, “Why should my lord be so kind to me?”LXXXI 

Notes on verse 15

LXXVIII “leave” = yatsag. 16x in OT. This is to set, establish, present, stay. It can imply putting something somewhere permanently.
LXXIX {untranslated} = na. Same as “please” in v10. See note XLVII above.
LXXX “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
LXXXI “be so kind to me” = matsa + chen + ayin. Literally “let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” Matsa is the same as “find” in v8. See note XLI above. Chen is the same as “favor” in v8. See note XLII above. Ayin is the same as “looked up” in v1. See note II above.

16 So Esau returnedLXXXII that day on his wayLXXXIII to Seir. 17 But Jacob journeyed to Succoth,LXXXIV and builtLXXXV himself a house,LXXXVI

Notes on verses 16-17a

LXXXII “returned” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
LXXXIII “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LXXXIV “Succoth” = Sukkoth. 18x in OT. From sukkah (booth, canopy, shelter, tent, or tabernacle); from sok (lair, thicket, den, or hiding place; a den or pavilion as made of intertwined boughs); from sakak (to interweave, knit). This is Succoth, perhaps meaning “booths” or “weavings.” It is related to the Jewish holiday “Sukkoth,” the Festival of Booths. See
LXXXV “built” = banah. This is to build, make, set up, restore, repair, or obtain children. It is to build literally or figuratively.
LXXXVI “house” = bayit. Related to “built” in v17. Probably from banah (see note LXXXV above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

and madeLXXXVII boothsLXXXVIII for his cattle;LXXXIX therefore the placeXC is calledXCI Succoth.

Notes on verse 17b

LXXXVII “made” = asah. Related to “Esau” in v1. See second verb in note V above.
LXXXVIII “booths” = sukkah. Related to “Succoth” in v17. See note LXXXIV above.
LXXXIX “cattle” = miqneh. From qanah (to get, acquire, purchase, move to jealousy, buyer, keep cattle). This is something that is bought, which implies property or possession. However, it is generally used of livestock – cattle, flock, herds.
XC “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
XCI “called” = qara + shem. Qara is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth. Shem is related to “put” in v2. May be from sim (see note XV above). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.

18 Jacob came safelyXCII to the cityXCIII of Shechem,XCIV which is in the landXCV of Canaan,XCVI

Notes on verse 18a

XCII “safely” = shalem. From shalam (to be complete or sound; to have safety mentally, physically, or extending to one’s estate; so, if these things are safe and complete, the implication is that one would be friendly; and, if being friendly, one would make amends and that friendship would be reciprocated). This is safe, blameless, perfect, at peace, whole, friendly. It is complete in a literal or a figurative sense.
XCIII “city” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
XCIV “Shechem” = Shekem. From the same as shekem (shoulder, neck, or some other place that bears burdens; figuratively, the spur of a hill, or one’s allotted portion); from shakam (to rise early, begin work early; properly, this is leaning one’s shoulder or back into a load or a burden; also, loading an animal for work). This is Shechem, meaning “ridge.”
XCV “land” = erets. Same as “ground” in v3. See note XXII above.
XCVI “Canaan” = Kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See

on his wayXCVII from Paddan-aram;XCVIII and he campedXCIX before the city. 

Notes on verse 18b

XCVII “on his way” = bo. Same as “coming” in v1. See note VI above.
XCVIII “Paddan-aram” = Paddan aram. 11x in OT. From pada (“to upgrade the operating standard) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense) OR from pada (see above) + aram (Aram, Syria, Mesopotamia – meaning elevated or citadel); {perhaps from armon (any fortified building – castle, citadel, palace)}. This is Paddan-aram, perhaps meaning “ultimate upgrade,” “plain of Aram,” “elevated ransom,” or “new Aramaic standard.” See
XCIX “camped” = chanah. Related to “company” in v8. See note XXXIX above.

19 And fromC the sonsCI of Hamor,CII Shechem’s father,CIII

Notes on verse 19a

C {untranslated} = yad. Same as “hand” in v10. See note LI above.
CI “sons” = ben. Related to “built” and “house” in v17. Perhaps from banah (see note LXXXV above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
CII “Hamor” = Chamor. 13x in OT. From the same as chamor (male donkey); from chamar (to be red, blush; to boil or foam, to glow red). This is Hamor or Chamor. It may mean “red one,” “male donkey,” or “rudiment.” See
CIII “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.

he boughtCIV for one hundred pieces of moneyCV the plotCVI of landCVII on which he had pitchedCVIII his tent.CIX 

Notes on verse 19b

CIV “bought” = qanah. Related to “cattle” in v17. See note LXXXIX above.
CV “pieces of money” = qesitah. 3x in OT. This is a piece – something weighed that holds value. Often, it was an amount of silver stamped to become currency.
CVI “plot” = chelqah. From cheleq (portion, catch, division, reward, share, smooth tongue, flattery, associate); from chalaq (to be smooth in a figurative sense; can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute; figuratively, it can also mean to flatter). This is smoothness. Figuratively it can mean a tract of land or other allotment or flattery.
CVII “land” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
CVIII “pitched” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
CIX “tent” = ohel. Perhaps from ahal (to shine, be clear). This is a tent, covering, home, or side pillar.

20 There he erectedCX an altarCXI and called it El-Elohe-Israel.CXII

Notes on verse 20

CX “erected” = natsab. This is to station, appoint, establish, take a stand.
CXI “altar” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.
CXII “El-Elohe-Israel” = El + Elohim + Yisrael. El is related to “God” in v5 (it is the singular form) and Elohim is the same as “God” in v5. See note XXXV above. Yisrael is From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note XXXV above). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

Image credit: “Jacob Sees Esau Coming to Meet Him” by James Tissot, circa 1896 to 1902.

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