Genesis 32:13
And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
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(13) He lodged there.—That is, at Mahanaim. On the first news of Esau’s approach in so hostile a manner, Jacob had divided his possessions into two main divisions, in the hope of saving at least one. He now, quieted by his prayer, makes more exact arrangements, selects a present for Esau of five hundred and fifty head of cattle, sends them forward with intervals between, that repeated impressions might soften his brother’s fierce mood, sees all his followers safely across the Jabbok, and remains alone behind to pray. As he thus placed everything in Esau’s power, faith seems to have regained the ascendancy over his fears, though he still takes every prudent measure for the safety of those whom he loved.

Of that which came to his hand.—Heb., of that which came in his hand. Some Jewish interpreters take the phrase literally, and suppose that it was precious stones; more truly it means “what he possessed,” or what he had with him. The phrase “which came to his hand” would imply that he made no selection, but took what came first in his way.

Genesis 32:13-16. A present for Esau his brother — As he prays and trusts in God, so he uses the means; and having piously made God his friend by prayer, prudently endeavours to make Esau his friend by a present. Put a space between drove and drove — To mitigate his displeasure by degrees.

32:9-23 Times of fear should be times of prayer: whatever causes fear, should drive us to our knees, to our God. Jacob had lately seen his guards of angels, but in this distress he applied to God, not to them; he knew they were his fellow-servants, Re 22:9. There cannot be a better pattern for true prayer than this. Here is a thankful acknowledgement of former undeserved favours; a humble confession of unworthiness; a plain statement of his fears and distress; a full reference of the whole affair to the Lord, and resting all his hopes on him. The best we can say to God in prayer, is what he has said to us. Thus he made the name of the Lord his strong tower, and could not but be safe. Jacob's fear did not make him sink into despair, nor did his prayer make him presume upon God's mercy, without the use of means. God answers prayers by teaching us to order our affairs aright. To pacify Esau, Jacob sent him a present. We must not despair of reconciling ourselves to those most angry against us.Next, he betakes himself to prayer. He appeals to the God of Abraham and Isaac, to Yahweh the God of promise and performance. "I am less than;" unworthy of all the mercy and truth of God. "With my staff." Jacob seems to have left his home without escort and without means. It was evidently intended that he should return in a short time; but unforeseen circumstances lengthened the period. "Me, the mother with the children." Me is used here in that pregnant sense which is familiar in Scripture, to include his whole clan; as Ishmael, Israel, Edom, often stand for their respective races. He then pleads the express promise of God Genesis 28:13-15; Genesis 31:3.13-23. took … a present for Esau—Jacob combined active exertions with earnest prayer; and this teaches us that we must not depend upon the aid and interposition of God in such a way as to supersede the exercise of prudence and foresight. Superiors are always approached with presents, and the respect expressed is estimated by the quality and amount of the gift. The present of Jacob consisted of five hundred fifty head of cattle, of different kinds, such as would be most prized by Esau. It was a most magnificent present, skilfully arranged and proportioned. The milch camels alone were of immense value; for the she camels form the principal part of Arab wealth; their milk is a chief article of diet; and in many other respects they are of the greatest use. Either that which was in his hand and power; or rather, that which was nearest at hand, and most ready for him, because the approaching night, and his own great fear, gave him not leave to make so scrupulous a choice as otherwise he would have made.

And he lodged there that same night,.... At Mahanaim, or some place near it:

and took of that which came to his hand; not what came next to hand, for what he did was with great deliberation, judgment, and prudence; wherefore the phrase signifies what he was possessed of, or was in his power, as Jarchi rightly interprets it:

a present for Esau his brother: in order to pacify him, gain his good will, and avert his wrath and displeasure, see Proverbs 18:16; though Jacob had prayed to God, committed himself and family to him, and left all with him, yet he thought it proper to make use of all prudential means and methods for his safety: God frequently works in and by means made use of: the account of the present follows.

And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a {f} present for Esau his brother;

(f) Not distrusting God's assistance, but using such means as God had given him.

13–21. Jacob’s Present to Esau

13. a present] Heb. minḥah. Cf. Genesis 43:11; Genesis 43:15. See note on Genesis 4:3. Jacob hopes that a substantial present will turn away the resentment of his brother. Proverbs 18:16, “a man’s gift maketh room for him”; Genesis 21:14, “a gift in secret pacifieth anger”; cf. Abigail’s present to David, 1 Samuel 25:18; 1 Samuel 25:27.

Verse 13. - And he lodged there that same night; and took - not by random, but after careful selection; separavit (Vulgate) - of that which came to his hand - not of those things which were in his hand, ω΅ν ἔφερεν (LXX.), such as he had (Ainsworth), quae in mann erant (Rosenmüller), but of such things as had come into his hand, i.e. as he had acquired (Keil, Alford, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis) - a present (Minchah; used in Genesis 4:3, 4, 5, as a sacrifice to Jehovah, q.v.) for Esau his brother. Genesis 32:13"For I am in fear of him, that (פּן ne) he come and smite me, mother with children." בּנים על אם is a proverbial expression for unsparing cruelty, taken from the bird which covers its young to protect them (Deuteronomy 22:6, cf. Hosea 10:14). על super, una cum, as in Exodus 35:22.
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