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Thursday, August 22 2013
Genesis 33: Jacob's Peace With Esau
Jacob had been away from the land of Canaan (see Camped Out In Canaan) for over twenty years - an exile that began to escape the deadly wrath of his brother Esau (see Genesis 27: Esau's Blessing Taken By Jacob). After wearing out his welcome in the house of his uncle Laban (see Genesis 31: The Parting of Jacob and Laban), Jacob was returning home, with four wives, eleven sons and a daughter, and a new name - "Israel" (see Genesis 32: The Origin Of Israel).
As we will read, Esau's character had deepened and mellowed, while Jacob had very much the same personality as when the brothers had last known each other. Jacob's placement of his family's safety, in the order of his selfish regard for individuals, one wife over another, one child over another, is a glaring affront to what a man would do.
"33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
Esau had become a self-made success. Although rarely portrayed in the way that the Scriptures actually describe him, Esau had become wealthy, but not arrogant, powerful, but peaceful.
"33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
The wives and children, in the order that Jacob had sent them into danger, then met Esau for the first time.
"33:6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
Despite Esau's decline of the property that Jacob had offered in payment for his life ("I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself"), Jacob nevertheless rejected his brother's graciousness and insisted that Esau take what he didn't want.
"33:8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?
Esau then invited Jacob to travel with them, to, ironically, to protect his brother from danger along the way ("Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee"). Jacob refused Esau's gift of protection too - with a lie. He promised "I come unto my lord unto Seir," without any intention of doing so.
"33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
"So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir," while Jacob turned and "journeyed to Succoth." It would have become evident to Esau soon after that Jacob had deceived him, again. This time however, Esau did nothing, except perhaps to feel a little sorry for Jacob.
"33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. 33:17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
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This Day In History, August 22
392: Flavius Arbogastes (popularly known as Arbogast), a Frankish general in the Roman Empire, had Eugenius elected Emperor of the Western Roman Empire (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).
476: The barbarian Odoacer was proclaimed Rex Italiae ("the king of Italy") by his troops.
565: Columba, a prominent Irish monk of the Church of Rome, reported seeing a monster in Loch Ness - one of the earliest of such recorded sightings.
1138: The English battled the Scots at Cowton Moor. Banners of various supposed "saints" were carried into battle, which led to its being called the Battle of the Standard.
1350: John II, also known as John the Good, succeeded Philip VI as king of France.
1485: Richard III of England was defeated and killed at The Battle of Bosworth Field, the last of the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York.
1567: The Duke of Alba, sent to re-establish Spanish authority in the Netherlands, instituted the Council of Troubles at the start of his tyrannical rule. It was nicknamed the "Council of Blood."
1642: The Civil War in England began between the supporters of Charles I ("Royalists" or "Cavaliers") and of Parliament ("Roundheads").
1780: James Cook's ship HMS Resolution arrived back in England. Cook was killed at Hawaii during the voyage.
1846: The U.S. annexed (a political term meaning "take by conquest; as of territory") New Mexico from Mexico.
1864: The Geneva Convention for the protection of the wounded during times of active warfare was signed, leading to the formation of the Red Cross.
1910: Korea was annexed by Japan after five years as a protectorate.
1922: Irish politician and Sinn Fein leader Michael Collins was killed in an ambush. He was largely responsible for the 1921 Anglo-Irish treaty.
1939: Foreign ministers Molotov of Russia and Ribbentrop of Germany signed a non-aggression pact which paved the way for the German invasion of western Poland and for Russia to take eastern Poland and the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Germany and Russia soon thereafter declared war on each other.
1941: Nazi troops reached the outskirts of Leningrad. They eventually surrounded the city on September 8 at the start of the siege which lasted until January 1944.
1942: Brazil declared war on the Axis powers. It is the only South American country to send combat troops into Europe during the Second World War.
1944: German officer Heinz Stahlschmidt deliberately blew up a bunker full of detonators, effectively preventing the planned destruction of Bordeaux by his own retreating German army.
1952: The French penal colony on Devil's Island (located approximately 14 kilometers off the coast of French Guiana in South America) was permanently closed.
1968: Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit Latin America, in Colombia.
1971: Bolivian President General Juan Jose Torres Gonzalez was deposed in a coup by Colonel Hugo Banzer Suarez.
2003: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended after refusing a federal court order to remove a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court building (see also Turning The Tables to understand what the Ten Commandments actually looked like).