Connecting to the Larger Story
Jacob was returning home to meet his brother Esau whom he wronged so many years before. He remembered the anger Esau had against him and the threat he made against his life when Jacob stole his blessing and inheritance. So Jacob sent flock after flock of livestock as a gift to appease his brother's anger. He is worried that Esau may still seek to kill him and his family so he makes plans to save at least part of his family should the reunion turn violent.
Important to Note
1) Jacob is careful to divide up his family so that at least some of them have the possibility to escape if Esau should seek to kill them. He goes out ahead of them to give them time to flee if things go poorly. He is obviously worried about seeing Esau again. Esau, on the other hand, is far from being angry and instead cries tears of joy at the sight of his brother as he runs to greet and hug him. Jacob has held onto the wrongs he has done against Esau in the past while Esau himself has left them in the past through forgiveness.
2) Esau asks about all of the gifts that Jacob sent ahead of himself. While he did not receive the special blessing from their father Isaac, Esau has done well for himself and says he has no need for these gifts from Jacob. It would appear that he has been blessed by God at least after all. Only after Jacob insists on his taking them does Esau relent and accept the gift.
Thoughts for Reflection
1) Why do you think that Jacob seems to remember the wrongs he committed more than the brother he wronged does?
2) Why does Jacob insist on Esau accepting the gift? How do you think he feels about the grace of forgiveness that his brother has offered?