1. Notes: After the birth of Rachel’s son Joseph, Jacob prepares to return to the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants—including Jacob. Once free from his father in law (who did not want to let him go), Jacob has another problem to deal with—a big, strong hairy one named Esau. Last we heard of Esau, he wanted to kill his brother Jacob. And, now he is returning home to see him!
2. Read 32: 1-2
a. As his journey home begins, Jacob has a vision of angels. Why did God send angels to Jacob?
3. Read 32 :3-8
a. Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to announce to Esau that Jacob is coming home! Esau and about 400 men ride out to meet him.
i. Why is Jacob so afraid? Do you think he has a guilty conscience? Or?
4. Read 32: 9-12
a. Jacob prays. Why does he pray? What does he want?
i. He asks for God’s protection as he reminds God of God’s promise (just in case God forgot).
ii. Does he confess his sins?
5. Read 32: 13-21
a. The journey home takes some time, so Jacob has time to make some plans—just in case God doesn’t answer the prayer.
i. What plans does he make?
1. He divides his household into two, so that if Esau attacks at least half of the family will survive!
2. He sends a series of gifts accompanied by a message that is intended to soften Esau’s heart.
b. Has there been a time in your life when someone you trusted did something that hurt you?
i. When someone hurts you, what do you want from the person?
1. Restitution? And apology? What?
ii. When someone hurts you, what do you NEED from the person in order to forgive?
1. What is forgiveness? To forgive someone is to release the person from the judgment he/she is owed! At any time a person can choose to forgive, whether there has been an apology/restitution or not. It only takes one person to forgive—you!
2. Jacob never asks Esau for forgiveness—instead he offers gifts—restitution—with the hope that the gifts will be sufficient for Esau to forgive.
6. Read 32:22-31
a. Jacob is afraid to see his brothers face—for fear that he will die. But, there is a face far more dangerous than that of his brother—the face of God.
i. Jacob wrestles with a heavenly being. He thinks he is winning, only for the heavenly being to simply touch him and his hip was dislocated. All Jacob could do was hang on and ask for a word of life, lest he die. And, he gets it—he is given a new name, a new identity! No longer is he Jacob (the scoundrel), now he is Israel—the one who wrestled with God and lived to tell about it!
7. Read 33:1-7
a. Has Esau forgiven Jacob? How would you describe Esau at this point in the story?
i. What does forgiveness allow us to do?
8. Read 33:8-11
a. Esau does not want to keep the gifts—it seems as though seeing his brother is enough. But, Jacob insists on Esau keeping the gifts as he says “since you have received me with such favor”. This is as close as Jacob comes to apologizing—telling his brother that he knows Esau had reason to have treated him differently—and, he is grateful. Just as God had let Jacob live the night before, Esau lets Jacob live now—“seeing your face is like seeing the face of God!
9. Read 33: 9-16
a. What is reconciliation? How is forgiveness related to reconciliation?
i. The injured person must forgive in order for reconciliation to become possible. Esau forgave Jacob, so reconciliation becomes possible.
1. Reconciliation creates a new relationship. It is not simply returning to the way things used to be—because the way things used to be didn’t work out so well. It is promising to move forward in a new way—together!
2. I picture a football field when I think of reconciliation. We tend to think reconciliation needs to happen somewhere near the 50 yard line in order for justice to be served. But, when we think of our reconciliation with God through Christ, where on the football field does the reconciliation take place?
a. Does this say anything to us about how we live our lives?
3. Esau, the injured party makes the first move toward reconciliation, inviting Jacob to travel along with him And, at this point, what do we expect will happen?
a. Even though Jacob has good reason to not travel along side of his brother, we expect that he will make his way toward Seir, as he indicates.
10. Read 33:17-20
a. What does Jacob do?
i. Why doesn’t he go?
1. He is still afraid and doesn’t believe they have truly reconciled? Or, he hasn’t really changed all that much? What do you think?
11. Read 34:1-31
a. What do you make of this story?
i. Although this story pre-dates the law, in later generations what would the law require to be done?
1. If the rapist were a Jew he would have to pay the girl’s father whatever the father asked and then he would have to marry the girl. In this story, avenging the dishonor takes priority over restitution.
a. Why is it that these particular sons are the ones who avenge Dinah?
i. They are her full brothers, which gives them responsibility concerning her.
ii. What seems to be Jacobs’s first concern? What is the boy’s first concern?
iii. What is the reason for the people of Shechem to go through circumcision?
1. They are willing to endure the pain in order to gain more wealth.
iv. What is the reason Jacob’s family asks them to be circumcised?