What I love about interacting with other believers online or otherwise is the variety of opinions I’m exposed to.
Just when I have my mind set on a certain interpretation of a given Scriptural event, a different viewpoint will be thrown my way and I’ll be darned if their reasoning doesn’t make quite good sense.
I just got finished writing about Jacob’s 20 year reunion with his brother Esau and the interpretation I offered up came from the following quote (the bolded underlined parts represent the position I took):
“But in the brother’s fateful meeting, all is suddenly changed and hardly because of the gift that Jacob brings, for Esau is a wealthy man in his own right. The reconciliation occurs because it is Israel, not Jacob whom Esau meets, and Jacob is a new man who asks for forgiveness, of not in words then in manner, who limps toward him with a repentant air and not deceitful arrogance. He is not a man to be put to the sword, he is a man who can be loved as a brother. The essentially simple and uncomplicated Esau,who himself has matured, senses this at once and runs to kiss his newly found brother. The two are now at peace and Jacob-Israel who has no further need to flee from Esau’s wrath settles down and builds a house.” -Taken from page 222, THE TORAH-A Modern Commentary-Edited by W. Gunther Plaut, Union of American Hebrew Congregations
However, on the other side of the fence, there are those that maintain Esau harbored thoughts of bitterness throughout the long 20 years of separation and actually had vengeance on his mind when he approached Jacob with what some would say was “a kiss of death“. (This kind of reminds me of Judas kissing Yeshua. Am I seeing a pattern here?)
So what would be the evidence for Esau’s ulterior motives?
Well, interestingly, notice that Esau urged Jacob and his clan to come and join him in the land of Edom.
In response, Jacob refused.
Next, notice that Esau offered to leave an armed escort with Jacob to serve as “protection”.
Jacob refused again.
So was Esau really plotting to kill Jacob?
And did Jacob sense this?
I really can’t say for sure.
The Midrash offers up both interpretations.
Personally, I want to believe that the “time heals all wounds” adage would apply here and that God used this period of separation to heal the broken hearts and bring about forgiveness between these two men.
Nevertheless, it is true that the descendants of Esau and Jacob/Israel war against each other to this very day.
So in this sense I don’t think it can be said that true reconciliation has occurred.
It is also very apparent through Jacob’s actions that he had no intention of following Esau into Edom.
It was here that Jacob’s cunning served him well, because he implied to Esau that indeed he and his family were going to join him in Edom.
However, once Esau and his men left, Jacob turned and headed in another direction.
He stopped at a place he named Succoth (“booths” or “huts”) where he would stay for a couple of years.