Monday, January 04, 2010

Esau Enquires as to the Purpose of Jacob’s Gifts -- Genesis 33:8


And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, "To find favor in the sight of my lord."

Jacob and Esau have reconciled, Jacob’s family has honored Esau, and now it is time for Esau to address the issue of all the gifts that Jacob had sent ahead to meet him. He simply asks Jacob, “What is the purpose of all this?” I do not for a moment believe that Esau did not know the answer to his question. Yet, he asked it. He wanted to hear the answer from Jacob’s own mouth and Jacob tells him the truth. “Esau, I wanted to find favor in your sight.”

Gifts are not always received or given as tokens of love or caring or admiration. Being Greek, I am familiar with the English expression that says, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” It simply means, “Do not trust your enemies” and it originated with the story of the Trojan horse. This you will remember was the very large wooden gift that the Greeks gave to their enemies the Trojans as a peace offering. The problem was that inside of it were hidden hundreds of Greek warriors that would attack Troy by surprise once the horse was brought into the city and past the wall that surrounded it.

Being a husband, I am also familiar with the response of either my wife or my daughters upon giving my spouse an unexpected gift. That usually comes in the form of “Okay, now what do you want?” or “Dad, are you in the dog house again?” I am sure some of you readers can identify with that.

But here is the key thought from this verse for me. There are times when we, as givers of gifts, need to simply tell the truth. “This gift to you is because I want to receive favor in your sight.” There’s nothing wrong with saying that. If that is indeed the truth we do not need to hide it. “Darling, I got you these flowers on this ordinary day because I want to receive your favor. I need you and I love you.”

And although we will discuss it at greater length below, let me say that there are times when we, as receivers of gifts, need to simply accept that truth. In the passage that follows we will learn of Esau’s response to Jacob’s honesty.

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