Saturday, January 02, 2010

Jacob’s Family Gets Introduced to Esau -- Genesis 33:6-7

Then the maids came near with their children, and they bowed down. And Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down.

After Esau had learned about Jacob’s family, they each came forward and were introduced to him. Notice the specific order that was involved. It appears to be in the order of least importance to Jacob. First it was the two maids of Leah and Rachel along with the children they had borne to Jacob. Leah and her children followed that group. And the last group to be introduced was Rachel and the only child she had given Jacob to this point, Joseph. Each came near to Esau and they bowed down to him out of respect.

It is also interesting to note that the text says that “Joseph came near with Rachel” rather than “Rachel brought Joseph near”. Is it possible that Joseph, the youngest of the family at the time was indeed the most eager to see the reconciliation? Is it possible that he exhibited the desired attitude the most out of all of Jacob’s family? Did he best understand his father’s desire? God has an incredible way of showing us older ones what He expects of us through the lives and examples of our younger children. The other day I was sitting at a meal with a family where one member was definitely estranged to that family. One of the children, a six-year-old girl innocently said, “When will we ever see her? It’s been way too long.” How true. Perhaps Joseph’s eagerness to bow down to his uncle Esau was saying just that, “It’s been way too long.”

There is also another aspect to reconciliation that is not directly mentioned here but worth noting as we study this topic. Reconciliation is often a family matter just as feuds between two individuals often end up engulfing both the families involved. In my life, I have been personally aware of several family feuds where there is at least one individual that is a holdout. He or she does not want to have anything to do with reconciliation, even if he/she was not the injured party. This sometimes occurs because of that person’s love for the one that was injured. They just cannot understand why, or accept the fact that, the hurt individual has agreed to forgive and forget. As difficult as that may make it for the rest of the family, we all need to accept this individual’s decision and be careful not to further isolate him/her from the rest of the clan he/she does have a relationship with. With our patience and love, we may still win them over to the reconciliation.

Sometimes, we ourselves may be that individual who wants to hold back. If so, we need to examine our motivation and the implications of our decision on the parties being reconciled, on our own family, especially the model it presents to our children, and ultimately on ourselves. We need to ask God to help us change our attitude and accept the very thing that He desires for all mankind – to live in peace with each other, especially those in our own family.

Clearly, in the case of Jacob and Esau, all Jacob’s family members were at least willing to support him in his desire to be at peace with his brother.

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