6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
Jacob received an update from his messengers, and it did not sound promising. Esau was coming with four hundred men, an army, more than enough to kill Jacob and his entire household. And this isn’t all. Apparently, Esau did not provide Jacob’s messengers with any response that might set his brother at ease. He set out with unspoken intent, leaving Jacob to assume the worst.
In this dire situation Jacob came to a most heart-wrenching solution. He would divide his camp in two, so that if Esau came with violence half of the camp could try to flee as the other was consumed. This would mean saving half of his home, but only at the sacrifice of the other. At least in that case he wouldn’t have to decide which would be the surviving half, chance would decide that for him.