1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 

2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

At long last the moment of reckoning has come for Jacob. He sees Esau and his men, which presumably means that they have also seen him, meaning it would be too late to run away. Jacob sets himself ahead of his family, and as he comes to Esau he bows seven times, a final gesture to show his immense reverence and respect. It truly is hard to think what more he could have done to appease any lingering wrath in Esau.

And then…Jacob finds out that all his fear was unnecessary. Esau runs forward, embraces his brother, and kisses him. He has no intention of causing harm to Jacob, rather he is moved to tears by being reunited after these long twenty years!

All of Jacob’s preparation may not have been necessary for his survival, but I do not think it was a wasted effort. Abraham’s preparation to sacrifice Isaac ended up not being necessary either, but the exercise was still essential in how it revealed Abraham to himself. So, too, I imagine that Jacob had a far greater understanding of what he was made of for having passed through this trial. And, like Abraham, he had learned that with God as His shepherd, things would work themselves out.

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