6 And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.

7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.

8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

A couple days ago I mentioned that Esau and Jacob seemed to have minimal interaction after they were reunited in Canaan and now we know why: Esau left. Like Abraham and Lot, the land was not enough to support both of their households, and one of them had to pass over to the other side. And like Abraham, Jacob was the one that kept with Canaan, while Esau went elsewhere.

The two men’s decision of where to live perfectly echoes their preferences specified back in Genesis 25:27. Jacob was always a man of the plains, content to stay put for extended periods of time, while Esau was a wandering hunter. It seems the two men were destined to live as two separate halves. When they were young and forced to share the same space that disparity was likely one of their points of friction, but now that they were grown men they were able to resolve the matter with sufficient space. Like the parting between Jacob and Laban, sometimes the best way to keep the peace is to know when to step apart.

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