3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
3 He led the way and, as he approached his brother, bowed seven times, honoring his brother.
3 Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him.
Matthew Henry's Commentary on Genesis 33:3
Commentary on Genesis 33:1-16
(Read Genesis 33:1-16)
Jacob, having by prayer committed his case to God, went on his way. Come what will, nothing can come amiss to him whose heart is fixed, trusting in God. Jacob bowed to Esau. A humble, submissive behaviour goes far towards turning away wrath. Esau embraced Jacob. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases. It is not in vain to trust in God, and to call upon him in the day of trouble. And when a man's ways please the Lord he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Esau receives Jacob as a brother, and much tenderness passes between them. Esau asks, Who are those with thee? To this common question, Jacob spoke like himself, like a man whose eyes are ever directed towards the Lord. Jacob urged Esau, though his fear was over, and he took his present. It is well when men's religion makes them generous, free-hearted, and open-handed. But Jacob declined Esau's offer to accompany him. It is not desirable to be too intimate with superior ungodly relations, who will expect us to join in their vanities, or at least to wink at them, though they blame, and perhaps mock at, our religion. Such will either be a snare to us, or offended with us. We shall venture the loss of all things, rather than endanger our souls, if we know their value; rather than renounce Christ, if we truly love him. And let Jacob's care and tender attention to his family and flocks remind us of the good Shepherd of our souls, who gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young, Isaiah 40:11. As parents, teachers or pastors, we should all follow his example.