Genesis 33:17 MEANING

Genesis 33:17

(17) Succoth.--That is, booths. There are two claimants for identification with Jacob's Succoth, of which the one is in the tribe of Gad, on the east of the Jordan, in the corner formed by that river and the Jabbok; the other is the place still called Sak-t, on the west of the Jordan, but as it lies ten miles to the north. of the junction of the Jordan and Jabbok, it is not likely that Jacob would go so far out of his way.

Jacob . . . built him an house, and made booths for his cattle.--This is something quite unusual, as the cattle in Palestine remain in the open air all the year round, and the fact that the place retained the name of the booths shows that it was noticed as remarkable. But the fact, coupled with the right translation of Genesis 33:18, is a strong but undesigned testimony to the truth of the narrative. Jacob had been pursued by Laban, and suffered much from anxiety and the labour attendant upon the hurried removal of so large a household. Delivered from danger in the rear, he has to face a greater danger in front, and passes many days and nights in terror. At last Esau is close at hand, and having done all that man could do, he stays behind to recover himself, and prepare for the dreaded meeting next day. But instead of a few calm restful hours he has to wrestle fiercely all night, and when at sunrise he moves. forward he finds that he has sprained his hip. He gets through the interview with Esan with much feeling, agitated alternately by fear, and hope, and joy, enduring all the while his bodily pain as best he can, and then, delivered from all danger, he breaks down. The word "journeyed" simply means that he broke up his camp from the high ground where he had met his brother, and went into the corner close by, where the two rivers would both protect him and provide his cattle with water and herbage. And there he not only put up some protection, probably wattled enclosures made with branches of trees, for his cattle, but built a house for himself--something, that is, more solid than a tent: and there he lay until he was healed of his lameness. The strained sinew would require some months of perfect rest before Jacob could move about; but it was healed, for "Jacob came whole and sound to the city of Shechem." (See next verse.)

33:17-20 Jacob did not content himself with words of thanks for God's favour to him, but gave real thanks. Also he kept up religion, and the worship of God in his family. Where we have a tent, God must have an altar. Jacob dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel; to the honour of God, the only living and true God; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Israel's God is Israel's glory. Blessed be his name, he is still the mighty God, the God of Israel. May we praise his name, and rejoice in his love, through our pilgrimage here on earth, and for ever in the heavenly Canaan.And Jacob journeyed to Succoth,.... Perhaps after he had been at Seir, and stayed there some little time. Succoth was on the other side of Jordan, so called by anticipation, for it had its name from what follows; as yet there was no city built here, or at least of this name; afterwards there was, it lay in a valley, and belonged to Sihon king of Heshbon, and was given to the tribe of Gad, Joshua 13:27; it is mentioned along with Penuel, and was not far from it, Judges 8:8. It is said to be but two miles distant from it (u), but one would think it should be more:

and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle; an house for himself and family, and booths or tents for his servants or shepherds, and for the cattle they had the care of, some for one, and some for the other. This he did with an intention to stay some time here, as it should seem; and the Targum of Jonathan says he continued here a whole year, and Jarchi eighteen months, a winter and two summers; but this is all uncertain:

therefore the name of the place is called Succoth; from the booths or tents built here, which this word signifies.

(u) Bunting's Travels, p. 72.

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