“Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, ‘Thus you shall say to my lord Esau. Thus says your servant Jacob, `I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.'”
Jacob sent messengers to Esau who was in Seir in the land of Edom. He instructed them to tell Esau that he had been an alien with Laban but now he had wealth with oxen, donkeys, and slaves, asking for favor in his sight.
“The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’ Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, thinking, ‘If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company, which is left, will escape.’”
However, they returned to say that Esau was coming to meet Jacob with 400 men. Jacob was ‘distressed’ and decided to split up into two separate groups.
“Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, Yahweh who said to me, `Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness which you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan. Now I have become two companies. Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him. He may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. Yet you have said, `I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.'”
Jacob prayed to the God of his fathers to say that he was not worthy of God’s love. He had left the Jordan area with just a staff and now he has two companies. However, he asked to be delivered from his brother who was coming to kill him because God said the he would be with him.
“So he spent the night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, ‘Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.’ He instructed the foremost, ‘When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘to whom do you belong? Where are you going? Whose are these before you?’ Then you shall say, `They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. Moreover he is behind us.’ He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, ‘You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. You shall say, `Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’ For he thought, ‘I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.’ So the presents went on ahead of him. He himself spent that night in the camp.”
Then Jacob decided to send a gift to his brother Esau: 200 female and 20 male goats, 200 ewes and 20 rams, 30 milking camels and their colts, 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female and 10 male donkeys. Wow, this was quite a herd. If these were the gifts for Esau, imagine what he kept for himself. The servants took this gifted herd first with Jacob behind them. Jacob instructed them to say that this is a present for you, Esau, and that Jacob was behind them. Jacob thought that this great present might appease Esau and make Esau welcome him.