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I am having troubles understanding the Bible, could you please explain Genesis 33: 14-16?

Dear Danika,

It’s important to read the context of a scripture that you can’t understand. Usually that will help you to understand it.

The text that you mention, Genesis 33:14-16, is the final verses of a story that begins in Genesis 25. It’s a fascinating story, and explains many things about Jacob, the son of Isaac. Read the following texts and it will fill you in on the story. It may seem like a lot of reading, but it will be well worth your time.

Gen. 25:22-34; Gen 27:1-46; Gen. 28:1-5; Gen. 32:1-31; Gen 33:1-16

The story, briefly, is this:

Isaac, the son of Abraham, had a wife named Rebekah, who has been unable to have children for 40 years. By this time Isaac was over 100 years old. Isaac prays to God, and He gives his wife twins—Esau and Jacob. When they were born, Jacob had his hand clasping Esau’s heal, so Rebekah called him “Jacob,” which in their language meant “supplanter,” because he seemed to want to take Esau’s place.

After they were grown, Esau, who liked to go hunting, came home very hungry one day. Jacob had been making a lentil stew, and Esau wanted some. Jacob, the supplanter, bargained with him, and Esau traded his birthright for a cup of stew! The birthright meant that, upon Isaac’s death, Esau would receive a double portion of Isaac’s goods, become the head of the family, and would become the religious leader of the family. Jacob wanted to be the religious leader, while Esau couldn’t care less about that part of the birthright.

Later Jacob lied to his blind father, and took Esau’s blessing. Esau wanted to kill him for it.

So Jacob fled to a place called Padanaram, where Rebekah’s family lived. Jacob found Rebekah’s family, fell in love with Rachel, and worked for Rebekah’s brother for 7 years for his daughter Rachel. But he was outsmarted by Rachel’s father, Laban, and was given her elder sister Leah instead. Jacob was furious, but Laban gave him Rachel for another 7 years of work. Jacob worked for 6 more years and built up a good size heard of sheep and cattle (the story is fascinating; you might want to read it all!)

On Jacob’s way back to Canaan, the place where his parents lived, he heard that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. He thought his brother would at last kill him. He separated his families (by now he had two more wives—[I can’t understand that either!]) so that Esau wouldn’t see them all at once and kill them all. In this way, perhaps, some of them might escape.

Jacob realized that his life hadn’t been right and felt convicted that he should pray. He prayed a good part of the night when a hand gripped his shoulder. He wrestled with the One who turns out to be God, and God blessed him, even though He put Jacob’s hip out of joint. Because Jacob had repented, God gave him a new name: Israel, because he had wrestled with God and been a victor.

The next day Jacob sent presents to Esau of several herds of sheep, etc. When he met his brother, they hugged each other. That brings us to your verses:

Esau offered to go with Jacob and protect him. Jacob is speaking to Esau in these verses:

Gen 33:14-16  Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly [slowly], according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he [Jacob] said, What needeth it? Let me find grace in the sight of my lord.  So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir (the country where Esau lived).

So these verses paint a picture of two brothers making up for the quarrel they had had years before.
Be sure to read the whole story, as it will become a story that you’ll never forget. How much better it would have been if Jacob had not tried to supplant his brother, but treated him kindly and allowed God to take care of the problem.

Reading the Bible is very important to the Christian. It would be difficult to maintain a saving relationship with God without it. And learning about God and His requirements for us would be nearly impossible without some connection with God’s Holy Word.

Actually, if we watch for Him, we’ll find Jesus Christ in almost every passage of the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes He’s known as the Creator (cf. John 1:1-4, 10, 14); sometimes He’s known as “the Angel of the LORD” (Ex. 3:1-14; cf. John 8:56-58); sometimes He’s known as the “servant” (Isa. 52:13-53:12); and sometimes as the Messiah. In this story Jesus is the One who fought with Jacob. Often He’s behind the scenes, working through those who live according to His will.

If you have difficulty understanding the Bible, there are many aids available to help you do this, (see list below). But above all, read your Bible for yourself, and pray that God will help you understand it. Check out with other Bible questions you may have.

Stay close to Jesus.
Thurman C. Petty, Jr.
Check out my web site, (43 Bible lessons; 20 Books; more)

Sources of Bible study aids and answers for your questions.
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Thurman C. Petty, Jr.


I`ve been a Pastor and Bible teacher for 40 years.


I`m a writer--author of 18 Bible-based books and over 200 journal articles. Web site: where a lot of my books and writings are posted. I've been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years. We're more in love now than when we married. My wife and I were missionaries to Pitcairn Island, in the South Pacific, from 1982-1984.

I've been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since the age of 9.

Books: Pacific Press Publishing Association; PettyPress. Number of titles published: 16. Journal Articles: Adventist Review; Signs of the Times; Guide Magazine; Ministry: A Journal for Clergy; Sabbath School Leadership; The Youth's Instructor; Student Movement; Cord, and others. Total Journal articles: over 200. Web Site: Contents: 18 of my books; 41 Bible study guides; over 30 sermons; Stories; poems; links to other sites, etc. E-mail address:

I have a BA and a Master`s degree--both degrees are in Biblical studies.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded the "Golden Cord" from my Alma Mater, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, for my foreign mission service.

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