Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A gift turns away wrath

“The Hebrew word מנחה [MNHH](‘gift’) is highly significant, appearing here for the first time since it was used in the narrative of Cain and Abel (32:14[13], 19[18], 21[20], 22[21]; 33:10; see 4:3, 4, 5). Whereas Cain’s and Abel’s gifts to God led eventually to a rage-filled murder, Jacob’s gifts to Esau serve the opposite purpose, preventing fratricide. It is clear that Jacob has robbed Esau of what was rightfully the older brother’s. Now, in an act of significant sacrifice, Jacob offers Esau something akin to reparations. Jacob specifically commands Esau to take his ברכה [BRKH] (‘blessing’, 33:11), the very thing that he stole from Esau in Genesis 27. Jacob shows that he is no longer someone who steals from Esau but someone who gives to Esau. This act of generosity alters Esau’s perception of Jacob and of past wrongdoings, facilitating an alleviation of Esau’s prolonged anger. Esau sees that Jacob has changed.”—From Fratricide to Forgiveness, page 167

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