a. Final preparation. “Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him.” Jacob sees from far off that Esau was coming with the four hundred men. Esau does not come under the cover of darkness, nor does he lie in ambush but approaches by day in full view. As Esau makes his way toward them Jacob goes to his family and divides his family according to the mothers. I find it interesting how he arranges them which is a foreshadowing of what is to come. Jacob takes Bilhah and Zilpah and their children and puts them in front, followed by Leah and her children and finally Rachel and Joseph. He does not arrange his sons by birth order but according to his affection towards their mothers. Joseph is the last son to be brought forward but he is also the most favored by Jacob as we will see in chapter 37. Now with his family ready to be presented to Esau, Jacob steps forward. b. Bowing seven times. As Jacob walks toward Esau, he bows seven times. From archaeological research, we have found this act of bowing seven times as a common way of greeting a tribal king. This is the way that you would greet a superior. Now Esau is the older son by minutes and according to the law of primogeniture, would be deserving of Jacob’s respect. However, we must remember the context. If you turn back to Genesis 25:23 the LORD told Rebekah that, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” Then flip forward to Genesis 27:29. “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.” Jacob by the word of God and the blessing of Isaac and the promise of God is to rule over Esau. And yet he bows before his brother. Perhaps he is following the old proverb, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Instead of provoking those that are his enemies, Jacob has learned to show respect and honor to those who have opposed him. This he learned in the 20 years with his uncle. Matthew Henry said, “Many preserve themselves by humbling themselves: the bullet flies over him that stoops.” By twenty years of servitude, God had taught Jacob that those that humble themselves God will exult. Many years later Jesus will also teach this same lesson to his disciples. When the mother of the sons of Zebedee come and ask Jesus to allow her sons to sit at his left and right hand, he concludes his reply by saying, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” As Christians, we humble ourselves before God and others and allow God to lift us up.