Verse

Genesis 32:16

ESV These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.”
NIV He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, 'Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.'
NASB Then he placed them in the care of his servants, every flock by itself, and said to his servants, 'Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between flocks.'
CSB He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, "Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds."
NLT He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, 'Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.'
KJV And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

What does Genesis 32:16 mean?

Jacob has prepared an enormous gift for his approaching brother Esau (Genesis 32:6). This is being done in hopes of cooling Esau's wrath for what Jacob did to him 20 years earlier (Genesis 27:30–35; 27:41–45). The offering includes 550 animals—males, females, and calves. In this time and place, living animals were a major commodity. They provided food, work, growth to families living in this region. This makes Jacob's enormous gift more than just a symbol. This is an act endowing Esau with a considerable amount of Jacob's personal fortune.

Jacob's strategy includes sending these animals out with servants to meet Esau before Esau's party of 400 men reaches him. Specifically, his servants were to deliver the herds to Esau one at a time, in five distinct groupings of goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys. Jacob tells them to keep some space between each herd as they went toward Esau and his men. This, again, shows Jacob's mastery of manipulation. Each additional gift would magnify how magnificent these presents are.
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