Genesis 32:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 32:4, NIV: "He instructed them: 'This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: 'Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now."

Genesis 32:4, ESV: "instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now."

Genesis 32:4, KJV: "And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:"

Genesis 32:4, NASB: "He commanded them, saying, 'This is what you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says the following: 'I have resided with Laban, and stayed until now;"

Genesis 32:4, NLT: "He told them, 'Give this message to my master Esau: 'Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban,"

Genesis 32:4, CSB: "He commanded them, "You are to say to my lord Esau, 'This is what your servant Jacob says. I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed until now."

What does Genesis 32:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

To return home, Jacob and his large company must pass near the region where his brother Esau lives. Does Esau still want to kill Jacob for taking his birthright and blessing? The threat was dire twenty years ago (Genesis 27:41–45), and nothing has happened since then to imply that the two men have been in contact.

In a show of good faith, Jacob sends messengers to Esau before moving through the land. He tells his messengers to tell Esau that he has been living with Laban, in Haran, for the last 20 years since he left home. Jacob's message pointedly refers to his brother as "my lord Esau" and refers to himself as Esau's servant. This indicates Jacob's deference, respect and, likely, his great fear of his brother. This does not imply that Jacob mistakes his actual authority: though he was the younger, he held the birthright and the blessing. In addition, two separate prophesies declared that Esau would serve Jacob (Genesis 25:23; 27:40).

Jacob, though, would not risk claiming authority over his brother for the moment. A person can be right, and still suffer the consequences of acting foolishly, especially if the other person's mind is set on revenge.