Genesis 32:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 32:6, NIV: "When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, 'We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.'"

Genesis 32:6, ESV: "And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.”"

Genesis 32:6, KJV: "And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him."

Genesis 32:6, NASB: "And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.'"

Genesis 32:6, NLT: "After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, 'We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you--with an army of 400 men!'"

Genesis 32:6, CSB: "When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you--and he has four hundred men with him.""

What does Genesis 32:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob seems to hope that the carefully crafted message he sent to Esau would help to resolve their old conflict. Twenty years prior to this moment, he fled alone from a twin brother, Esau, who was determined to kill Jacob out of revenge (Genesis 27:41–45). It's common for a person to spend a great deal of time shaping a message meant for someone with whom you have a conflict. It's also common for those carefully-worded messages to elicit a quick, hard-to-interpret response.

Jacob's experience is similar, but with much higher stakes. Now, Jacob not only has to face Esau, he has to do so while traveling with his wives, children, and all of his accumulated wealth. Rather than pursue battle, or ignore the situation, Jacob chooses diplomacy. He called Esau "lord" and implied that perhaps he would share some of his great wealth with his brother.

Now the messengers return from Esau with no official reply at all. The only news is that Esau is coming with 400 men to meet Jacob. Is this a royal welcome or a war party? Is Esau coming to make peace with Jacob or to attack him? Jacob simply cannot know.