What does Genesis 32:11 mean?
ESV: Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children.
NIV: Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children.
NASB: Save me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children.
CSB: Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children.
NLT: O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.
KJV: Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob continues his desperate, fearful prayer to God. He is terrified that Esau, his estranged brother, has set out with a party of 400 men to attack him and his family (Genesis 32:6). This possibility so frightens Jacob that he's split his entire caravan into two separate groups, so that if one is attacked, the other will be able to flee (Genesis 32:7–8). Thus far in his prayer, Jacob has acknowledged God's goodness to him. All of this serves more as Jacob reminding himself of God's promises than Jacob presuming to remind God of those same concerns.

Now Jacob makes his request. It's a model prayer for us, as well. Jacob tells God what he wants, even expressing his emotional state of mind. It's as honest as prayer gets: Please deliver me. Specifically, Jacob asks God to deliver him from Esau. Jacob tells God he is afraid that Esau will attack him, as well as attacking his wives and children.
Verse Context:
Genesis 32:1–21 describes Jacob's preparations to meet his brother Esau, who is coming his way with 400 men. This will be the first time Jacob and Esau have spoken since Jacob fled Esau's rage as described in Genesis 27. Jacob is terrified this approaching force is coming to kill him. He divides his company into two camps. He prays in humility and faith to God for deliverance. He prepares a large gift of 550 animals to be strategically delivered to Esau to appease his presumed anger.
Chapter Summary:
As Jacob turns from Laban and returns to his own country, he must face another fearful potential conflict. His twin brother Esau is coming with 400 men. Jacob fears this group approaches to take revenge for cheating Esau out of the family blessing 20 years earlier. Jacob is so afraid that he splits his company into two camps, even as he prays for deliverance. He also prepares an enormous gift to appease Esau. Finally, while alone in the dark, Jacob is unexpectedly forced to wrestle a mysterious man, who turns out to be God Himself in some manifested form. In a profound moment of symbolism, God forces Jacob to state his own name, which God then changes to Israel.
Chapter Context:
Jacob came to work for Laban while running from the murderous rage of his twin brother, Esau. Jacob was routinely cheated by Laban, eventually resolving to go back home along with his entire family. Unfortunately, this means coming back to face Esau. Jacob soon learns that Esau is headed his way with 400 men. Are they coming to kill Jacob in revenge for his deceit in stealing Isaac's blessing 20 years earlier? Jacob is afraid. He divides his large company into two camps. He prays earnestly to God for deliverance, and he prepares a huge gift to appease Esau. Finally, alone in the dark, Jacob physically grapples with a mysterious man who turns out to be God Himself, in some form. The man questions Jacob, changes his name to Israel, and pronounces a blessing. Thus prepared, Jacob will finally be reunited with his brother in the next chapter.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 4/22/2024 2:03:20 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.