What does Genesis 33:17 mean?
ESV: But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
NIV: Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.
NASB: But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.
CSB: but Jacob went to Succoth. He built a house for himself and shelters for his livestock; that is why the place was called Succoth.
NLT: Jacob, on the other hand, traveled on to Succoth. There he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was named Succoth (which means 'shelters').
KJV: And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
Verse Commentary:
In prior verses, Jacob told his recently-reconciled brother, Esau, that he would follow him at a slower pace (Genesis 33:13–14). Supposedly, this meant heading into Edom, towards Seir, Esau's home (Genesis 32:3). The meeting place featured in the last few verses is near where the Jabbok river meets the Jordan. Edom and Seir are some distance to the south.

Instead, this verse indicates Jacob heading in exactly the opposite direction. With the encounter with Esau completed and peace restored, Jacob travels in the opposite direction of his brother's home. Seir was south; Succoth mostly to the north. Once at the place that would become known as Succoth, Jacob builds a permanent structure, a house, along with booths or shelters for his livestock. The name Succoth means "booths."

The reason for this apparent deception is not made clear. It's possible that Jacob visited Esau at some other time. It's also possible Jacob was afraid Esau might change his mind about their reconciliation (Genesis 33:4). In any case, Jacob does the exact opposite of what he told Esau, and heads in a different direction.
Verse Context:
Genesis 33:12–20 records Jacob's large company settling near the city of Shechem. Esau asks Jacob to travel back to Seir with him, but Jacob asks to come along later. Instead of following Esau, Jacob takes his caravan through Succoth. They eventually arrive near Shechem. There, Jacob buys land and settles in. In the next chapter, this will become the site of one of the ugliest episodes in Israel's young history.
Chapter Summary:
All the preparations to meet Esau have been made. Jacob has both the promise of the Lord's protection and a plan. Now the moment comes. Jacob approaches, repeatedly bowing low, until Esau finally runs to embrace and kiss his brother. They weep together. Esau meets Jacob's family. Though he initially refuses Jacob's enormous gift, Jacob urges him to take it as a sign of Esau's favor for him. Jacob soon buys land and sets up camp outside the city of Shechem, building an altar to the Lord there.
Chapter Context:
Jacob has just left a miraculous encounter with God, which left him with a new name and a limp (Genesis 32). When finally faced with meeting Esau, he is pleasantly surprised. Esau runs to Jacob to hug and kiss him. They weep together. After meeting Jacob's family, Esau tries to refuse Jacob's enormous gift. Jacob insists, saying that seeing Esau's face is as seeing the face of God. Jacob, refuses to travel back to Seir and instead journeys to Shechem. This sets up a tragic instance of assault and revenge, involving Jacob's daughter, Dinah.
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.
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