What does Genesis 33:8 mean?
ESV: Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”
NIV: Esau asked, 'What's the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?' 'To find favor in your eyes, my lord,' he said.
NASB: And he said, 'What do you mean by all this company which I have met?' And he said, 'To find favor in the sight of my lord.'
CSB: So Esau said, "What do you mean by this whole procession I met? ""To find favor with you, my lord," he answered.
NLT: And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?' Esau asked. Jacob replied, 'They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.'
KJV: And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
NKJV: Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” And he said, “ These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”
Verse Commentary:
Reunited and reconciled with Jacob and having met his wives and children, Esau now asks Jacob about the five large herds of animals that have passed before him on his way. The large company he refers to includes goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys, 550 animals in total (Genesis 32:13–17).

Jacob has instructed his servants to tell Esau these were gifts from Jacob. Most likely, this message was delivered, so Esau is not asking who the livestock belong to. He's asking "why" Jacob is lavishing him with such a gift. Jacob's answer is simple. He wished to find favor in the sight of "my lord." He wanted Esau to accept him.

Jacob's initial reaction to news of Esau's approach was fear (Genesis 32:7–8). This is understandable, since twenty years prior, Jacob had cheated his twin out of a blessing, and fled to avoid being killed in revenge (Genesis 27:41–45). His humble language and opulent presents were meant to soothe Esau, in the hopes of avoiding violence.
Verse Context:
Genesis 33:1–11 describes the long awaited meeting between Jacob and Esau. Jacob maintains his attitude as Esau's cautious servant throughout, though Esau himself embraces his twin warmly and they weep together at their reunion. Esau hesitates, but Jacob insists his brother receive the enormous gift of livestock he has given. Esau does so. The two will part on good terms.
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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