Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die.” (Genesis 33:12-13)
Esau tried very hard to get Jacob to travel with him, presumably to the region called Seir but Jacob politely refused. You would think that two brothers, united after twenty years, would want to spend some time together; especially since they had just, seemingly, resolved their differences. Jacob wasn’t interested, instead defaulting to the same line many of us would use today — “The kids are tired and we have animals to tend to. Maybe next time. I’ll come visit you soon.” Actually there is no record of Jacob ever making the journey to Seir even though he indicated he would.
Could it be there was something in Esau’s kiss that warned Jacob that all was not well? Maybe Jacob refused to go because he suspected that Esau still intended to kill him. We have to remember that Esau is described as a skillful hunter — one who knows how to set a trap. Perhaps he, like Cain with Abel, wanted to lure Jacob into a place where he could exact his revenge in a more accommodating environment farther away from Isaac.
We will never know for sure if there was something sinister in Esau’s overtures but this is one thing we can deduce from Jacob’s response — listen to your “knower.” Your “knower” is that sense in your gut that discerns something isn’t quite right. Sometimes, we just know that we aren’t to go to that place or we aren’t to get too close to that person. Solomon said that, “A wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment” (Ecclesiastes 8:5). Though life is always filled with trials and difficulty, listening to the Spirit of God within us spares us of much grief and aggravation. So take a lesson from Jacob: it’s okay to say, “No” to someone when your knower is telling you to say, “No.”
Blessings and Shalom,