A Short Study of Genesis 33:20

“And he erected there an altar, and called it El–elohe–Israel.”
(Genesis 33:20)

After more than twenty years Jacob returns to the place he fears the most. His last memory of this place was his brothers oath to slay him and each step he takes he knows his brother is thundering towards him with four hundred men. But God has instructed him to go there and has also prepared both him and those before him for this journey. Jacob is a changed man. He does not attempt to arrange things or try to make things appear as something they are not. He comes toward his brother as he is; fully exposed, unguarded, and unprotected. He does not come to his brother in battle formation but with tokens of grace and good will.

At last, he sees his red headed brother and as he moves toward him he bows himself to the ground seven times. In true humility he comes to Esau not knowing how things will go. To his surprise Esau leaps off his horse and runs to his brother and embraces him in tears and kisses. Esau seeing his brother, and sensing his true affection, tells Jacob to keep his gifts; that he has plenty. But Jacob urges him to keep them saying these words to his brother, “I pray thee if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand; for therefore, I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou was pleased with me.” (Genesis 33:10) What a statement of Gods sovereign, loving rule for Israel. When I saw your face appeased I saw it as the face of God.

Leaving his brother, Jacob finds a small place to rest and there he builds an altar. He calls the altar by this name, Elelohe-Israel. The name is a compound of words and as near as I can translate them have three declarations.

The Mighty God rules in Israel.
The Mighty God rules for Israel.
The Mighty God rules through Israel

All three are true and all are the experience and confession of true Israel. What a glorious and loving rule is the rule of Christ that governs all things in order to give eternal life to those given to Him by His Father before the world began. May God be pleased to inscribe Elelohe-Israel upon the altar of our hearts that we may worship our great King.

D. Pruitt

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