Verses 16-20 (Genesis 33:16-20)

Here, 1. Jacob comes to Succoth. Having in a friendly manner parted with Esau, who had gone to his own country (Gen. 33:16), he comes to a place where, it should seem, he rested for some time, set up booths for his cattle, and other conveniences for himself and family. The place was afterwards known by the name of Succoth, a city in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan (it signifies booths), that when his posterity afterwards dwelt in houses of stone, they might remember that the Syrian ready to perish was their father, who was glad of booths (Deut. 26:5); such was the rock whence they were hewn. 2. He comes to Shechem; we read it, to Shalem, a city of Shechem; the critics generally incline to read it appellatively: he came safely, or in peace, to the city of Shechem. After a perilous journey, in which he had met with many difficulties, he came safely, at last, into Canaan. Note, Diseases and dangers should teach us how to value health and safety, and should help to enlarge our hearts in thankfulness, when our going out and coming in have been signally preserved. Here, (1.) He buys a field, Gen. 33:19. Though the land of Canaan was his by promise, yet, the time for taking possession not having yet come, he is content to pay for his own, to prevent disputes with the present occupants. Note, Dominion is not founded in grace. Those that have heaven on free-cost must not expect to have earth so. (2.) He builds an altar, Gen. 33:20. [1.] In thankfulness to God, for the good hand of his providence over him. He did not content himself with verbal acknowledgments of God?s favour to him, but made real ones. [2.] That he might keep up religion, and the worship of God, in his family. Note, Where we have a tent God must have an altar, where we have a house he must have a church in it. He dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel?God, the God of Israel, to the honour of God, in general, the only living and true God, the best of beings and first of causes; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Note, In our worship of God we must be guided and governed by the joint-discoveries both of natural and revealed religion. God had lately called him by the name of Israel, and now he calls God the God of Israel; though he is styled a prince with God, God shall still be a prince with him, his Lord and his God. Note, Our honours then become honours indeed to us when they are consecrated to God?s honour; Israel?s God is Israel?s glory.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary