It is stated in this weeks Parsha, Parshas Vayishlach 32:5:

That he commanded them, saying, "This is what you should say to my master to Esau, 'this is what is what your servant Yaakov said, "I have stayed with Lavan, and I have lived there until now.

( free translation )

So my question is, why is Yaakov calling Esau "Master," if he never did it before?

  • See here
    – user4523
    Nov 30, 2014 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


Part of Ramban's comment on Breishit 32:21 offers some insight to this. He says that when Ya'akov sent messengers with a huge gift for Esav, the verse explains part of Ya'akovs thinking where he uses the term "kaparah" - a bit of an unusual term, here. Ramba"n explains that he sent servants before him and gave "kofer nafsho" (loose translation - redemption of his life) by giving this gift, in the similar manner that servants offer kapparah to the king so that they can obtain permission to see the king.

In summary (my analysis), which somewhat concurs with Ramba"n - it is clear that Ya'akov was terrified of Esav - to the point where he thought Esav would kill him. He also understood that Esav had a bit of an ego, and was probably still sore that Ya'kov had cheated him out of the blessing. So to appease Esav's anger, part of Ya'akov's strategy was to consider himself a "servant" to Esav and therefore, by relation, Esav was the "master" or the "Lord". It's a sense of respect, and if nothing else, makes Esav realize that even Ya'akov (at least temporarily) considers Esav the superior "ruler".

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