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I know that there are some Midrashim that "blame" Ya'akov for sending messengers to Esav. But, after he sends them, they return and report that Esav is coming after him with 400 men.

We see that he sends Esav gifts to try to appease him, and he prepares to defend himself. And, he prays to G-d for help. One thing that doesn't seem apparent, is that assuming that Ya'akov knew that he was outnumbered, and that he was afraid of his brother, why didn't he run away, try to outmaneuver his brother or hide in a cave for a while until he calculated that Esav would eventually give up searching for him?

  • "Why didn't Ya'akov try to hide from Esav?" Because he didn't want to be coward, maybe!? – ezra Nov 27 '17 at 20:52
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    @ezra that is ridiculous. This isn't some wild west movie! In real life being prudent as opposed to foolhardy is a virtue, rather than a defect. – mevaqesh Nov 27 '17 at 20:54
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    @ezra That's not the greatest reason or reasoning. All the avot as well as other great Biblical figures were realistic. David, who was a tough warrior, was smart enough to know to hide from King Shaul. – DanF Nov 27 '17 at 20:56
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    @mevaqesh "This isn't some wild west movie!" Nope. It's more like an "eastern" movie to me. – DanF Nov 27 '17 at 20:57
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Because Ya'akov was not alone.

The people with him included 13 children, 2 wives, 2 concubines, servants of his own, and servants for his wives and concubines.

He also had huge amounts of cattle and sheep, and many tents and other posessions.

See verse 32:6 "I have acquired cattle, asses, sheep, male and female slaves"

His camp was so large that he was able to divide it into 2 and credibly represent that one of them was the whole camp, so that the other might escape.

There is no way to "hide" such a camp, and it would be the worst sort of cowardice to abandon it to Eisav. So Ya'akov bravely sent messengers ahead, gave presents, and confronted Eisav in such a way that he thought might save himself, his people, and his possessions. He also prayed to G-d (I think verse 32:10 might be the time he instituted Ma'ariv) and showed his spiritual courage by wrestling the angel.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Daniel, thanks for the answer! – mevaqesh Dec 1 '17 at 7:31
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya. As you may know, on this site, we prefer souirced answers. Your analysis is sensible, though. One puzzling aspect is that it doesn't seem that he tried to elude Esav much either. Although when it says that he passed his family across the Yabbok river, I'd have to get a sense of the geography to understand if that may have been a way of elduding him. It doesn't seem that way, though. – DanF Dec 1 '17 at 15:44
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  1. Eisov knew exactly where Yaakov was all those years, as the two families agreed to intermarry, and Yaakov was bound to this agreement.
  2. Eisov promised not to harm Yaakov as long as Yitzhok's alive, and Yitzhok was still alive.
  3. Eisov knew he failed, he was jealous, but he wasn't evil, like Lavan to exterminate Yaakov and the tribes altogether. After he saw Yaakov succeeded with Hashem's help - "נכמרו רחמיו" and he didn't intend to fight the whole Yaakov's family. This was a smart move, and thanks to his understanding that point his head is buried in Maaras Hamachpelo.
  4. As we learn from Yaakov, and subsequently the Tribes and Moses, war is not about the strength or the ammunition. It's about being righteous and repenting in time (see his Zeide's fight against all the kings). So Yaakov was not afraid of Eisov's military power.
  5. Making up with Eisov was on Yaakov's list and he did not try to escape it. He just did not know how would to go, so he prepared for anything. But miraculously, he succeeded to do it by bowing down 7 times. Oh, 7 again. Spooky.
  6. I think a better question would be, why Yaakov did not fight Lavan, that would be more reasonable.

And sorry for not sourcing agin.

  • Eisov knew exactly where Yaakov was all those years, as the two families agreed to intermarry, and Yaakov was bound to this agreement. The Midrash says that their parents arranged this at birth. If anything, it was the parents that knew where Yaakov was (as an infant) . There is no evidence whatsoever on the basis of that Midrash (which you don't even cite) that Esav knew where Yaakov was. – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 3:32
  • Eisov promised not to harm Yaakov as long as Yitzhok's alive, and Yitzhok was still alive. If Yaakov knew this, why did he fear Esav? Why go through appeasing Esav, if he wasn't scared of Esav? The question was why he did everything he did as opposed to hiding. I don't see how this answers the question. – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 3:34
  • After he saw Yaakov succeeded with Hashem's help - "נכמרו רחמיו" and he didn't intend to fight the whole Yaakov's family This is totally irrelevant since it occurred after he met Yaakov. The question is why Yaakov appeased him and didn't flee from him before meeting him. – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 3:35
  • So Yaakov was not afraid of Eisov's military power. What is your source for this? The Torah seems to disagree with it: וַיָּשֻׁ֙בוּ֙ הַמַּלְאָכִ֔ים אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב לֵאמֹ֑ר בָּ֤אנוּ אֶל־אָחִ֙יךָ֙ אֶל־עֵשָׂ֔ו וְגַם֙ הֹלֵ֣ךְ לִקְרָֽאתְךָ֔ וְאַרְבַּע־מֵא֥וֹת אִ֖ישׁ עִמּֽוֹ: ח) וַיִּירָ֧א יַעֲקֹ֛ב מְאֹ֖ד וַיֵּ֣צֶר ל֑וֹ – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 3:38
  • Even if Esav originally knew where Yaakov was, how would this prevent Yaakov from hiding? – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 3:52

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