a way of showing respect

Abraham “bowed himself to the people of the land” (Genesis 23:7); so Jacob to Esau (Genesis 33:3); and the brethren of Joseph before him as the governor of the land (Genesis 43:28).

Bowing is also frequently mentioned as an act of adoration to idols (Joshua 23:7; 2 Kings 5:18; Judges 2:19; Isaiah 44:15), and to God (Joshua 5:14; Psalm 22:29; 72:9; Micah 6:6; Psalm 95:6; Ephesians 3:14).