by Don R. Richards
Back to 1997
In this "Tour through the Bible" series almost every chapter of Genesis has presented numerous stories and events which have historical and doctrinal significance. Chapter 32 is no different.
Jacob, free from his servitude in Laban in exchange for his wives, has headed back to his homeland. The first item of his concern is his eventual meeting with his brother Esau.
If we remember back from chapter 27, Jacob tricked his father, Isaac, and received the traditional blessing reserved for the first born son. Jacob's older twin brother (born only a few minutes earlier than Jacob) was supposed to receive the blessing, but Jacob deceived Isaac into giving the blessing to the him.
This had infuriated Esau, and Esau threatened to kill Jacob, resulting in Jacob's fleeing to Laban (Gen. 27:41). Now many years have passed and Jacob is returning to his homeland. He has become a wealthy man.
Jacob sent messengers ahead to notify Esau he was returning. The messengers returned to tell Jacob that Esau was waiting with four hundred men. This scared Jacob and he feared for his life. (Gen. 32:7, 11).
Jacob then devised a plan to divide his men and stock animals into two groupings so that one could escape if Esau attacked the other. He also decided to prepare gifts for Esau and sent several groups of messengers ahead with various gifts of goats, rams, camels, cows, horses, etc., hoping to convince Esau that Jacob desired to live peacefully with his brother. Gen. 32:13-21.
One night as Jacob awaited his fate with Esau we are told of the well-known stow of Jacob's wrestle with the angel. It had significant impact on Jacob.
Beginning at 32:24 we are told Jacob was alone when he wrestled with "a man" From night until sunrise. The "man" was an angel of God as Jacob confirmed in verse 30 when he says 'I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
Jacob successfully wrestles with the angel such that the angel, in escaping Jacob's grip, touches the "hollow of Jacob's thigh" thus crippling Jacob. It is upon this that the Jewish nation has refused to eat of the muscle of the hip socket of the leg.
Jacob's requests a blessing in order to release the angel.
"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." Jacob's blessing is that he now is "Israel" further fulfilling the prophecy that his seed shall be as numerous as the sand by the sea which cannot be numbered.
Next: Jacob and Esau reconciled
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