1Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; 2and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God's camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.#32.2 Here taken to mean Two camps
Jacob Sends Presents to Appease Esau
3Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’ ”
6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”
9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’ ”
13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.” 17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’ ” 19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.
Jacob Wrestles at Peniel
22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then the man#32.28 Heb he said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,#32.28 That is The one who strives with God or God strives for you have striven with God and with humans,#32.28 Or with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel,#32.30 That is The face of God saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
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A Divine Encounter
1As Jacob continued toward Canaan, the angels of God came to meet him! 2When he saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s military camp!” # 32:2 Or “This is God’s camp,” “This is God’s army,” or “Mahanaim.” So he named that place Two Camps of Angels.
3Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau who was living in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4He instructed them, “Give this message from me to my master Esau, ‘I am your servant. I have lived with our uncle Laban all these years 5and have acquired sheep, cattle, donkeys, and both male and female servants. I send this message to you, my master, in the hope of finding favor in your eyes.’ ”
6When the messengers returned to Jacob, they informed him, “We gave your brother Esau your message, and he himself is coming here to meet you. In fact, he’s on his way now with four hundred men!”
7Gripped with fear # 32:7 Or “Bound,” “Tied-up,” “Restricted,” implying that Jacob was immobilized by his anxiety. to the point of panic, Jacob split all the people who were with him into two camps, and also the flocks, herds, and camels. 8He said to himself, “If Esau attacks the first camp and destroys them, at least the other camp will escape.”
9Then Jacob prayed, “Yahweh, God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, you said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will make you prosper.’ 10I am so unworthy of all the loving-kindness and faithfulness that you have showered upon me, your servant. When I crossed this river Jordan years ago, all I had to my name was a staff in my hand, and now I have increased to become two camps! 11Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I’m afraid he will come and kill all of us, including the women and children. 12You said to me, ‘I will certainly prosper you and make your offspring as innumerable as the sand of the sea.’ ” 13So he spent the night there.
From what he had with him, Jacob sent a gift # 32:13 Or “Jacob sent from what he had in his hand.” to his brother Esau: 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty female camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. # 32:15 This was at least 550 animals, a substantial gift indeed. Perhaps Jacob was attempting to return a portion of the stolen birthright. 16He placed them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself. He told them, “Go on ahead of me, and put some space between each herd.”
17He gave these instructions to the one in the lead, “When my brother Esau meets you, and asks, ‘Who is your master? # 32:17 Or “To whom are you?” Where are you going? Who owns these herds you are driving?’ # 32:17 Or “Whose are these ahead of you?” 18then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. He’s sent them as a gift to you, my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’ ”
19He likewise instructed the leaders of the second and the third herds and all those following them, “You must say the same thing when you meet Esau. 20And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us,’ ” because he reasoned, “If I can appease Esau with these gifts before I have to meet him face-to-face, he may accept me.” 21So he sent the gifts on ahead of him, while he spent that night in the camp.
A Midnight Wrestling Match
22During the night, Jacob arose, woke up his two wives, his two maidservants, and eleven sons, and had them cross the ford of the Jabbok River. # 32:22 The name of this river was a prophecy of what God was doing in his servant. Jabbok means “emptying.” The Jabbok is known today in Arabic as the Wadi Zerga, which empties into the Jordan twenty-five miles north of the Dead Sea. 23He sent them across along with everything he had, 24and Jacob was left all alone. # 32:24 To be left alone with God is the only true way of coming to self-discovery. This was the turning point for Jacob. His schemes had all failed, and now he faced God alone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appeared and wrestled # 32:24 The Hebrew word for “wrestle” is related to a word for “dust” or “get dusty,” as two people do when wrestling on the ground. There is an amazing play on words in the Hebrew between the words “he wrestled” (ye’abeq), “Jabbok” (yabboq), and “Jacob” (yàaqob). The eyes of Jacob could not discern who was coming out of the shadows, just as Jacob’s father, Isaac, could not discern who it was that received his blessing. It was not Jacob wrestling a man, but a Man wrestling with Jacob. The One whom Jacob saw at the top of the stairway at Bethel had come down to wrestle with him—and roll in the mud of Jacob’s mistakes. with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he was not winning the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint, leaving it wrenched as he continued to wrestle with him. # 32:25 Jacob grabbed a heel; God grabbed his hip! Through these private encounters with the Lord, we become those whose names have been changed (see Gen. 17:5; Isa. 62:2, 4; Rev. 2:17; 3:12); we are changed into humbled, transformed ones who are subdued by the power of God (see Phil. 3:21). Jacob had at least two night encounters with the Lord: one while he rested (see Gen. 28) and the other while he wrestled. When he rested, the region got a new name—Luz became Bethel. When he wrestled, he got a new name—Jacob became Israel.
26Eventually, the man said to him, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”
But Jacob refused. “No! Not until you bless me!” # 32:26 Jacob might have initially thought it was Esau who had come at midnight to wrestle him. But as the night wore on, he realized the Man was a divine being (see Hos. 12:4). Perceiving this was a supernatural Man who had the power to bless or to curse, Jacob refused to release him until he pronounced a blessing over him.
27“What is your name?” # 32:27 This was a strange question because God knew his name. God touched not only his hip but also his slumbering conscience. When asked this question, Jacob’s imagination took him back over twenty years to the dark tent where his blind, aged father had faced him with the same question and he had answered, “It’s I—Esau”—and got away with it (see Gen. 27:19)! Now the Lord had come to Jacob insisting he acknowledge that he was the one who took advantage of his father and his brother. Jacob means “heel grabber” or “supplanter.” The Lord was insisting that his blessings would only begin when Jacob realized the true need of his heart. By speaking out his name, Jacob confessed his true nature: “I am a deceiver, a cheat. My name is heel grabber.” This confession liberated Jacob and opened the way for inner transformation (see Ps. 119:116; 2 Cor. 4:16). asked the man.
“Jacob,” he replied.
28“Not anymore,” the man said to him. “Your new name is Israel, # 32:28 Israel means “one who struggled with God and prevailed,” “may God [El] preserve,” or “prince with God.” for you have struggled both with God and with people and have overcome.”
29Jacob said, “Please, tell me your name.”
“Why ask my name?” # 32:29 If this is a rhetorical question, it may mean “You should not ask my name.” the man replied, then he spoke a blessing # 32:29 This blessing empowered Jacob to succeed and prosper. over Jacob.
30So Jacob named the place Penuel, # 32:30 Or “Peniel [face of God].” Eight times in the Old Testament this word is spelled “Penuel,” and only once “Peniel.” Since both spellings are in vv. 30 and 31, the translator has chosen to make them identical. saying, “I have seen God face-to-face, yet my life has been spared!” # 32:30 Once you have seen the face of God, the faces of those who oppose you will no longer intimidate you. Jacob could now look Esau in the eyes. 31The sun rose upon him as he crossed the Jabbok River from Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32To this day, the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle attached to the hip socket, because the man struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.
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