1#Jacob’s negotiations with Esau. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren good-bye but not Jacob. On leaving Mesopotamia, Jacob has an encounter with angels of God (vv. 2–3), which provokes him to exclaim, “This is God’s encampment,” just as he exclaimed upon leaving Canaan, “This is the house of God, the gateway to heaven” (28:11–17). Early the next morning, Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them; then he set out on his journey back home. 2Meanwhile Jacob continued on his own way, and God’s angels encountered him. 3When Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s encampment.” So he named that place Mahanaim.#Mahanaim: a town in Gilead (Jos 13:26, 30; 21:38; 2 Sm 2:8; etc.). The Hebrew name means “two camps.” There are other allusions to the name in vv. 8, 11.
Envoys to Esau. 4Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,#Gn 36:6. 5ordering them: “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob: I have been residing with Laban and have been delayed until now. 6I own oxen, donkeys and sheep, as well as male and female servants. I have sent my lord this message in the hope of gaining your favor.’” 7When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We found your brother Esau. He is now coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
8Jacob was very much frightened. In his anxiety, he divided the people who were with him, as well as his flocks, herds and camels, into two camps. 9“If Esau should come and attack one camp,” he reasoned, “the remaining camp may still escape.” 10Then Jacob prayed: “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac! You, Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and your relatives, and I will be good to you.’#Gn 31:3. 11I am unworthy of all the acts of kindness and faithfulness that you have performed for your servant: although I crossed the Jordan here with nothing but my staff, I have now grown into two camps. 12Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau! Otherwise I fear that he will come and strike me down and the mothers with the children. 13You yourself said, ‘I will be very good to you, and I will make your descendants like the sands of the sea, which are too numerous to count.’”#Gn 28:14; 48:16; Ex 32:13; Heb 11:12.
14After passing the night there, Jacob selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: 15two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats; two hundred ewes and twenty rams; 16thirty female camels and their young; forty cows and ten bulls; twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 17He put these animals in the care of his servants, in separate herds, and he told the servants, “Go on ahead of me, but keep some space between the herds.” 18He ordered the servant in the lead, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? To whom do these animals ahead of you belong?’ 19tell him, ‘To your servant Jacob, but they have been sent as a gift to my lord Esau. Jacob himself is right behind us.’” 20He also ordered the second servant and the third and all the others who followed behind the herds: “Thus and so you shall say to Esau, when you reach him; 21and also tell him, ‘Your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” For Jacob reasoned, “If I first appease him with a gift that precedes me, then later, when I face him, perhaps he will forgive me.” 22So the gifts went on ahead of him, while he stayed that night in the camp.
Jacob’s New Name.#As Jacob crosses over to the land promised him, worried about the impending meeting with Esau, he encounters a mysterious adversary in the night with whom he wrestles until morning. The cunning Jacob manages to wrest a blessing from the night stranger before he departs. There are folkloric elements in the tale—e.g., the trial of the hero before he can return home, the nocturnal demon’s loss of strength at sunrise, the demon protecting its river, the power gained by knowledge of an opponent’s name—but these have been worked into a coherent though elliptical narrative. The point of the tale seems to be that the ever-striving, ever-grasping Jacob must eventually strive with God to attain full possession of the blessing. 23That night, however, Jacob arose, took his two wives, with the two maidservants and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 24After he got them and brought them across the wadi and brought over what belonged to him, 25Jacob was left there alone. Then a man#A man: as with Abraham’s three visitors in chap. 18, who appear sometimes as three, two, and one (the latter being God), this figure is fluid; he loses the match but changes Jacob’s name (v. 29), an act elsewhere done only by God (17:5, 15). A few deft narrative touches manage to express intimate contact with Jacob while preserving the transcendence proper to divinity. wrestled with him until the break of dawn. 26When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that Jacob’s socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him.#Hos 12:5. 27The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” 28“What is your name?” the man asked. He answered, “Jacob.”#Gn 35:10; 1 Kgs 18:31; 2 Kgs 17:34. 29Then the man said, “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel,#Israel: the first part of the Hebrew name Yisrael is given a popular explanation in the word saritha, “you contended”; the second part is the first syllable of ’elohim, “divine beings.” The present incident, with a similar allusion to the name Israel, is referred to in Hos 12:5, where the mysterious wrestler is explicitly called an angel. because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” 30Jacob then asked him, “Please tell me your name.” He answered, “Why do you ask for my name?” With that, he blessed him. 31Jacob named the place Peniel,#Peniel: a variant of the word Penuel (v. 32), the name of a town on the north bank of the Jabbok in Gilead (Jgs 8:8–9, 17; 1 Kgs 12:25). The name is explained as meaning “the face of God,” peni-’el. Yet my life has been spared: see note on 16:13. “because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”#Jgs 13:22.
32At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip. 33That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, because he had struck Jacob’s hip socket at the sciatic muscle.
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1Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; 2and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God's army!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.#32.2 Here taken to mean Two armies
3And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother 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 sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, asses, flocks, menservants, and maidservants; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’ ”
6And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men 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 which is left will escape.”
9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who didst say 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 which thou hast shown to thy servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, lest he come and slay us all, the mothers with the children. 12But thou didst say, ‘I will do you good, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”
13So he lodged there that night, and took from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten he-asses. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before 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 before 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 before me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on before him; and he himself lodged that night in the camp.
22The same night he arose 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. 24And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob's thigh 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.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel,#32.28 That is He who strives with God or God strives for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the name of 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 thigh. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh on the sinew of the hip.
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