Jacob Becomes Israel | Genesis 32

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 World English Bible Genesis 32

Jacob hears Esau is coming with 400 men and lays out an escape plan.

Chapter 32

1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s army.” He called the name of that place Mahanaim.

3 Jacob sent messengers in front of him to Esau, his brother, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom. 4 He commanded them, saying, “This is what you shall tell my lord, Esau: ‘This is what your servant, Jacob, says. I have lived as a foreigner with Laban, and stayed until now. 5 I have cattle, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.’” 6 The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau. Not only that, but he comes to meet you, and four hundred men with him.” 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and the camels, into two companies; 8 and he said, “If Esau comes to the one company, and strikes it, then the company which is left will escape.” 9 Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, Yahweh, who said to me, ‘Return to your country, and to your relatives, and I will do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the loving kindnesses, and of all the truth, which you have shown to your servant; for with just my staff I crossed over this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he come and strike me, and the mothers with the children. 12 You said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring* as the sand of the sea, which can’t be numbered because there are so many.’”

13 He stayed there that night, and took from that which he had with him, a present for Esau, his brother: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels and their colts, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. 16 He delivered them into the hands of his servants, every herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over before me, and put a space between herd and herd.” 17 He commanded the foremost, saying, “When Esau, my brother, meets you, and asks you, saying, ‘Whose are you? Where are you going? Whose are these before you?’ 18 Then you shall say, ‘They are your servant, Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord, Esau. Behold, he also is behind us.’” 19 He commanded also the second, and the third, and all that followed the herds, saying, “This is how you shall speak to Esau, when you find him. 20 You shall say, ‘Not only that, but behold, your servant, Jacob, is behind us.’” For, he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.”

21 So the present passed over before him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

22 He rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had. 24 Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. 25 When he saw that he didn’t prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled. 26 The man said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.”

Jacob said, “I won’t let you go, unless you bless me.”

27 He said to him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Jacob”. 28 He said, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

29 Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”

He said, “Why is it that you ask what my name is?” He blessed him there.

30 Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 The sun rose on him as he passed over Peniel, and he limped because of his thigh. 32 Therefore the children of Israel don’t eat the sinew of the hip, which is on the hollow of the thigh, to this day, because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.

Thoughts for the day

OK, Jacob is on his way to his father’s land just as God asked. On the way, God revealed his angels to Jacob and stated to Jacob’s family that this was God’s Army. He named the place where the angels were revealed to him, as this was an important event. From here, Jacob sent his messengers to Esau who notifies Esau that Jacob is returning. Esau immediately sets out to see Jacob with 400 men. Jacob, I am sure, is nervous about seeing Esau, as he had not dealt with Esau in a straight-up manner in the past. The news of 400 men probably did not set Jacob at ease, but what can Jacob expect after he treated Esau as he did? What can Esau expect from a now powerful man who would steal just about anything?  The tensions had to be high, and both men knew it. Jacob, not remembering God’s army, realizes he is outgunned, and sets about trying to protect his assets. He divides them in two so his brother’s army would not be able to take them out all at once, with hopes that one group can escape.

Funny how much energy we spend on worry. God just showed Jacob he was going to care for him, and how He had an army of angels in waiting if they were needed. Not only is energy expended, but so are resources. Jacob sends over several herds as peace offerings, hoping he could buy off Esau.  This same man who fears his brother’s wrath, gets in a wrestling match with a stranger, in the middle of the night, that Jacob knew had the power to bless him. Jacob fought with him all night. The man asked to be released, and Jacob said only if you bless me. The man blessed Jacob, but also inflicted a permanent injury to his hip. He then told Jacob to change his name to Israel, so Jacob did.  Jacob decided he had been wrestling with God himself.  He named the place Peniel “The Face of God”.  I guess when it says man was created in God’s own image, during creation, God literally meant in his own image.

This has got to be one of the most interesting meetings Old Testament man has ever had with God. We have few records of a human touching God, much less wrestling him to the ground and bargaining to a blessing. That tenacity is why God chose Jacob to become Israel.

Have a wonderful day, remember to seek God, and maintain the persistence of Israel in all that God puts before you…

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