Jacob’s Fear of Esau
3 Then Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He commanded them, saying, “This is what to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says this, “I have been living temporarily with Laban, and have stayed there until now; 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants; and I have sent [this message] to tell my lord, so that I may find grace and kindness in your sight.”’”
6 The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” 7 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps; 8 and he said, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the other camp which is left will escape.”
9 Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your people, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and compassion and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant. With only my staff [long ago] I crossed over this Jordan, and now I have become [blessed and increased into these] two groups [of people]. 11 Save me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12 And You [Lord] said, ‘I will certainly make you prosper and make your descendants as [numerous as] the sand of the sea, which is too great to be counted.’”
13 So Jacob spent the night there. Then he selected a present for his brother Esau from the livestock he had acquired: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels with their colts, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten [donkey] colts. 16 He put them into the care of his servants, every herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go on ahead of me, and put an interval [of space] between the individual herds.” 17 Then he commanded the one in front, saying, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks to whom you belong, and where you are going, and whose are the animals in front of you? 18 then you shall say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s; they are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And he also is behind us.’” 19 And so Jacob commanded the second and the third as well, and all that followed the herds, saying, “This is what you shall say to Esau when you meet him; 20 and you shall say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he said [to himself], “I will try to appease him with the gift that is going ahead of me. Then afterward I will see him; perhaps he will accept and forgive me.” 21 So the gift [of the herds of livestock] went on ahead of him, and he himself spent that night back in the camp.
22 But he got up that same night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and waded over the ford of the Jabbok. 23 Then he took them and sent them across the brook. And he also sent across whatever he had.
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a [b]Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. 26 Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” 27 So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but [c]Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”(B) 29 Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.” But He said, “Why is it that you ask My name?” And He declared a blessing [of the covenant promises] on Jacob there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel (the face of God), saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life has not been snatched away.” 31 Now the sun rose on him as he passed Penuel (Peniel), and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore, to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh by the tendon of the hip.
- Genesis 32:2 Jacob may have been referring to the angels as another camp, along with his own, and viewing their presence as evidence of divine protection. This was Jacob’s second encounter with the “angels of God” (28:12).
- Genesis 32:24 This was God Himself (as Jacob eventually realizes in Gen 32:30; see also v 29 and Hosea 12:4), in the form of an angel.
- Genesis 32:28 “He who strives with God,” or “God strives.”