Genesis 32 depicts Jacob’s journey to his father’s land in Canaan. While he travels, he attempts to make amends with his brother, wrestles with God, and receives the new name of Israel.
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Jacob Sends Gifts to Esau
When Jacob left for Canaan, he knew that he would have to travel through a region controlled by his brother Esau. Therefore, he sent messengers to his brother in Seir, in the country of Edom. He ordered the messengers to tell Esau that Jacob had been living with Laban and had since come into possession of many cattle, flocks and servants. He also instructed them to ask Esau to have mercy on him. Upon their return, the messengers informed Jacob that Esau was on his way to meet them, accompanied by 400 men. Jacob became very afraid and divided the people and flocks into two separate groups, reasoning that if Esau attacked one group, the other could escape. Jacob then prayed to God, asking him to protect him and his family.
After praying, he took 200 goats, 30 camels, 220 sheep, and 10 bulls, and gave them to his servants to be taken to Esau as gifts. Jacob instructed them to tell Esau that they were Jacob’s servants and that the host of gifts was meant as a peace offering. He then sent his 2 wives and 11 sons ahead and remained to meet Esau by himself.
Jacob is Given a New Name
That night, Jacob wrestled with a man until morning. And as dawn broke, the man told Jacob to let him go as they had persisted through the night and he had dislocated the joint on Jacob’s thigh. Jacob refused and told the man that he would only free him if the man blessed him. The man agreed to bless Jacob and told him that, from that day, he would no longer be called Jacob but Israel for he had struggled with God and men and prevailed. Jacob called the place Peniel, because he had met with God face to face.
Genesis Chapter 32 (King James Version)
1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,
15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.
16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.
17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?
18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.
19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.
20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.
21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
28 And he said, 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.
29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.