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Go to Bible: Genesis 32
|Gen 32:1||- (top)|
“This is God’s camp.” This is a wonderful example of how God can work to comfort us in difficult times. Meeting the angels should have been very comforting to Jacob, who was already on edge about meeting Esau. God had told Jacob to return to the land of Israel (Gen. 31:3, 13), and then God sends a band of angels to show Jacob that He was with him and protecting him. But even after being told by God to go back to the land and even meeting God’s army, Jacob was afraid when he heard Esau was coming with 400 men (Gen. 32:6-7).
“Mahanaim.” Mahanaim means “two camps,” or “double camp.” Although the reason for the name is not specifically explained, it can be surmised. Jacob and his people had just left Laban and his people, and the two groups, who met up with each other in the hill country of Gilead (Gen. 31:25), were two hostile camps. He then moved deeper into Israel and meets a band of angels, at which point he exclaimed that he must be at the camp of God, the place where God’s army camps, and he named the place “Two Camps” because there was the angels’ camp and his camp.(top)
|Gen 32:3||- (top)|
|Gen 32:4||- (top)|
|Gen 32:5||- (top)|
|Gen 32:6||- (top)|
|Gen 32:7||- (top)|
|Gen 32:8||- (top)|
“And Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham.” This prayer of Jacob in Genesis 32:9-12 shows a huge shift in the heart of Jacob, and tremendous growth from the Jacob of earlier records. It is a model prayer in very many ways. It is honest, humble, simple, and straightforward. It recognizes God’s faithfulness to Jacob’s ancestors, shows Jacob’s acknowledgment of God’s promises, and demonstrates a deep humility that Jacob only has what he has because of God’s blessing. Jacob’s prayer also contains a bold and desperate request—that he be delivered from his brother Esau—but not just for himself, as a younger Jacob might have asked, but for his wives and children as well.
The prayer is also based upon God’s covenant promise about Jacob’s seed multiplying as the sand in the sea for multitude. Although when God talked to Jacob, He had said “the dust of the earth” (Gen. 28:14), in this prayer Jacob goes back to covenant roots that are based in Abraham (Gen. 22:17), showing that Abraham had passed the promises of God down to his offspring.
Did it take being afraid for his life and the lives of his family to congeal in Jacob’s heart that he needed God, could not succeed without God, and would succeed only with God? Many soldiers testify that it was only when they thought they were going to die in battle that they got serious about God, and that is certainly the source of the saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” That certainly may be the case with Jacob. However, we must not discount that it is more likely that Jacob had been maturing in his heart for years. The threat of death may have congealed Jacob’s trust in God, but the foundation of his relationship with God had been building over the years. However, God, in His grace, did not allow this newly formed sincerity in Jacob to exist without burning it into Jacob’s life. God sent an angel whose interaction with Jacob no doubt left a deep and life-long impression—even if that impression was helped along by Jacob’s newly caused limp.
One sure thing we can learn from this prayer is that a powerful prayer is one that is bold and honest, and spoken from the heart. Long, flowery prayers may seem impressive, but bold and honest prayers touch God’s heart.(top)
|Gen 32:10||- (top)|
|Gen 32:11||- (top)|
|Gen 32:12||- (top)|
|Gen 32:13||- (top)|
|Gen 32:14||- (top)|
|Gen 32:15||- (top)|
“Cross over.” This is a key to where Jacob was, which was on the north side of the Jabbok River gorge, which is a little over halfway down between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea on the east side of the Jordan River (cp. Gen. 32:23).(top)
“To whom do you belong?” Esau would assume, and correctly in this case, that any group that was first in line to meet an approaching band of men would be servants and slaves.(top)
|Gen 32:18||- (top)|
|Gen 32:19||- (top)|
“accept me.” “The Hebrew is an idiom, “lift up my face.” The intimacy in this section is intense: more literally, “I will cover [the anger of] his face with the present that goes ahead of my face; and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will lift up my face.” To lift up someone’s face was to accept them: the person was downcast or bowed down in your presence, and by lifting up the face the person knew they were accepted.(top)
|Gen 32:21||- (top)|
“two female slaves.” This refers to Bilhah, Rachel’s slave girl who she gave to Jacob to have children (Gen. 30:1-8) and Zilpah, Leah’s slave girl who she gave to Jacob to have children (Gen. 30:9-12). The two slave girls had four of Jacob’s 12 sons.(top)
|Gen 32:23||- (top)|
“a man.” We learn from Hosea 12:4 that the “man” was an angel.
“wrestled with him.” The angel “wrestled” with Jacob. This wrestling is not described in the text, but wrestling involves grabbing, holding, and tussling back and forth. The Hebrew word for “wrestle” has the same stem as “dust,” such that “wrestling” is “getting dusty,” and the fact that the angel asked Jacob to let him go (Gen. 32:26) indicates that Jacob and the angel had been physically wrestling.
“until the breaking of the day.” This is no doubt a literal statement; the daylight was beginning. However, statements about light and darkness sometimes involve a double entendre and indicate a mental or spiritual condition. For example, when Judas left the Last Supper to betray the Lord, the text says “and it was night” (John 13:30). This seems also to be a double entendre, for although the day was dawning physically, a new light was dawning in Jacob; the “heel grabber” was now “Israel,” the one who would recognize and submit to God’s fighting on his behalf.(top)
“the hollow of his thigh.” That is, the socket of his hip. In this battle, though the “man” could not seem to prevail against Jacob, at the same time he showed Jacob he could win the contest whenever he wanted.
“was strained.” Although many versions say “dislocated,” that is not likely because then Jacob would not have been able to walk at all. The reading “strained” (JPS; TNK) or “wrenched” (NIV) is much more likely. It is extremely difficult to put a dislocated hip back in place, and it seems unlikely that Jacob could have done it.(top)
“I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” This is not all there is to the story. Jacob was afraid for his life and the life of his family when this ordeal with the angel started, and now, faced with the opportunity to ask a favor of an angel of God, he “wept and sought his favor” (Hos. 12:4).(top)
|Gen 32:27||- (top)|
|Gen 32:28||- (top)|
“Why is it that you ask what my name is?” There was an ancient custom, preserved in folklore, that to know a person’s name was to have power over him. We all have a certain sense of this when a stranger calls us by name and we get an uneasy feeling and ask, “How did you know my name?” Jesus Christ has a name that no one knows but he himself (Rev. 19:12). The angel’s answer is somewhat similar to the angel’s answer in Judges 13:18.
“And he blessed him there.” This blessing must not be underrated. This is not just a “God bless you,” or a mere verbal statement that God was somehow pleased with Jacob. In this context, the blessing had meat and meaning. It meant that Jacob would now have God’s blessing on his life and he would be successful in what he did. And indeed, although Jacob’s life continued to have difficulties, he was blessed. He lived to a very old age and yet was survived by all 12 of his sons, and lived to see his family united and prospering in Egypt.(top)
“Peniel.” The word means “face of God.”(top)
“The sun rose on him.” This was literally true, but it is put in the text as an indication of the blessing of God on Jacob’s life. The sun shining upon a person generally indicated a state of blessing.(top)
|Gen 32:32||- (top)|