Genesis 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, the LORD, 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.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–8

The angels of God appeared to Jacob, to encourage him with the assurance of the Divine protection. When God designs his people for great trials, he prepares them by great comforts. While Jacob, to whom the promise belonged, had been in hard service, Esau was become a prince. Jacob sent a message, showing that he did not insist upon the birth-right. Yielding pacifies great offences, Ec 10:4. We must not refuse to speak respectfully, even to those unjustly angry with us. Jacob received an account of Esau’s warlike preparations against him, and was greatly afraid. A lively sense of danger, and quickening fear arising from it, may be found united with humble confidence in God’s power and promise.

Verses 9–23

Times of fear should be times of prayer: whatever causes fear, should drive us to our knees, to our God. Jacob had lately seen his guards of angels, but in this distress he applied to God, not to them; he knew they were his fellow-servants, Re 22:9. There cannot be a better pattern for true prayer than this. Here is a thankful acknowledgement of former undeserved favours; a humble confession of unworthiness; a plain statement of his fears and distress; a full reference of the whole affair to the Lord, and resting all his hopes on him. The best we can say to God in prayer, is what he has said to us. Thus he made the name of the Lord his strong tower, and could not but be safe. Jacob’s fear did not make him sink into despair, nor did his prayer make him presume upon God’s mercy, without the use of means. God answers prayers by teaching us to order our affairs aright. To pacify Esau, Jacob sent him a present. We must not despair of reconciling ourselves to those most angry against us.

Verses 24–32

A great while before day, Jacob being alone, more fully spread his fears before God in prayer. While thus employed, One in the likeness of a man wrestled with him. When the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer. Jacob kept his ground; though the struggle continued long, this did not shake his faith, nor silence his prayer. He will have a blessing, and had rather have all his bone put out of joint than go away without one. Those who would have the blessing of Christ, must resolve to take no denial. The fervent prayer is the effectual prayer. The Angel puts a lasting mark of honour upon him, by changing his name. Jacob signifies a supplanter. From henceforth he shall be celebrated, not for craft and artful management, but for true valour. Thou shalt be called Israel, a prince with God, a name greater than those of the great men of the earth. He is a prince indeed that is a prince with God; those are truly honourable that are mighty in prayer. Having power with God, he shall have power with men too; he shall prevail, and gain Esau’s favour. Jacob gives a new name to the place. He calls it Peniel, the face of God, because there he had seen the appearance of God, and obtained the favour of God. It becomes those whom God honours, to admire his grace towards them. The Angel who wrestled with Jacob was the second Person in the sacred Trinity, who was afterwards God manifest in the flesh, and who, dwelling in human nature, is called Immanuel, Ho 12:4, 5. Jacob halted on his thigh. It might serve to keep him from being lifted up with the abundance of the revelations. The sun rose on Jacob: it is sun-rise with that soul, which has had communion with God.

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