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Bible: What Does Genesis 32-3 Teach Us About Submission and Blessing?

Updated on September 15, 2016

Submission in Prayer

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Jacob Prepares for Esau

At Mahanaim (“Double Camp”) Jacob encounters angels (vv. 1-2).


[Apparently, he takes this event as a sign to set up camp and make contact with Esau before attempting to cross his land, Edom (v. 3).

Why would he call the camp Mahanaim, since he did not yet know that he would need to split his belongings into two companies?]

Hoping to avoid a confrontation with his brother, Jacob sends messengers to him, humbly requesting passage (vv. 4-5).

But misconstruing the reply message—Esau is coming with four hundred men—, Jacob divides his possessions into two companies to insure the safety of one (vv. 7b-8, see 33:2 for who went first), fearing that Esau wished to exact revenge upon him and his family (vv. 6-7a)

In crisis mode, Jacob gets down to some serious praying (vv. 9-12).

First, he reverently addresses God and reminds Him of His promise to bless him once he returned home (v. 9; cf. 31:13).

Second, Jacob humbly acknowledges how the LORD had blessed him, and confesses how unworthy he had been to receive those good things (v. 10).

Third, he requests deliverance from his brother (v. 11a).

[Notice, however, that he still appears to regard himself before all others, and Rachel remains his favorite wife (v. 11b; cf. 33:2)]!

Fourth, he recalls the rest of God’s promise (v. 12; cf. 28:13-15).

The next morning he sets aside for Esau a “peace offering” of sorts (consisting of hundreds of animals) [vv. 13-15], and then sends it before him by his servants’ hand with a message of appeasement, hoping that his brother would accept it and him (vv. 16-21).

Israel and the Angel of Yahweh

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Jacob's New Name

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Physical Discomfort

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Wrestling With "The Angel of the LORD"

That night he commands his entire human contingent to cross over the ford of Jabbok, but he himself stays behind and wrestles with a Man until dawn (vv. 22-24).

[The text says that the LORD (a Christophany) did not “prevail” against Jacob.

About what issue did God wrestle with him, and in what way would He seek to prevail?

Jacob would not let Him go until He blessed him (vv. 25a, 26b).

Was God reluctant to bless him?]

After Jacob “prevails,” the LORD changes his name to Israel (“Prince with God”) and blesses him (vv. 28-29).

When Jacob asks his opponent’s name, God answers cryptically with a question, as will become His wont (v. 29b; cf. Jud. 13:17-18).

[Does He not give Israel His name because it is ‘wonderful’, or because Israel should already have known who He is? See Isa. 9:6, 7]

In order to remember the miracle that occurred on that location, Jacob names the place Peniel (“face of God”) [v. 30].

[Cf. the theme of seeing God face-to-face in Judges 6:22, 23; 13:22)].

Jacob’s encounter with the LORD causes him some physical discomfort for the rest of his days (v. 31).

Perhaps to commemorate this part of their history, the Israelites of Moses’ day still did not eat any animal’s hip muscle (v. 32).

[Is there any significance to the time element in this account?

The two wrestled until dawn (v. 24); the LORD tells Jacob about the breaking of day (v. 26); the sun rose on Jacob just as he crossed Penuel (v. 31)].

Jacob and Esau Reconcile

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Esau Warmly Greets His Brother

Genesis 33

Now Jacob faces the test:Esau is coming with four hundred men (v. 1a).

After dividing his family into three groups (with his favorite wife Rachel, her last son Joseph, and himself last), he approaches Esau with extreme obeisance (“seven times”) [vv. 2-3].

[Does he show true humility here, or is he merely afraid of his brother?]

Expecting to feel a sword strike him down, or at least two men grab him by the arms to drag him away, Jacob instead experiences Esau’s warm embrace and his brotherly kiss (v. 4).

Eventually, he introduces his whole family to Esau, whom Jacob humbly calls “my lord” (vv. 5-8).

Confused by the “company” (of livestock) that he meets, Esau questions Jacob about their meaning.

When he learns his brother is offering them as a present and to make amends, he politely declines (v. 9).

Jacob insists that Esau take the gift, acknowledging his brother’s favor toward him as God’s blessing (vv. 10-11).

Esau suggests that Jacob accompany him to Seir, but the latter explains his need to go slower because of the nursing livestock and the children (vv. 12-14).

When Esau offers to lend his brother some men to help him, Jacob respectfully declines, saying that he had no such need (v. 15).

Thus Esau and Jacob separate again; the former goes to Seir, but the latter travels to Succoth where he settles down with his family and livestock (vv. 16-17).

[Did Jacob ever go to Seir as he said he would? (cf. v. 14)]

Finally, Jacob arrives in Shechem, a town of Caanan, where he buys some land, pitches his tent, and erects an altar in fulfillment of his promise to make the LORD his God (vv. 18-20; cf. 28:20-22).

© 2013 glynch1

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