Genesis 32:24

24 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

Genesis 32:24 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 32:24

And Jacob was left alone
On the other side of Jabbok, his family and cattle having passed over it; and this solitude he chose, in order to spend some time in prayer to God for the safety of him and his: and there wrestled a man with him;
not a phantasm or spectre, as Josephus F5 calls him; nor was this a mere visionary representation of a man, to the imagination of Jacob; or done in the vision of prophecy, as Maimonides F6; but it was something real, corporeal, and visible: the Targum of Jonathan says, it was an angel in the likeness of a man, and calls him Michael, which is not amiss, since he is expressly called an angel, ( Hosea 12:4 ) ; and if Michael the uncreated angel is meant, it is most true; for not a created angel is designed, but a divine Person, as appears from Jacob's desiring to be blessed by him; and besides, being expressly called God, ( Genesis 32:28 Genesis 32:30 ) ; and was, no doubt, the Son of God in an human form; who frequently appeared in it as a token and pledge of his future incarnation: and "this wrestling" was real and corporeal on the part of both; the man took hold of Jacob, and he took hold of the man, and they strove and struggled together for victory as wrestlers do; and on Jacob's part it was also mental and spiritual, and signified his fervent and importunate striving with God in prayer; or at least it was attended with earnest and importunate supplications; see ( Hosea 12:4 ) ; and this continued until the breaking of the day:
how long this conflict lasted is not certain, perhaps not long; since after Jacob rose in the night he had a great deal of business to do, and did it before this affair happened; as sending his wives, children, servants, and cattle over the brook: however, this may denote, that in the present state or night of darkness, wrestling in prayer with God must be continued until the perfect state commences, when the everlasting day of glory will break.


F5 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 20. sect. 2.
F6 Morch Nevochim, par. 2. c. 42. p. 310.

Genesis 32:24 In-Context

22 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.
23 He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.
24 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
25 When the man saw that he couldn't get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob's hip out of joint.
26 The man said, "Let me go; it's daybreak." Jacob said, "I'm not letting you go 'til you bless me."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.