Genesis 32

Jacob's Fear of Esau

1 Now as Jacob went on his way, 1the angels of God met him.
2 Jacob said when he saw them, "This is God's camp." So he named * that place 2Mahanaim.
3 Then Jacob 3sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of 4Seir, the country of 5Edom.
4 He also commanded them saying, "Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: 'Thus says your servant Jacob, "I have sojourned with Laban, and 6stayed until now;
5 7I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants *; and I have sent to tell my lord, 8that I may find favor in your sight.""'
6 The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore 9he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him."
7 Then Jacob was 10greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies;
8 for he said, "If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape."
9 Jacob said, "O 11God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, '12Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,'
10 I am unworthy 13of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.
11 "14Deliver me, I pray, 15from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the 16mothers with the children.
12 "For You said, '17I will surely prosper you and 18make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.' "
13 So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a 19present for his brother Esau:
14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,
15 thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.
16 He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Pass on before me, and put a space between droves."
17 He commanded the one in front, saying, "When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, 'To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?'
18 then you shall say, 'These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.' "
19 Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed * the droves, saying, "After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him;
20 and you shall say, 'Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.' " For he said, "I will appease * him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward * I will see his face; perhaps he will accept * me."
21 So the present passed on before * him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.
22 Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven * children, and crossed the ford of the 20Jabbok.
23 He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had.

Jacob Wrestles

24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man 21wrestled with him until daybreak.
25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "22I will not let you go unless * you bless me."
27 So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob."
28 23He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed."
29 Then 24Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob named * the place Peniel, for he said, "25I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."
31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over 26Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.
32 Therefore *, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.

Genesis 32 Commentary

Chapter 32

Jacob's vision at Mahanaim, His fear of Esau. (1-8) Jacob's earnest prayer for deliverance, He prepares a present for Esau. (9-23) He wrestles with the Angel. (24-32)

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, ( Ecclesiastes 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, ( hosea 12:4 hosea 12:5 ) . 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.

Cross References 26

  • 1. 2 Kings 6:16, 17; Psalms 34:7
  • 2. Joshua 21:38; 2 Samuel 2:8
  • 3. Genesis 27:41, 42; Genesis 32:7, 11
  • 4. Genesis 14:6; Genesis 33:14
  • 5. Genesis 25:30; Genesis 36:8, 9
  • 6. Genesis 31:41
  • 7. Genesis 30:43
  • 8. Genesis 33:8
  • 9. Genesis 33:1
  • 10. Genesis 32:11
  • 11. Genesis 28:13; Genesis 31:42
  • 12. Genesis 28:15; Genesis 31:3, 13
  • 13. Genesis 24:27
  • 14. Psalms 59:1, 2
  • 15. Genesis 27:41, 42; Genesis 33:4
  • 16. Hosea 10:14
  • 17. Genesis 28:14
  • 18. Genesis 22:17
  • 19. Genesis 43:11
  • 20. Deuteronomy 3:16; Joshua 12:2
  • 21. Hosea 12:3, 4
  • 22. Hosea 12:4
  • 23. Genesis 35:10; 1 Kings 18:31
  • 24. Judges 13:17, 18
  • 25. Genesis 16:13; Exodus 24:10, 11; Exodus 33:20; Numbers 12:8; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22
  • 26. Judges 8:8

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 32

This chapter informs us of Jacob's proceeding on in his journey, and of his being met and guarded by an host of angels, Ge 32:1,2; of his sending messengers to his brother Esau, acquainting him with his increase, and desiring his favour and good will, Ge 32:3-5, who return and report to him, that Esau was coming to him with four hundred men, which put him into a panic, and after devising ways and means for the security of himself; and those with him, at least a part, if not the whole, Ge 32:6-8; then follows a prayer of his to God, pressing his unworthiness of mercies, and his sense of them, imploring deliverance from his brother, and putting the Lord in mind of his promises, Ge 32:9-12; after which we have an account of the wise methods he took for the safety of himself and family, by sending a present to his brother, dividing those who had the charge of it into separate companies, and directing them to move at a proper distance from each other, he, his wives and children, following after, Ge 32:13-23; when they were over the brook Jabbok, he stopped, and being alone, the Son of God in an human form appeared to him, and wrestled with him, with whom Jacob prevailed, and got the blessing, and hence had the name of Israel, Ge 32:24-28; and though he could not get his name, he perceived it was a divine Person he had wrestled with, and therefore called the name of the place Penuel, Ge 32:29-31; the hollow of his thigh being touched by him with whom he wrestled, which put it out of joint, he halted as he went over Penuel, in commemoration of which the children of Israel eat not of that part of the thigh, Ge 32:31,32.

Genesis 32 Commentaries