Hosea 12:3

3 In the womb he tried to supplant his brother, and in his manhood he strove with God.

Hosea 12:3 Meaning and Commentary

Hosea 12:3

He took his brother by the heel in the womb
That is, Jacob took his brother Esau by the heel, as he came forth from his mother's womb; the history of it is in ( Genesis 25:25 Genesis 25:26 ) . It is here observed, upon mentioning the name of Jacob in ( Hosea 12:2 ) , meaning the posterity, of the patriarch; but here he himself is intended, and occasionally taken notice of, to show how very different his posterity were from him, and how sadly degenerated; as well as to upbraid them with ingratitude, whose ancestors, and they also, had received such and so many favours from the Lord; Jacob the patriarch was a hero from the womb, but they transgressors from it; this action of his observed was a presage and pledge of his having the superiority of his brother, and of his getting the birthright and blessing from him. So the Targum,

``prophet, say unto them, was it not said of Jacob, before he was born, that he would be greater than his brother?''
see ( Romans 9:11 Romans 9:12 ) . In this action there was something divine, miraculous, and preternatural; it was not the effort of nature merely, but contrary to it, or at least above it; and not done by chance, but ordered by the providence of God, as a prediction and testification of his future greatness, and even of his posterity's, in times yet to come, as Kimchi observes, who refers to ( Obadiah 1:18 ) ; and by his strength he had power with God;
the Targum is, with the angel, as in ( Hosea 12:4 ) ; he is called a man in the history of this event in ( Genesis 32:24 ) ; not that he was a mere man, since he is here expressly called God, and afterwards the Lord God of hosts; and there it is evident, from the context, he was a divine Person, and no other than the Son of God; who, though not as yet incarnate, appeared in a human form, as a presage of his future incarnation; though this was not a mere apparition, spectre, or phantasm, as Josephus F20 calls it; for it was not in a dream, or in a visionary way, that this wrestling and striving was between this divine Person in this form and Jacob, but in reality; it was a real substance which the Son of God formed, animated, actuated, and assumed, for that time and purpose, and then laid it aside; which touched Jacob, and he touched that, laid hold on it, and held it fast, and strove with it, and had power over it, and over God in it; even over him that is God over all, the true God and eternal life, the Lord Jesus Christ; not a created God, or God by office, but by nature; as the perfections that are in him, and the works and worship ascribed to him, declare: now Jacob had power over him "by his strength"; not by his natural strength; either of his body, which could not have been equal to the strength of this human body assumed for the time, as it was used and managed by a divine Person, unless he had been extraordinarily assisted and strengthened; or of his mind and soul, not by any spiritual strength he had of himself; but by what he had from this divine Person, with whom he wrestled; who put strength into him, and supported and increased the power and strength of faith in prayer; so that he prevailed over him, and got the blessing, for which reason his name was called Israel, ( Genesis 32:28 ) .

F20 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 20. sect. 2.

Hosea 12:3 In-Context

1 Ephraim herds the wind, and pursues the east wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence; they make a treaty with Assyria, and oil is carried to Egypt.
2 The Lord has an indictment against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways, and repay him according to his deeds.
3 In the womb he tried to supplant his brother, and in his manhood he strove with God.
4 He strove with the angel and prevailed, he wept and sought his favor; he met him at Bethel, and there he spoke with him.
5 The Lord the God of hosts, the Lord is his name!
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.