Genesis 32

1 Forsooth Jacob went forth in the way in which he began (And Jacob went forth on the way in which he began), and the angels of the Lord met him.
2 And when he had seen them, he said, These be the castles of God (These be the companies of God/This is God's camp); and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3 Soothly Jacob sent before him also messengers to Esau, his brother, into the land of Seir, in the country of Edom; (And Jacob sent messengers on before him to his brother Esau, who was in the land of Seir, in the country of Edom;)
4 and he commanded to them, and said, Thus speak ye to my lord Esau, (and say,) Thy brother Jacob saith these things, I have been a pilgrim at Laban (I have been living with Laban), and I was (there) till into this present day;
5 I have oxen, and asses, and sheep, and menservants, and handmaids, and I send now a message to my lord, that I find grace in thy sight. (I have oxen, and donkeys, and sheep, and male and female slaves, and I have sent this message to my lord, so that I may find grace in thy sight.)
6 And the messengers turned again to Jacob, and said, We came to Esau, thy brother, and lo! he hasteth him into thy coming, with four hundred men. (And the messengers returned to Jacob, and said, We came to thy brother Esau, and told him your message, and lo! now he hasteneth himself to come to meet thee, with four hundred men.)
7 Jacob dreaded greatly, and he was afeared, and he parted the people that was with him, and he parted the flocks, and sheep, and oxen, and camels, into two companies; (And Jacob greatly feared, and he was afraid, and so he divided all the people who were with him, as well as the flocks, and sheep, and oxen, and camels, into two groups;)
8 and he said, If Esau shall come to one company, and shall smite it, the other company which is left unsmitten, shall be saved. (and he said, If Esau shall come to one group, and shall strike them down, the other group which is left, shall be able to escape.)
9 And Jacob said, O! God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O! Lord, that saidest to me, Turn thou again into thy land, and to the place of thy birth, and I shall do well to thee (O! Lord, who saidest to me, Return thou to thy land, and to the place of thy birth, and I shall deal well with thee),
10 I am less than all thy merciful doings, and than (all) thy truth which thou hast [ful]filled to thy servant; with (only) my staff I passed (over) this Jordan, and now I go (back over) again with two companies; (I am not worthy of all thy merciful doings, and all thy faithfulness which thou hast shown to thy servant; for I crossed over this Jordan River with only my staff, and now I go back again with these two plentiful groups;)
11 deliver thou me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I dread him greatly (for I greatly fear him), lest he come and smite (me, and) the mothers with the sons.
12 Thou spakest that thou shouldest do well to me, and wouldest alarge my seed as [the] gravel of the sea, that may not be numbered for muchliness. (Thou saidest that thou wouldest deal well with me, and that thou wouldest enlarge my descendants like the gravel, or like the sand, of the sea, that cannot be counted for all of its muchliness.)
13 And when Jacob had slept there in that night, he separated of those things which he had, (as) gifts to Esau, his brother, (And after Jacob had slept there that night, he separated out from the things which he had, as gifts for his brother Esau,)
14 two hundred (she) goats, and twenty bucks of goats, (and) two hundred sheep, and twenty rams,
15 camels full with their foals thirty, forty kine, and twenty bulls, twenty she-asses, and [the] ten foals of them. (thirty milk camels with their foals, forty cows, and twenty bulls, and twenty female donkeys, and their ten foals.)
16 And he sent by the hands of his servants all the flocks by themselves; and he said to his servants, Go ye before me, and (let) a space be betwixt (a) flock and (a) flock.
17 And he commanded to the former, and said, If thou shalt meet my brother Esau, and he shall ask thee, whose man thou art, or whither thou goest, or whose be these things which thou followest, (And he commanded to the first servant, and said, When thou shalt meet my brother Esau, and he shall ask thee, Whose man art thou? and where goest thou? and whose things be these which thou followest?)
18 thou shalt answer, (They be) Of thy servant Jacob; he hath sent (them as) gifts to his lord Esau, and he cometh after us.
19 In like manner, he gave commandments to the second, and to the third (he gave the same orders to the second, and the third servants), and to all that followed the flocks; and said, Speak ye by the same words to Esau, when ye find him,
20 and ye shall add, Also Jacob himself thy servant followeth our way (and ye shall add, And thy servant Jacob himself followeth on our way). For Jacob said, I shall please Esau with (the) gifts that go before (me), and (then) afterward I shall see him; in hap he shall be merciful to me.
21 And so the gifts went before him; soothly he dwelled in that night in the tents.
22 And when Jacob had risen hastily, he took his two wives, and so many handmaids, with (his) eleven sons, and he passed (over) the ford of Jabbok. (And during the night Jacob rose up, and hastily he took his two wives, and the two slave-girls, and his eleven sons, and they all crossed over the ford of Jabbok, or the Jabbok Crossing.)
23 And when all things that pertained to him were led over, (And then he returned, and saw that everything had been taken over,)
24 (and) Jacob dwelled (there) alone, and, lo! a man (came, and) wrestled with him till to the morrowtide.
25 And when the man saw that he might not overcome Jacob, he touched the sinew of Jacob's hip, and it dried anon (and it dried up at once).
26 And he said to Jacob, Let go thou me, for the morrowtide goeth up now. Jacob answered, I shall not let go thee, no but thou bless me. (And he said to Jacob, Let me go, for the morning cometh now. And Jacob answered, I shall not let thee go, unless thou bless me.)
27 Therefore he said, What name is to thee? (And) He answered, Jacob.
28 And the man said, Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel; for if thou were strong against God, how much more shalt thou have power against men.
29 Jacob asked him, Say thou to me by what name thou art called? He answered, Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful? And he blessed Jacob in the same place. (And Jacob said to him, Tell thou to me by what name thou art called. And he answered, Why askest thou my name? And then he blessed Jacob there.)
30 And Jacob called the name of that place Penuel, and said, I saw the Lord face to face, and my life is made safe. (And Jacob named that place Peniel, or The face of God, saying, For I saw the Lord face to face, and yet my life was spared.)
31 And anon the sun rose to him, after that he had passed (over from) Penuel; forsooth he halted in the foot. (And the sun rose up as he left Peniel; and he limped because of his hip.)
32 For which cause the sons of Israel eat not unto this present day the sinew, (like that) that dried in the hip of Jacob (For this reason, the Israelites do not eat the sinew, like that which dried up in Jacob's hip, unto this present day); for the man touched the sinew of Jacob's hip, and it dried (up).

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.

Chapter Summary


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

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.