Genesis  32:1-32


Verse 1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

I.    Jacob continued going toward Canaan after Laban left.  There is approximately 22 miles between Galeed and Mahanaim.  One major obstacle is behind him, but there is a greater ahead.  If we never overcome the smaller difficulties in our life, how do we expect to overcome the larger difficulties of life?  God will always give us small difficulties to overcome before He gives us large ones.  If we don't overcome the smaller difficulties, we may "sink" when the large difficulties come along.


II.   If Jacob had never gone on his way, he would never have met the angels of God.

A.  He would never have had his name changed.

B.   He would never have meet Esau again.

C.   He would never have received forgiveness from Esau.

D.  He would never have been at peace in Canaan.

E.   He would never have received the promises of God.

F    .He would always live in constant fear that Esau would find him and hurt him.


III. God never lets us go through any trial or difficulty by ourselves.  He is always with us to guide us through, even though we sometimes think we are traveling alone.


IV. The truth is that Esau probably knew where Jacob was for the past 20 years.  He could have come up to Pandanaram at any time and killed him, then sneaked back home.  The grace of God in keeping us safe when we ought to be killed is amazing indeed.


V.  Psalms 91:11, 12 - God shall give His angels charge over us, lest we dash our foot upon a stone.

A.  Numbers 22:24,25 - Balaam's donkey saw the angel of God and crushed Balaam's foot against the rock wall.

B.   Matthew 4:5-7 - Jesus being tempted by Satan, who told him that God would take care of Him if He jumped off the pinnacle of the temple by sending his angels.  Jesus said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."


VI. II Kings 6:15-17 - Elisha was compassed by the horses and chariots of fire (from God) when Ahab send his armies to take him.


VII.      Notice that the angels of God met Jacob, he didn't go looking for them.  God will met us in the way because he so loves His people that He will go looking for them.  Our part is to recognize the messengers of God when we see them.


Verse 2  And when Jacob saw them, he said, This [is] God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

I.    What did the angels of God look like?

A.  There is no record of what they looked like.

B.   We do not that Jacob knew who they were and what they were.

C.   I believe they appeared in human form, but there is no scripture that says that.

1.   When angels appear to others, they always appear in human form.

2.   Judges 6:1 - The angel that appeared to Gideon, promising him victory in Christ.  Gideon didn't know it was an angel until the angel commanded fire to come out of the rock, and then disappeared.

3.   Judges 13:19-23 - The angel that appeared to Samson's parents (Manoah and is wife, who is unnamed).  Verse 16 - Manoah knew not that he was an angel.

4.   Luke 24:4 - The angels that appeared in the tomb after the resurrection of Christ.

5.   Acts 1:10 - The angels that appeared to the apostles at the ascension of Christ.


II.   How did Jacob know they were the Lord's host?

A.  Genesis 19 - The same way Lot knew the two angels were of God.

B.   God had to open his eyes so he would know.

C.   When you are in trouble, and you are looking for the blessings of God, you will know when you see His hosts.  Nobody will have to tell you, you will tell them.


III. Jacob had no fear of the angels of God.  Rather it seemed he took comfort in their presence.

A.  The Jews say that the host of God is 60,000.  Therefore they believe there was 120,000 (there were two camps) to fight for Jacob.  The problem with this is that Jacob didn't find any comfort in having 120,000 on his side.  He was still afraid of Esau, who had only 400 on his side!

1.   I don't know where the Jews get the idea that the host of God is 60,000.

2.   I don't know how many angels were there, but I know there was more than one.

3.   Verse 1 - Jacob says the angels (plural) of God met him.

4.   Verse 2 - When Jacob saw them (plural).

5.   When Jacob wrestled with God, he only wrestled with one, not many.

6.   Jacob's confidence was in one (God), not in the host of God.  God will fight His own battles, he won't send His angels to fight in His place.


IV. There is no record that anybody except Jacob saw the angels of God.  There is also no record that says that only Jacob saw them.


V.  The name Mahanaim means "two camps".  I suppose this means one camp refers to the camp of the angels of God and the second camp refers to Jacob's camp.  I do not believe there are two camps of the host of God.



MAHANAIM (May huh nay' ihm) Place name meaning, "two camps." City somewhere in the hill country of Gilead on the tribal borders of Gad and eastern Manasseh (Josh. 13:26,30). It was a Levitical city (Josh. 21:38). It served as a refuge twice: for Ishbosheth after Saul's death (2 Sam. 2:8-9), and for David when Absalom usurped the throne (2 Sam. 17:24-27). During Solomon's administration, the city served as a district capital (1 Kings 4:14). German archaeologists locate it at tell Heggog, half a mile south of Penuel, while Israelis point to tell edh-Dhabab el Gharbi.[1]

Mahanaim is probably located on the brook Jabbok.  Jacob traveled from Padanaram south until he came to this river, which would lead him into Canaan.  He followed this river west until it came to the River Jordan.  Just 4 miles west of Mahanaim is Peniel, where Jacob wrestled with God.  Jacob evidently met Jacob at Peniel, then traveled to Succoth, (33:17) which was still on the east side of Jordan.  In Gen. 33:18, Jacob traveled on to Shalem, a city of Shechem, (on the west side of the river Jordan) where he pitched his tent in the land of Canaan.  It was very practical for Jacob to slowly travel along the brook Jabbok.  It was public water, and he could freely water his flocks with no repercussions from anybody.  Evidently he stayed here until Gen. 35:1 when God commanded him to go to Bethel (Luz).


The above map is in error concerning the path Jacob took to return to Canaan.  The map below is closer, even though it isn't as pretty.



VI. Jacob had traveled some 22 miles (from Galeed to Mahanaim) when he met the angels of God.  He has this protection from God as added assurance that God is with him.  It is interesting to note that Esau has some 130 miles to travel to meet Jacob.  And the distance Esau has to travel is very mountainous, then desert.  There are variations in altitude of 5,600 feet to 0 feet.  He will travel by the Dead Sea, and its barrenness.  It is also very interesting to note that Esau can travel all the way from his home to Mahanaim without getting into the territory (the land of Canaan) promised to Jacob by God.


Verse 3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.


SEIR (see' uhr) Place name meaning, "hairy" and thus "thicket" or "small forested region." A mountain range which runs the length of biblical Edom, leading at times to an equation of Edom and Seir. Parts of the range are almost impassable. The highest peak is about 5,600 feet about sea level. The region was home to Esau and his descendants (Gen. 32:3; Josh. 24:4). Some documents found in Egypt seem to make Seir and Edom two different tribal habitats, and it is possible that at times in its history the area was ruled over simultaneously by several local clans. The "sons of Seir" represented an early Horite clan from the region. See Edom.[2]


I.    The Horites were the "original" inhabitants of Mount Seir, and they seemed to be cave dwellers.  At least the Hebrew word "hor" means cave.  Some believe Esau married into the family of Horites, called Seir, and gradually became more powerful (under the blessing of God according to the promise given to him by his father), and the land took on his name.  Others believe Esau drove out the Horites, taking the land for himself.  I don't suppose there is a way to know exactly what happened, but it is sure that the land finally belonged to Esau.


II.   There doesn't seem to be any significance in the fact that the mountain range is called the land of Seir, the country of Edom.  It is the same place, and besides the word "land" and the word "country" indicate an area of habitation.


III. Jacob send notice to Esau right away.

A.  It always seems easier to put off to tomorrow that thing we dread to do today.  But it only adds to the difficulty later.  Jacob is a businessman and is accustomed to taking care of business as it comes up, therefore, he takes care of this business as soon as possible.


IV. Jacob knew where Esau lived.  There is no doubt in my mind that Esau also knew where Jacob lived, and where he had spend the past 20 years.  If Esau had wanted, he could have already killed Jacob, but Isaac was still alive, therefore Esau was still waiting for his dad to die, then he would kill Jacob.

A.  Esau seems to have moved from his father's house.  He has taken the promise given to him by God and acted on that promise.  It really looks like God is blessing him.

B.   Some might deny it, but it seems to me that there was some communication between Jacob and his family all the years he was away.  I know that families often communicate over long distances, and I don't believe this family would be any exception.  Jacob knew his dad was still alive, and he also knew where Esau lived.  This would be a matter of common family communication.


Verse 4  And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

I.    The word "lord" does not begin with a capital letter, thus Jacob is not comparing Esau with God.  The word "lord" in this place means master.


II.   The word "servant" means slave, man-servant, subject, or servant (as a form of address between equals).


III. Jacob tries to explain to Esau that he sojourned with Laban.  It was not his intention to leave the land of Canaan and never return.  It is not like he left with the intention of never returning, but left with the intention of coming back to claim the promise God gave to him.  Jacob doesn't mention the promise of the birthright, but I am sure Jacob knows Esau will know that is what he is talking about.


Verse 5  And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

I.    Why does Jacob tell Esau all about his wealth?

A.  Some might believe Jacob is bragging about all his possessions.  I don't believe Jacob is bragging, but is stating that God has begun to fulfill the birthright promise to him.

1.   A part of the birthright promise is that Jacob will receive from God the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine, Gen. 27:28.

2.   Jacob uses the phrase "that I may find grace in thy sight."  Jacob tells this to Esau, not that he might be mad, but that Esau would understand that God is blessing him without taking anything away from Esau.

3.   Since grace naturally flows from a higher to a lower, Jacob indicates to Esau that he is at his mercy.  There is no doubt that Jacob has stolen the birthright, and that Jacob is "above" Esau as far as heavenly blessings are concerned.  But this doesn't mean that Jacob is above Esau in trying to be lord and master over him.  Jacob recognizes his position and the justice due him by Esau.

4.   Proverbs 15:1 - "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger."  That was true then, and it is true now.  When you know that someone is justly angry with you, don't stir him up more by trying to yell louder than he is.  Give a soft answer.  There will be a time later when your point can be made and will be heard.


Verse 6  And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

I.    There is no record that there was any conversation between the messengers of Jacob and Esau.


II.   Esau's travelers.

A.  There is no mention that the 400 men had weapons with them.  Whether they did or not, I do not know.  It seems likely, however, from the way the story turned out, that Esau simply gathers together many friends who travel with him to meet his long departed brother.

B.   There is no mention there are any women with Esau.  This fact gives Jacob the impression that his brother intends to pick a fight with him.

C.   It could be that Esau has all these men with him in order to show Jacob how God has blessed him!

D.  There is really no way to fully understand what Esau had on his mind.  And it just might be that Esau changed his mind in route.


II.   I suppose this is a good place to mention this:  God didn't appear to Esau, warning him not to speak good or evil of Jacob.  God did appear to Laban.  If we compare Esau and Laban, Esau wins the test of compassion and spiritual understand hands down with Laban.  Jacob will have a lot of trouble with the meeting between he and his brother, but apparently Esau has none.


Verse 7, 8  Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that [was] with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; {8} And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

I.    Jacob is reading the worse into the situation.  There is no real evidence that Esau is coming toward him to do him harm, yet all Jacob remembers is the final words of Esau, "I will kill you when Dad is dead."  For all Jacob knows (communication was slow in those days) Isaac has died, and now Esau is free to kill him.

A.  Jacob was afraid of Laban, yet didn't divide his goods and family into two parts like he does here.

1.   Time has sharpened Jacob's awareness of his sin against Esau.

2.   Often when we think upon a bad thing, it gets bigger and bigger in our mind.


II.   Jacob's plan will keep ½ of his people and goods from destruction.  There is nothing wrong with the plan, but he didn't ask God what he ought to do before he did it.  It is always better to ask God even if we believe our plans are good ones.  God just might have other things in mind that are much better than ours.

A.  I think it is very interesting to note that Jacob didn't really believe the promises of God.  In verse 9, Jacob reminds God that He said He would be with him and would deal well with him.  This is what comes out of Jacob's mouth, but his actions speak otherwise.

B.   Before you think I am criticizing Jacob unjustly, I remind you that I am exactly like Jacob.  I know the promises of God, but often do not trust those promises.  Often times I make plans and don't ask God what He would have me do.


III. I certainly don't intend to criticize a great man like Jacob (because it is never good to criticize a man of God), but it is very clear at this point in his life, that he is not totally dependent upon God.

A.  He is probably 94 years old, yet has to learn that God is able to take care of him.  He is more fully "progressively sanctified" than he was 20 years ago when he had to leave home because he stole his brothers birthright, but he is not as "progressively sanctified" as he will be in Gen. 47:7-10.

B.   In this place, Jacob is 130 years old and goes in before Pharaoh.  There Jacob blesses Pharaoh upon first seeing him and upon taking leave.  His answer to Pharaoh about his age shows great grace and understanding of his life, position, and power.  His answer shows his dependency on God and his great faith in His ability to keep him safe in all circumstances.


Jacob's Prayer

Jacob has a plan, (verse 7,8) then has a prayer. (verse 9-12)

This ought to be reversed.


There are three ways of looking at this:

1.   Jacob is trusting all he can do before he asks God to help him.

2.   Jacob is doing all that is humanly possible to do, and asking God to bless his efforts.

3.   Jacob is doing all that is humanly possible to do, not depending on those efforts, but is completely trusting God to make things right.


Verse 9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

I.    Jacob recognizes God who is over him.  He realizes He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


II.   It seems Jacob is more interested in finding safety than he is in glorifying God for who He is.  I don't really blame him, because this is what most of us do in times of trouble and distress.


III. Jacob relates to God how he is following his commandments in returning to Canaan, and the promise he has receive from God for safety.  Jacob is referring to the promise given in Gen. 27:15 where God tells him He will keep him in all places where he goes, and will bring him again to the land of his father.  There is a part of the promise that indicates that God will not always bless Jacob: "...until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."  It may be that this is the point of blessing that worries Jacob.  He doesn't really know how much longer God will be with him, but he knows he isn't in the land of Canaan yet.  He fully expects God to fulfill His promises, but it is always better when all if finished.


IV. I will deal well with thee.

A.  This is the promise God gave to Jacob, but Jacob really doesn't believe it.  If he did, he wouldn't have devised the plan for dividing his household into sections in order to preserve them in case God's plan failed.

B.   When we are doing the clear will of God, we ought to also have confidence that God is leading us and will protect us.

1.   There is no doubt that Jacob is following the clear revealed will of God.

2.   God has spoken to him about how to get wealth by building the special places for the animals to breed.

3.   God blessed him in allowing the animals to breed as they did, even causing the pure bred cattle to produce spotted, ring straked, and speckled cattle.

4.   God spoke to him when it was time to return to Canaan.

5.   God spoke to Laban, telling him not to say anything good or bad about Jacob.  Jacob knows this happened because Laban told him.

C.   Jacob could look back and see all that God has done, then can have confidence in looking forward.

1.   It is very amazing how alike Jacob we all are.

2.   It is very easy, sometimes, to look back and see the great ways God has blessed us.

3.   At the same time, it is sometimes very difficult to look ahead, see trouble, and trust God to continue to bless us and keep us safe.


Verse 10  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

I.    Jacob is speaking the truth about receiving the mercies of God.

A.  The reason this has become clear to him is because of the circumstances he is in.

1.   Often times circumstances make us see how great God is and how great sinners we are.

2.   It is sad, but when pour troubles are over, we often forget how great God is and how great sinners we are!

B.   Nothing has made Jacob worthy of the blessings of God.

1.   The troubles he went through in Laban's house didn't make him worthy.

2.   Even the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob hasn't made him worthy.


II.   Jacob passing over Jordan.  Jacob is referring to the time he crossed Jordan some 20 years ago.

A.  Mahanaim is on the east side of Jordan, and this is the place where he met the angels of God, who continue to travel with him.

B.   Peniel is also on the east side of Jordan, where Jacob will wrestle with God.

C.   Succoth is on the east side of Jordan, where Jacob pitches his tent after he meets Esau.

D.  Jacob doesn't cross Jordan (enter the promised land) until after he meets the angels of God, God, and Esau.

1.   Jacob will meet Esau on the east side of the promised land.

2.   Jacob will not enter the promised land until he has wrestled with God and won.

3.   Moses didn't enter into the promised land because there was the sin of rebellion in his life.


III. He has now become two bands.

A.  He is speaking about the dividing of his household into two separate parts.

B.   I don't think he is talking about the "two bands of Mahanaim."


Verse 11  Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, [and] the mother with the children.

I.    Jacob prays for help in his present evil circumstance.  This is not wrong, and shouldn't be considered to be wrong.  It is always good to ask God to help us out of trouble, even if we get into trouble all by ourselves.  We also ought to remember that same God when our troubles are over.  There is such a thing as thanking God for the blessings He gives us.

A.  Jacob freely admits to God that he is afraid of his brother.

B.   It is always good for us to admit to God what we are afraid of.

1.   God already knows it anyway.

2.   We ought to be completely honest with God in everything, because He already knows it all anyway.


II.   It is good to ask God to fulfill his promises.  Some believe it is wrong to ask God to do that which He has already said He would do, but this is error.  God has promised to save the lost: shouldn't we ask Him to do it?  God has promised to watch over us: shouldn't we ask Him to do it?  God has promised to watch over our children: shouldn't we ask Him to do it?


III. smite me, [and] the mother with the children.  This shows the total fear of Jacob for his brother, and what Jacob thinks Esau will do.  In Jacob's mind, Esau's anger is so hot against him that he will not be appeased until every sign that Jacob ever lived is destroyed.


Verse 12  And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jacob asking God to fulfill his promise to keep him and make him prosperous.


Jacob prepares a present for Esau

Verse 13-23


Verse 13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;



Verse 14  Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,



Verse 15  Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.



Verse 16  And he delivered [them] into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.



Verse 17  And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose [art] thou? and whither goest thou? and whose [are] these before thee?



Verse 18  Then thou shalt say, [They be] thy servant Jacob's; it [is] a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he [is] behind us.



Verse 19  And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.

I.    This verse is where we generally get the idea that Jacob divided the gifts into three droves.

A.  But notice the Bible says, "...and all that followed the droves,"

B.   It could be there were five droves:

1.   one for the goats,  (220)

2.   a second for the sheep, (220)

3.   a third for the camels and colts, (60)

4.   a fourth for the kine and bulls, (50)

5.   and a fifth for the asses with their foals. (30)


II.   The common thought is that there were three droves.

A.  The first drove would contain 220 goats; male and female.

B.   The second drove contained 220 sheep, male and female.

C.   The third drove contained that which was left:

1.   60 camels; 30 camels with their colts

2.   50 cows; 40 kine, 10 bulls

3.   30 asses; 20 she asses and 10 foals

5.   140 animals: total


III. I think if I was making up the droves, I would make them up into three droves.  That way each drove would be fairly large.  Making the droves up into five groups would force the droves Esau met last to be smaller.


III. If it is true that Jacob has 5,500 animals, he would give 580 of them to Esau, or 10.5%.  This is a notable offering.

In Gen. 28:22, Jacob promised to give a tithe unto the Lord if he would keep him safe.  Is this what he is doing?  If he gives the tithe to Esau is Jacob recognizing that Esau is the rightful heir to the birthright, but that he has it as a gift of God?

Is there another place in the Bible where Jacob gives a tithe to God?  I don't think so.


Verse 20  And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob [is] behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.



Verse 21  So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

Jacob went to bed that night in the company of his household and flocks.  He had sent the droves on ahead of him.


Verse 22  And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

Apparently Jacob couldn't sleep that night, and rose up during the night, and took his family to the ford on the river Jabbok where they passed over to the other side.  They would follow the droves, and be the last people Esau saw before he came face to face with Jacob.  It looks like Jacob stayed on the north side of Jabbok that night and wrestled with God alone.  The next morning (see verse 31) he passed over the ford and then in chapter 33 meets Esau face to face.


Verse 23  And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

This verse is further confirmation that Jacob spend the night on the north side of the ford Jabbok alone. 


Verse 24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

There are some things you must face alone.  There may be people all around you, but you must face it alone.  You may be able to put things off for a long time, but there comes a time when you must face it - and face it alone.  All may seem to forsake you as you wrestle with God, but they are there, and they care for you.


I believe the man Jacob is wrestling with is God.  There comes a time when people must wrestle with God in the problems facing them.


Verse 25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

I.    God did not prevail against Jacob.  It isn't that God couldn't prevail against Jacob because He is terribly much stronger, but He wouldn't.  God allowed Jacob to wrestle against Him just like He allows us to wrestle with Him.  God's intentions is that our faith in His precious promises would grow exceedingly.  It is through exercise of faith (believing the promises of God) that our faith grows.  A faith that isn't exercised, doesn't grow, but becomes weaker.  There will be harder trials ahead, and Jacob needs spiritual strength to continue to overcome.

A.  Example:  A baby chick must peck its way out of the egg.  A very strong person might watch the very weak chick slowly and laboriously peck its way out of the egg.  Someone might think it would be much better for the baby chick if it didn't have to peck its own way out of the egg, let the strong person break the egg for the chick.  The result is a very weak chick which will soon die.

B.   Another example:  Parents sometimes believe it is better for their children if they didn't have to work for what they have.  Let the parents work and earn it and then give it to the children. The result is children that believe the world owes them a living, and expects the world to give them what they need.  They become extremely weak adults, always expecting a handout.


II.   God touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh.

A.  This touch made a physical difference in Jacob.

1.   Wrestling with God to receive His promises causes a physical difference in people even today.

2.   Their personality will be changed because they have come into contact with a higher power than themselves and they have gained a new and very important view of God.

B.   God touching the hollow of Jacob's thigh shows Jacob that God is stronger.  Jacob hasn't won because of his strength or stubbornness.  It is by grace that Jacob has won and he knows it.  He will not be able to brag about his victory, but realizes the extent of grace God gave him. 

C.   Verse 31 - Jacob limping upon his thigh shows that the wrestling were real.

1.   This is not a symbolic wrestling.

2.   It is a literal physical wrestling.

3.   Praying to God because of His promises is actual physical wrestlings.


Verse 26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Deut. 9:18 - Moses was persistent in his praying for Israel.  This is importunity praying.

Luke 11:8 - The one who prayed with importunity receives an answer to his prayer.  Sometimes importunity praying comes only after we have discovered there are things we can't control. 


Verse 27  And he said unto him, What [is] thy name? And he said, Jacob. 

I.    Why did God ask Jacob his name? 

A.     It is apparent God knew.

1.       God knows everything. 

2.       It is also apparent Jacob knows his name, as he has had that name all his life.

B.     God wanted to know more than just Jacob’s name.

1.       Jacob must confess not only his name, but in confessing his name, he confesses what the name means. 

a.       Jacob means “heel holder” or “supplanter”. 

b.       Jacob tricked Esau to get the birthright.

c.       Jacob tricked his dad to seal the birthright to him, stealing it from Esau. 

2.       In Genesis 27:18,19, Jacob lied to his dad, telling him he was Esau. 

3.       Jacob must confess to God his true name, before he can receive the blessings of God in salvation. 

a.       The only way a person can receive salvation is to come to Christ, understanding and confessing exactly what they are – a deceiver, a supplanter and unworthy of eternal life. 

b.       Jacob had received many blessings from God before he received eternal life, just as Abraham and Cornelius. 

II.    Abraham received many blessings from God before he truly believed to eternal life. 

A.     We normally think people being saved works like this: 

1.       Lost people hear the preaching or teaching of the word, and come under conviction, then are saved, then are scripturally baptized, then become members of a local church, then become faithful to God through that local church. 

2.       That is the order of many people, but it is not the order of every person. 

3.       While there is nothing wrong with that order, that may not always be the order God uses. 

4.       It is extremely important for every person to pay close attention to the directives given to them by God and to be obedient to him. 

5.       It is important that lost people obey God in praying, in studying the Bible, in church attendance, in giving tithes and offerings, and generally living the life of a saved, scripturally baptized person who is completely dedicated to following God.

B.     Their good works will not save them, but remember, there is no excuse for sin on anybody’s part. 

1.       I know some people teach that it is okay for a lost person to sin, because they are lost, and committing sin will teach them what a bad sinner they are. 

2.       I do not believe lost people should sin, but when they sin, they should ask God to forgive them of that particular sin.

3.       Mrs. Annie Alls continually telling my oldest son, Kevin, to keep on seeking the Lord and to keep on asking Christ to save him. 

C.     The many things God directed Abram to do before he was saved.

1.       Genesis 12:1-4 – age 75 – God called Abraham to follow him.

2.       Genesis 12:8 – Abraham called on the name of the Lord.

3.       Genesis 12:17 – God protected Sarah from Pharaoh.

4.       Genesis 13:14 – God renewed his promise to Abraham when Lot left.

5.       Genesis 14 – Abram saved Lot from the kings and he gave tithes to Melchizedek.

D.     Abraham is saved in Genesis 15:6, after he had obeyed the Lord in the many things above.

1.       Genesis 15 – age 85 – Abram given promise again, Abram now fully understands.

2.       Genesis 15:11-18 – God fulfilled the promise to Abraham after Abram went to sleep.

3.       Genesis 16,17 – 99 years old – Promise again.

4.       Genesis 17:24 – circumcised at 99 years old.

E.      The gospel is preached to Abraham, through the promise of God. 

1.       Galatians 3:8 – And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations. 

2.       Many deny the gospel is presented to Abraham Genesis 15, but Galatians 3:8 says it was. 

F.      See the word “seed”. 

1.       Genesis 12:3 – This verse is quoted in Galatians 3:8.  But Abraham did not understand the promise of God, nor did he understand the gospel message.

2.       Galatians 3:16 – Compare to Genesis 12:7 – God told Abraham he would give the land to his seed.

3.       Genesis 13:14-16 – The promise is a spiritual promise, but Abraham was seeing only the physical parts of the promise.  The word “seed” refers to Jesus Christ, not to the direct descendant of Abraham and Sarah.

4.       Genesis 15:3 – Abraham complains to God that God has given him no seed, referring to his physical children, but God is not referring to physical children, but to Jesus Christ.  It is at this point that Abraham understands the spiritual message that the messiah will come through his descendants. 

a.       Genesis 15:5 – God told Abraham to look at the stars.

b.       Genesis 15:13 – Israel, including the seed, which is Christ, will be in bondage 430 years – according to Galatians 3:17.

c.       Genesis 15:18 – The covenant is made by God while Abraham is asleep.

d.       Genesis 16:10 – God will multiply the seed of Sarah exceedingly.

G.     See also Acts 10 – Cornelius was lost, but did many things.

1.       He was faithful to God,

a.       Stood out as being faithful,

b.       He prayed,

c.       He gave alms,

d.       He was devout,

e.       Acts 10:7 – send two household servants and a devout soldier to Joppa to get Peter.

2.       Acts 10:33 – Cornelius gathered many together (verse 27) to hear what God had to say to them.

a.       Peter preached Christ, and they were saved.

b.       Acts 11:14 – Peter was “called on the carpet” by the apostles and brethren, but Peter recounted the entire episode to them, stating that he was called to tell them words whereby they could be saved.

3.       Acts 8:26-40 – The Ethiopian Eunuch went to Jerusalem to worship, yet was lost.  He was reading the book of Isaiah 53, yet was lost. 

a.       He could not understand the clear gospel message unless some man should guide him, which is what Phillip did. 

b.       When the Eunuch was saved, he was scripturally baptized, then Phillip went on his way rejoicing.


Verse 28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

This is the first time in the entire Bible the name “Israel” is used. 

Jacob means "supplanter" but Israel means "God prevails".  God truly always prevails, but now He prevails within Jacob.  I believe Jacob is ready at this point to submit himself to anything and everything God has for him.  This is not an easy position to come to, but it is a very necessary one for the child of God.  In his later life, Jacob will face many things that are hard, (the loss of Joseph and the trip to Egypt).  Although he mourns over these losses, he accepts them as God's will.  This is how we ought to be.


Verse 29  And Jacob asked [him], and said, Tell [me], I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore [is] it [that] thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

It is interesting that Jacob asked God his name, yet God would not tell him.  There is no victory for Jacob, the victory is God’s alone.  If God had given his name at this point, Jacob would have been elated in his “conquest”, and the blessing destroyed.  If God had given his name, Jacob would have considered this a victory over God, as God would now do as Jacob pleased.  This would not happen.  Genesis 49:10 reveals that on his deathbed, Israel knows the name of God – Shiloh, (referring to the Messiah) which is also translated by the words safety, prosper, and happy. 


Verse 30  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

The word "Peniel" means "facing God".  The same place as Penuel.  See verse 31 for the difference in spelling.


Verse 31  And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

I.    Jacob halting upon his thigh is a physical sign of a spiritual condition.  There are those that say spiritual values never show up in the body.  This is not so.  James 2:14-26 tells how faith and works go together to show what the heart believes.


II.   The sun rose.  This shows that Jacob and God wrestled all night, but the sun shining shows that Jacob went on his way with the blessings of God.  It was not a rainy day, a dismal, discouraging day, where a person doesn't want to get outside and do anything.  It is a beautiful day - a day in which Jacob can readily meet any challenge before him.  God is with him.


Verse 32  Therefore the children of Israel eat not [of] the sinew which shrank, which [is] upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

As far as I can discover, the Jews do not eat any of the hind quarters of sacrifices to this very day.  They have a whole chapter in one of their treatises in the Misnah, giving rules concerning it.[3]

This is not good.  There is no command of God not to eat this part of the sacrifice.  Israel has made this rule and added to the commandments of God.

We need to be very careful lest we make rules that God didn't make and add them to the Word of God.  The Pharisees did this - teaching for commandments the traditions of men.

Matt. 15:9 - But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men.

Men often make gods of the symbols of righteousness and holiness.

[1]Holiman Bible Dictionary, Parsons Technology, Article "Mahanaim".

[2]Holiman Bible Dictionary, Parsons Technology, Article "Seir".

[3]Cholin. c. 7. sect. 1.3.  See Exposition of the Old & New Testaments, John Gill, Volume 1, page 220, column 1, footnote