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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 32

 

 

Verses 1-32


The Approach of Esau. Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

1. The angels of God] God had given Jacob, by an angelic vision, a pledge of His watchful love, when he left his home (Genesis 28:12). Now that he was returning to Canaan after twenty years, and with dangers at hand, God renews this assurance by another heavenly vision.

2. God's host] Heb. Mahanaim. It was an important city in Gilead.

3. The land of Seir] or Edom, S. of the Dead Sea, where Esau settled (Genesis 36:8).

6, 7. Esau's large retinue alarms Jacob, since their parting had been a hostile one.

9-12. Jacob's prayer is a pattern of humility, earnestness, and faith in God's promises.

10. With my staff, etc.] When Jacob first left Canaan he was a lonely way-farer with no companion but his staff: now, blest by, God, he returns with a numerous family and large possessions.

22. The ford Jabbok] i.e. 'wrestler.' Read, 'the ford of the Jabbok,' a stream which flows from the neighbourhood of Rabbath Amnion into the Jordan opposite Shechem.

24-32. The writer of this passage, it can hardly be doubted, was thinking of a physical wrestling. Like the men of his day, he had not reached the idea of the purely spiritual nature of God, and could only conceive of Him in a materialistic way. Practically, it is thus God is still thought and spoken of, as pure spirit is a condition of being which it is hardly possible for us to understand. In the narrative there is portrayed a spiritual experience through which Jacob passed at a critical moment of his life, and in which he received the final lesson that humbled and broke down his self-will, and convinced him that he could not snatch the blessing from God's hand, but must accept it as a gift of grace.

28. Israel] 'Perseverer with God.' 'As the name was to the Hebrews the symbol or expression of the nature, the change of name is significant of the moral change in the patriarch himself; he is no longer Jacob the Supplanter, the Crafty one, the Overreacher, but Israel the Perseverer with God, who is worthy also to prevail': cp. Hosea 12:4. 'The incident serves to explain further the name Penuel, “Face of God” “for,” said Jacob, “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved” (in allusion to the belief that no one could “see God and live,” Exodus 19:21; Exodus 33:20; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22). The narrator deduces also from this incident the custom of not eating in animals the muscle corresponding to the one which was strained in Jacob's thigh; it was treated as sacred through the touch of God.' See HDB. art. 'Jacob.' As a prince hast thou power] RV 'Thou hast striven.'

29. Wherefore is it, etc.] i.e. Surely you must know who I am.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/genesis-32.html. 1909.

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