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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Genesis 32



Verses 1-32

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau- As Jacob continues on his journey, we see a man who has left an enemy behind and has to face an enemy before him. He has deceived both Laban and Esau. Jacob lacked the strength to overcome either enemy. It is at this point that God divinely intervenes in Jacob's life again in order to preserve the righteous seed that will produce the nation of Israel.

Genesis 32:2Word Study on "Mahanaim" - Strong says the Hebrew word "Mahanaim" ( מַחֲנַיִם) (H 4266) literally means, "double camp."

Genesis 32:1-2Comments- The Angels Meet Jacob- The comments in Genesis 32:1-2 about the angels of God meeting Jacob, and how he called them "God's host," and named the place "Mahanaim" (H 4266), which means "double camp" (Strong), is an important element in this story. Jacob needed a miracle because Esau was fully intent upon killing Jacob.

Illustration- In 1987 my mother was near death while lying in bed at home. The Lord opened her eyes and ears and she began to hear the marching of foot soldiers. She then saw an army of angels dressed for battle marching past her bed. This vision strengthened her spiritually. At short time later while in the hospital she again came near death and saw the very same vision. I believe that Esau and his men saw just such a vision of angels dressed for battle.

A few years later my brother Steve lay very ill in his living room one night. All of a sudden he left his body behind and found himself standing before the Lord Jesus. When Steve stood before the Lord he was asked if he were read for His Second Coming. At that time Steve saw an army of angels marching down to earth singing the song of the Jubilee. After a short while my brother returned into his body. I believe that David and other kings of Judah won many battles because of this army of angels who fought in their behalf.

Genesis 32:11 — "Deliver me" - Comments- While reading this passage, Psalm 34:7 was quickened to me.

Psalm 34:7, "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."

We see from Genesis 32:1-2 that a host of angels was with Jacob.

Genesis 32:1-2, "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God"s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim."

Genesis 32:24 — "and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day" - Comments- This man that wrestled with Jacob is called an angel in Hosea 12:4.

Hosea 12:4, "Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;"

In addition, Hosea says that Jacob entered two struggles in his life: (1) at his natural birth in the womb with his brother ( Genesis 25:26, Hosea 12:3), and (2) at his "spiritual" birth with an angel ( Genesis 32:24).

Genesis 25:26, "And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau"s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them."

Hosea 12:3, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:"

Genesis 32:24, "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."

Genesis 32:25Comments- Jacob was a shepherd, or herdsman, and depended upon the strength of his legs to walk with the flocks daily. His legs represented his physical strength. When he lost full use of his legs, it was figurative of his strength giving place to his faith in God"s strength to become his provider.

Jacob had been a hard worker ( Genesis 31:40). A man who works hard takes much pride in his physical strength. Now, with a weak thigh, he became less mobile, and more dependent upon the Lord. This physical weakness allowed him to sit down and spend much time meditating on the God of Abraham and Isaac and how his forefathers lived their lives. With this weakness came a transformation in Jacob"s character. With this transformation came a new name. He would now be known as Israel.

Genesis 31:40, "Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes."

We no longer see Jacob working with deceit, but rather, we see Israel walking with God. Jacob had stolen a birthright, he had deceived his father, and he had negotiated sheep with Laban. He had spent his entire life making his own decisions. Here at Peniel, Jacob died to himself. With a limb, he could no longer go where he wanted to go. For the first time in his life, he became totally depend upon God. exceeding great reward He never made selfish decisions for himself after this night.

He had lived his life the way he wanted to live it. But on this night, Jacob had to make a choice. He either faced possible death at the hands of his brother, or he had to find grace with the God of Abraham and Isaac. In order to find grace in God"s eyes, he had to become weak, so that God could become strong.

Genesis 32:28"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel" - Word Study on "Israel" - Gesenius the Hebrew name "Israel" ( יִׂשְׂרָאֵל) (H 3478) means, "contender, soldier of God." Strong says it means, "he will rule as God." BDB says it means, "God prevails." PTW says it means "one who prevails with God." Strong says it is derived from two Hebrew words: ( שָׂרָה) (H 8280), which means "to prevail," and ( אֵל) (H 410), meaning, "God." —

There appear to be two general interpretations as to the meaning of the name "Israel". It has a literal meaning of "struggling with God," and the figurative interpretation of "a prince with God."

As with all of the names that God gives his servants in the Old Testament, their meaning can be found within the context of the passage. Genesis 32:28, as well as Hosea 12:3-4, reveals that his name comes from the fact that Jacob had power over the angel and prevailed. Thus, his name seems to care the more literally meaning.

Hosea 12:3-4, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;"

We know that Jacob wrestled with an angel and thus prevailed over the angel by his strength. But what does Genesis 32:28 mean when it tells us that Jacob has prevailed over men? Perhaps we find the meaning in Hosea 12:3-4 when it tells us that Jacob "took his brother by the heel in the womb" that Jacob prevailed over his brother Esau.

Why would God give Jacob this name? Because Jacob must now learn to totally trust in God. His thigh was limp and his physical strength was gone. The only strength that he will ever know the rest of his life will be the strength that he finds in trusting God. Jacob was about to meet his brother and for the first time in his life, he was facing a situation that he could not handle in his own strength and cunning. He has been able to get himself out of every other situation in his life, but this time, it was different. He was going to have to trust God or die, and Jacob knew this. His name was now Israel, a mighty one in God. Jacob would have to now find his strength in God, because he had no strength to fight in the flesh.

Thus, he name showed him that he could look to God and prevail as a mighty one both with God and with man. After this night, the Scriptures never record a foolish decision that Jacob made. He began to learn how to totally rely upon the Lord as his father Abraham had learned.

Genesis 32:28 — "for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed" - Word Study on "as a prince hast thou power" - The entire phrase in the KJV "as a prince hast thou power" is found as one word in the Hebrew text. Strong says this Hebrew primitive root word "power" "sarah" ( שָׂרָה) (H 8280) means, "to prevail." BDB says it means, "contend, have power, contend with, persist, exert oneself, persevere." This word is used only 2times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "power." For this reason, some leading modern translations read similar to the phrase, "for thou hast striven (struggled) with God and men, and hast prevailed." (ASV, NIV, RSV) The other use of "sarah" is found in Hosea 12:3

Hosea 12:3-4, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;"

In addition, as the pronunciation of this name implies, this Hebrew word serves at the root word for the name "Sarah" ( שָׂרָה) (H 8283).

Genesis 32:29Comments- Compare a similar question made by Manoah, Samson"s father, and a similar statement made by the angel in Judges 13:18.

Judges 13:17-18, "And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?"

Genesis 32:30Word Study on "Peniel" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Peniel" ( פְּנוּאֵל) (H 6439) means "face of God." Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) says that this name means, "vision of God."

"The divine Scripture also calls him God, when he appeared again to Jacob in the form of a Prayer of Manasseh , and said to Jacob, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name, because thou hast prevailed with God."Wherefore also Jacob called the name of that place "Vision of God," saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 129)

Genesis 32:31 — "he halted upon his thigh" - Comments- This halting was symbolic of the character transformation that Jacob has undergone with the name change. This transformation came with a price, the weakening of the flesh, and a greater dependence on the Lord.

Genesis 33:3 — "and bowed himself to the ground seven times" - Comments- The custom of bowing seven times was a typical Eastern response representing complete submission. Note that Naaman the Syrian dipped seven times in the Jordan River when he submitted to the words of Elisha ( 2 Kings 5:14).

2 Kings 5:14, "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."

Genesis 33:11Comments- Like Abraham insisted on buying land for burial ( Genesis 23:1-20), and David insisted on buying the threshing floor ( 1 Chronicles 21:18-27), Jacob insists on giving a gift.

Genesis 33:17Word Study on "Succoth" - The Hebrew name "Succoth" ( סֻכּוֹת) (H 5523) literally means "booths."

Genesis 33:17Comments- Instead of following his brother Esau south to Seir (Edom), as he had promised, Jacob went and built a house at Succoth, then journeyed to Shechem.

Genesis 33:20Word Study on "Elelohe-Israel" - The name "El-elohe-Israel" (H 415) literally reads, "God, the God of Israel". Strong says it means, "the mighty God of Israel."


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 32:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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