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Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; 2and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.

Jacob Sends Presents to Appease Esau

3 Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’ ”

6 The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”

9 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O L ord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’ ”

13 So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.” 17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’ ” 19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

1. And Jacob went on his way. After Jacob has escaped from the hands of his father-in-law, that is, from present death, he meets with his brother, whose cruelty was as much, or still more, to be dreaded; for by the threats of this brother he had been driven from his country; and now no better prospect lies before him. He therefore proceeds with trepidation, as one who goes to the slaughter. Seeing, however, it was scarcely possible but that he should sink oppressed by grief, the Lord affords him timely succor; and prepares him for this conflict, as well as for others, in such a manner that he should stand forth a brave and invincible champion in them all. Therefore, that he may know himself to be defended by the guardianship of God, angels go forth to meet him, arranged in ranks on both sides. Hebrew interpreters think that the camp of the enemy had been placed on one side; and that the angels, or rather God, stood on the other. But it is much more probable, that angels were distributed in two camps on different sides of Jacob, that he might perceive himself to be everywhere surrounded and fortified by celestial troops; as in Psalm 34:7, it is declared that angels, to preserve the worshippers of God, pitch their tents around them. Yet I am not dissatisfied with the opinion of those who take the dual number simply for the plural; understanding that Jacob was entirely surrounded with an army of angels. Now the use of this vision was twofold; for, first, since the holy man was very anxious about the future, the Lord designed early to remove this cause of terror from him; or, at least, to afford him some alleviation, lest he should sink under temptation. Secondly, God designed, when Jacob should have been delivered from his brother, so to fix the memory of the past benefit in his mind, that it should never be lost. We know how prone men are to forget the benefits of God. Even while God is stretching out his hand to help them, scarcely one out of a hundred raises his eyes towards heaven. Therefore it was necessary that the visible protection of God should be placed before the eyes of the holy man; so that, as in a splendid theater, he might perceive that he had been lately delivered, not by chance, out of the hand of Laban; but that he had the angels of God fighting for him; and might certainly hope, that their help would be ready for him against the attempts of his brother; and finally, that, when the danger was surmounted, he might remember the protection he had received from them. This doctrine is of use to us all, that we may learn to mark the invisible presence of God in his manifested favors. Chiefly, however, it was necessary that the holy man should be furnished with new weapons to endure the approaching contest. He did not know whether his brother Esau had been changed for the better or the worse. But he would rather incline to the suspicion that the sanguinary man would devise nothing but what was hostile. Therefore the angels appear for the purpose of confirming his faith in future, not less than for that of calling past favors to his remembrance. The number of these angels also encourages him not a little: for although a single angel would suffice as a guardian for us, yet the Lord acts more liberally towards us. Therefore they who think that each of us is defended by one angel only, wickedly depreciate the kindness of God. And there is no doubt that the devil, by this crafty device, has endeavored, in some measure, to diminish our faith. The gratitude of the holy man is noted by Moses, in the fact that he assigns to the place a name, (Galeed,) as a token of perpetual remembrance.

3. And Jacob sent messengers. It now happened, by the providence of God, that Esau, having left his father, had gone to Mount Seir of his own accord; and had thus departed from the land of promise, by which means the possession of it would remain void for the posterity of Jacob, without slaughter among brethren. For it was not to be believed that he had changed his habitation, either because he was compelled by his father’s command, or because he was willing to be accounted inferior to his brother. I rather conjecture that he had become greatly enriched, and that this induced him to leave his father’s house. For we know that profane persons and men of this world so vehemently pant for present advantages, that when anything offers itself in accordance with their desire, they are hurried towards it with a brutish impetuosity. Esau was imperious and ferocious; he was incensed against his mother; had shaken off all reverence for his father, and knew that he was himself also obnoxious to them both: his wives were engaged in incessant contentions; it seemed to him hard and troublesome, to be in the condition of a child in the family, when he was now advancing to old age; for proud men do not regard themselves as free, so long as any one has the preeminence over them. Therefore, in order to pass his life free from the authority of others, he chose to live in a state of separation from his father; and, allured by this attraction, he disregarded the promised inheritance, and left the place for his brother. I have said that this was done by the divine will: for God himself declares by Malachi, that it was by a species of banishment that Esau was led to Mount Seir. (Malachi 1:3)101101     “I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” — English Translation. For although he departed voluntarily, yet, by the secret counsel of God was he deprived of that land which he had earnestly desired. But, attracted by the present lust of dominion, he was blinded in his choice; since the land of Seir was mountainous and rugged, destitute of fertility and pleasantness. Moreover, he would appear to himself a great man, in giving his own name to the country. Nevertheless, it is probable that Moses called that country the land of Edom by the figure prolepsis, because it afterwards began to be so called. The question now occurs, Whence did Jacob know that his brother dwelt in that region? Though I assert nothing as certain; yet the conjecture is probable, that he had been informed of it by his mother; for, in the great number of her servants, a faithful messenger would not be wanting. And it is easily gathered from the words of Moses, that Jacob, before he had entered the land, knew the fact respecting the new residence of his brother. And we know that many things of this kind were omitted by Moses, which may easily suggest themselves to the mind of the reader.

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