Genesis 32:1 On their way, Jacob sees angels (for their protection). He decides to camp and calls the place Mahanaim (Two camps – One for Jacob and one for the angels)
Genesis 32:2-5 Jacob knew that it was time to face the music. He didn’t know whether his father Isaac was still alive. Notice that he says to refer himself as Esau’s servant. This is not true of course, but he was hoping to soften Esau up a bit.
Genesis 32:6-8 Jacob’s messengers return with the news that Esau had received his message and was on his way with 400 hundred men. Jacob interprets this as Esau is coming for revenge. Jacob divides his camp into 2 camps hoping that if they attack one camp, the other could escape.
Genesis 32:9-12 Jacob expressed faith in God, calling Him to keep His promises to him even though he himself was not worthy. He was afraid Esau was coming to kill them and asked God’s protection that was promised 20 years earlier in Bethel.
Notes: This is Jacob’s first recorded prayer since Bethel. That should also be our prayer to the Lord.
Genesis 32:13-21 Hoping to appease his brother Esau, Jacob gathered from his livestock gifts for his brother. He instructed his servants to divide them by droves in front. When Esau came near, he would come upon the droves of gifts as he came closer and closer to Jacob’s camp. Jacob hoped that by the time Esau reached him, the gifts would have calmed his temper and his intent to destroy him would be reversed. He sent his servants off to execute the plan, while he remained in camp and waited.
Notes: This plan does show a lack of faith. What he should have done is pray that the LORD would change Esau’s heart and simply trust God.
Genesis 32:22-23 That evening, Jacob took his wives, concubines, children, and all that he possessed and crossed over the river Jabbok and camped them there. He returned back over the river to remain alone.
Genesis 32:24-25 While alone, the LORD Himself came and wrestled with Jacob until day break. The LORD, seeing that Jacob was not going to give up, touched his hip and set his joint out of place (This caused Jacob to limp for the rest of his life). Jacob now must have realized that by the strength of his opponent that he was wrestling with the LORD Himself.
Genesis 32:26-28 The LORD told Jacob to let him go. Jacob refused to let go, even with his hip out of place (painful!) until he received a blessing. The LORD asked Jacob to state his name so that the LORD could tell him that no longer would his name be Jacob, but Israel, which means “struggled and strived with God and man and has prevailed”
Notes: Strive is accurate for Jacob’s life so far, for Jacob strove with his father, Esau, Laban, his wives, and now with God. Jacob’s limp would be a reminder of this encounter with God and to memorialize the event.
Genesis 32:29-32 Jacob asked for the name of the one he wrestled with. The LORD responded in a way to say, don’t you know? Then the LORD blessed Jacob. Jacob named the place Penuel, acknowledging that he has seen God face to face (Not physically, for one would die, but meaning a very personal encounter) and lived.
Notes: Jacob is transformed by this encounter with God. Jacob is now finally the man God needs him to be. The struggling with man is over. Jacob now realizes the importance of being blessed by God. At this point, Jacob comes to full faith that the God of his father Isaac is now his God also.