|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
32:24-32 A great while before day, Jacob being alone, more fully spread his fears before God in prayer. While thus employed, One in the likeness of a man wrestled with him. When the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer. Jacob kept his ground; though the struggle continued long, this did not shake his faith, nor silence his prayer. He will have a blessing, and had rather have all his bone put out of joint than go away without one. Those who would have the blessing of Christ, must resolve to take no denial. The fervent prayer is the effectual prayer. The Angel puts a lasting mark of honour upon him, by changing his name. Jacob signifies a supplanter. From henceforth he shall be celebrated, not for craft and artful management, but for true valour. Thou shalt be called Israel, a prince with God, a name greater than those of the great men of the earth. He is a prince indeed that is a prince with God; those are truly honourable that are mighty in prayer. Having power with God, he shall have power with men too; he shall prevail, and gain Esau's favour. Jacob gives a new name to the place. He calls it Peniel, the face of God, because there he had seen the appearance of God, and obtained the favour of God. It becomes those whom God honours, to admire his grace towards them. The Angel who wrestled with Jacob was the second Person in the sacred Trinity, who was afterwards God manifest in the flesh, and who, dwelling in human nature, is called Immanuel, Ho 12:4,5. Jacob halted on his thigh. It might serve to keep him from being lifted up with the abundance of the revelations. The sun rose on Jacob: it is sun-rise with that soul, which has had communion with God.
Verse 32. - Therefore the children of Israel cat not of the sinew which shrank, - the gid hannasheh, rendered by the LXX. τὸ νεῦρον ὅ ἐνάρκησεν, the nerve which became numb, and by the Vulgate nervus qui emarcuit, the nerve which withered, is the long tendon or sinew nervus ischiaticus (the tends Achillis of the Greeks) reaching from the spinal marrow to the ankle. The derivation of hannasheh is unknown (Gesenius), though the LXX. appear to have connected it with nashah, to dislocate, become feeble; Ainsworth with nashah, to forget (i.e. the sinew that forgot its place), and Furst with nashah, to be prolonged (vide 'Michaelis Suppl.', p. 303) - which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: - i.e. the day of Moses; though the custom continues to the present time among the Hebrews of cutting out this sinew from the beasts they kill and eat (vide Ainsworth in loco); but, according to Michaelis (Suppl., p. 305), eo nemo omnino mortalium, si vel nullo cogna-tionis gradu Jacobum attingat, nemo Graecus, nemo barbarus vesci velit - because he (i.e. the angel) touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank,.... Which was contracted by the touch of the angel, and by which it was weakened and benumbed; or the sinew of the part that was out of joint, the sinew or tendon that keeps the thigh bone in the socket, together with the flesh that covered it, or the muscle in which it is; or that sinew, others, that contracts itself and gives motion to the thigh bone to work itself: of this the Israelites eat not:
which is upon the hollow of the thigh; or the cap of it:
unto this day; when Moses wrote this history:
because he the angel touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh, in the sinew that shrank; and very superstitiously do they abstain from it unto this day: they have a whole chapter in one of their treatises in the Misnah (l), giving rules concerning it; where it is forbidden to eat of it, whether in the land of Israel or out of it; whether in common food or sacrifices, even in burnt offerings it was to be taken out; and whether in cattle of the house or of the field; and both in the right and left thigh, but not in fowls, because they have no hollow, and butchers are not to be trusted; and whoever eats of it to the quantity of an olive is to be beaten with forty stripes; and because the Jews are more ignorant of this nerve, as Mercer observes, therefore they abstain from all nerves in the posteriors of animals. Leo of Modena says (m), of what beast soever they eat, they are very careful to take away all the fat and the sinew which shrunk: and hence it is, that in many places in Italy, and especially in Germany, they eat not at all of the hinder quarters of ox, lamb, or goat; because there is in those parts of the beast both very much fat, and also the forbidden sinew; and it asketh so much care to cleanse the parts of these, that there are few that are able to do it, or dare to undertake it.
(l) Cholin. c. 7. sect. 1. 3. (m) History of the Rites, Customs, &c. of the Jews, part 2. c. 7. sect. 3. p. 91. 92.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. the sinew which shrank—the nerve that fastens the thigh bone in its socket. The practice of the Jews in abstaining from eating this in the flesh of animals, is not founded on the law of Moses, but is merely a traditional usage. The sinew is carefully extracted; and where there are no persons skilled enough for that operation, they do not make use of the hind legs at all.
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