Genesis 32:22
And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
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(22) The ford Jabbok.—Heb., the ford of the Jabbok. This river, now called the Wady Zerba or Blue Torrent, formed afterwards the boundary between the tribes of Manasseh and Gad. It flows through a deep ravine, with so rapid a current as to make the crossing of it a matter of difficulty. Dr. Tristram (Land of Israel, p. 558) says that the water reached his horse’s girths when he rode through the ford.

32:9-23 Times of fear should be times of prayer: whatever causes fear, should drive us to our knees, to our God. Jacob had lately seen his guards of angels, but in this distress he applied to God, not to them; he knew they were his fellow-servants, Re 22:9. There cannot be a better pattern for true prayer than this. Here is a thankful acknowledgement of former undeserved favours; a humble confession of unworthiness; a plain statement of his fears and distress; a full reference of the whole affair to the Lord, and resting all his hopes on him. The best we can say to God in prayer, is what he has said to us. Thus he made the name of the Lord his strong tower, and could not but be safe. Jacob's fear did not make him sink into despair, nor did his prayer make him presume upon God's mercy, without the use of means. God answers prayers by teaching us to order our affairs aright. To pacify Esau, Jacob sent him a present. We must not despair of reconciling ourselves to those most angry against us.Jacob sends forward a present to Esau. "He lodged there that night." Mahanaim may have been about twenty-five miles from the Jabbok. At some point in the interval he awaited the return of his messengers. Abiding during the night in the camp, not far from the ford of the Jabbok, he selects and sends forward to Esau his valuable present of five hundred and fifty head of cattle. "That which was come into his hand," into his possession. The cattle are selected according to the proportions of male and female which were adopted from experience among the ancients (Varro, de re rust. II. 3). "Every drove by itself," with a space between, that Esau might have time to estimate the great value of the gift. The repetition of the announcement of the gift, and of Jacob himself being at hand, was calculated to appease Esau, and persuade him that Jacob was approaching him in all brotherly confidence and affection. "Appease him." Jacob designs this gift to be the means of propitiating his brother before he appears in his presence. "Lift up my face," accept me. "Lodged that night in the camp;" after sending this present over the Jabbok. This seems the same night referred to in Genesis 32:14.22. ford Jabbok—now the Zerka—a stream that rises among the mountains of Gilead, and running from east to west, enters the Jordan, about forty miles south of the Sea of Tiberias. At the ford it is ten yards wide. It is sometimes forded with difficulty; but in summer it is very shallow.

he rose up and took—Unable to sleep, Jacob waded the ford in the night time by himself; and having ascertained its safety, he returned to the north bank and sent over his family and attendants, remaining behind, to seek anew, in silent prayer, the divine blessing on the means he had set in motion.

His eleven sons, and Dinah, though she be not here mentioned; as the women are oft omitted in Scripture, was being comprehended under the men.

Passed over the ford Jabbok, which is here generally related, but the time and manner of it is particularly described in the following verses. Of this ford Jabbok, see Numbers 21:24 Deu 3:16.

And he rose up that night,.... In the middle of it, for it was long before break of day, as appears from Genesis 32:24,

and took his two wives, Rachel and Leah:

and his two womenservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, or, "his two concubines", as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; which distinguishes them from other womenservants or maidservants, of which, no doubt, he had many:

and his eleven sons; together with Dinah his daughter, though not mentioned, being the only female child, and a little one:

and passed over the ford Jabbok; over that river, at a place of it where it was fordable, or where there was a ford or passage: this was a river that took its rise from the mountains of Arabia, was the border of the Ammonites, washed the city Rabba, and ran between Philadelphia and Gerasa, and came into the river Jordan, at some little distance from the sea of Gennesaret or Galilee (d), about three or four miles from it.

(d) Hieron, de loc. Heb. fol. 92. f. Adrichom, Theatrum Terrae, S. p. 32.

And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
22. the ford of Jabbok] This river, the modern Zerka, is a tributary of the Jordan on its eastern bank. The narrative does not state on which bank of the Jabbok the angel appeared to Jacob. According to Genesis 32:22 Jacob had crossed the stream; according to Genesis 32:23 he had not. If, as seems probable, Genesis 32:24-32 follow Genesis 32:22 and belong to J (Genesis 32:23 belonging to the E narrative), Jacob met the angel on the S. bank of the Jabbok.

22–32. Jacob’s Wrestling with the Angel

This passage forms the climax of Jacob’s history. It records the occasion on which his name is changed to Israel, and describes his personal meeting with the Divine Being, whose blessing he obtains. The religious significance of the story turns upon (1) the sudden mysterious wrestling by night; (2) Jacob’s persistence in his demand for a blessing; (3) the blessing given, and symbolized by the new name, Israel; (4) the physical disability, a memorial of acceptance and spiritual victory, and a symbol of the frailty of earthly strength, in the crisis of life, when God meets man face to face. See the hymn “Come, O thou Traveller unknown” (Chas. Wesley).

Genesis 32:22Although hoping for aid and safety from the Lord alone, Jacob neglected no means of doing what might help to appease his brother. Having taken up his quarters for the night in the place where he received the tidings of Esau's approach, he selected from his flocks ("of that which came to his hand," i.e., which he had acquired) a very respectable present of 550 head of cattle, and sent them in different detachments to meet Esau, "as a present from his servant Jacob," who was coming behind. The selection was in harmony with the general possessions of nomads (cf. Job 1:3; Job 42:12), and the proportion of male to female animals was arranged according to the agricultural rule of Varro (de re rustica 2, 3). The division of the present, "drove and drove separately," i.e., into several separate droves which followed one another at certain intervals, was to serve the purpose of gradually mitigating the wrath of Esau. פּנים כּפּר, Genesis 32:21, to appease the countenance; פּנים נשׁא to raise any one's countenance, i.e., to receive him in a friendly manner. This present he sent forward; and he himself remained the same night (mentioned in Genesis 32:14) in the camp.
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