Genesis 32:23
And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
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(23) The brook.—Really, the ravine or valley; Arab., wady. Jacob, whose administrative powers were of a very high character, sees his wives, children, and cattle not only through the ford, but across the valley on to the high ground beyond. Staying himself to the very last, he is left alone on the south side of the torrent, but still in the ravine, across which the rest had taken their way. The definite proof that Jacob remained on the south side lies in the fact that Peniel belonged to the tribe of Gad; but, besides this, there could be no reason why he should recross the rapid river when once he had gone through it, and probably the idea has risen from taking the word brook in Genesis 32:23 in too narrow a sense. Really it is the word translated valley in Genesis 26:17, but is used only of such valleys or ravines as have been formed by the action of a mountain torrent. When Jacob had seen his wives and herds safe on the top of the southern ridge, the deep valley would be the very place for this solitary struggle. This ravine, we are told, has a width of from four to six miles.

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 wrestles with a man. "Passed over the ford of Jabbok." The Jabbok rose near Rabbath Ammon, and flowed into the Jordan, separating North Gilead from South, or the kingdom of Og from that of Sihon. "Jacob was left alone," on the north side, after all had passed over. "A man wrestled with him." When God has a new thing of a spiritual nature to bring into the experience of man, he begins with the senses. He takes man on the ground on which he finds him, and leads him through the senses to the higher things of reason, conscience, and communion with God.

Jacob seems to have gone through the principles or foundations of faith in God and repentance toward him, which gave a character to the history of his grandfather and father, and to have entered upon the stage of spontaneous action. He had that inward feeling of spiritual power which prompted the apostle to say, "I can do all things." Hence, we find him dealing with Esau for the birthright, plotting with his mother for the blessing, erecting a pillar and vowing a vow at Bethel, overcoming Laban with his own weapons, and even now taking the most prudent measures for securing a welcome from Esau on his return. He relied indeed on God, as was demonstrated in many of his words and deeds; but the prominent feature of his character was a strong and firm reliance on himself. But this practical self-reliance, though naturally springing up in the new man and highly commendable in itself, was not yet in Jacob duly subordinated to that absolute reliance which ought to be placed in the Author of our being and our salvation. Hence, he had been betrayed into intrusive, dubious, and even sinister courses, which in the retributive providence of God had brought, and were yet to bring him, into many troubles and perplexities. The hazard of his present situation arose chiefly from his former unjustifiable practices toward his brother. He is now to learn the lesson of unreserved reliance on God.

"A man" appeared to him in his loneliness; one having the bodily form and substance of a man. Wrestled with him - encountered him in the very point in which he was strong. He had been a taker by the heel from his very birth, and his subsequent life had been a constant and successful struggle with adversaries. And when he, the stranger, saw that he prevailed not over him. Jacob, true to his character, struggles while life remains, with this new combatant. touched the socket of his thigh, so that it was wrenched out of joint. The thigh is the pillar of a man's strength, and its joint with the hip the seat of physical force for the wrestler. Let the thigh bone be thrown out of joint, and the man is utterly disabled. Jacob now finds that this mysterious wrestler has wrested from him, by one touch, all his might, and he can no longer stand alone. Without any support whatever from himself, he hangs upon the conqueror, and in that condition learns by experience the practice of sole reliance on one mightier than himself. This is the turning-point in this strange drama. Henceforth Jacob now feels himself strong, not in himself, but in the Lord, and in the power of his might. What follows is merely the explication and the consequence of this bodily conflict.

And he, the Mighty Stranger, said, Let me go, for the dawn ariseth. The time for other avocations is come: let me go. He does not shake off the clinging grasp of the now disabled Jacob, but only calls upon him to relax his grasp. "And he, Jacob, said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me". Despairing now of his own strength, he is Jacob still: he declares his determination to cling on until his conqueror bless him. He now knows he is in the hand of a higher power, who can disable and again enable, who can curse and also bless. He knows himself also to be now utterly helpless without the healing, quickening, protecting power of his victor, and, though he die in the effort, he will not let him go without receiving this blessing. Jacob's sense of his total debility and utter defeat is now the secret of his power with his friendly vanquisher. He can overthrow all the prowess of the self-reliant, but he cannot resist the earnest entreaty of the helpless.

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.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And he took them, and sent them over the brook,.... His wives and children, under the care of some of his servants:

and sent over that he had: all that belonged to him, his servants and his cattle or goods.

And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
23. the stream] The Jabbok is called a “stream” (naḥal) in Deuteronomy 3:16; Joshua 12:2. On the word rendered “stream,” see note on Genesis 26:17.

Genesis 32:23The Wrestling with God. - The same night, he conveyed his family with all his possessions across the ford of the Jabbok. Jabbok is the present Wady es Zerka (i.e., the blue), which flows from the east towards the Jordan, and with its deep rocky valley formed at that time the boundary between the kingdoms of Sihon at Heshbon and Og of Bashan. It now separates the countries of Moerad or Ajlun and Belka. The ford by which Jacob crossed was hardly the one which he took on his outward journey, upon the Syrian caravan-road by Kalaat-Zerka, but one much farther to the west, between Jebel Ajlun and Jebel Jelaad, through which Buckingham, Burckhardt, and Seetzen passed; and where there are still traces of walls and buildings to be seen, and other marks of cultivation.
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