Genesis 32:25
And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
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(25) The hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint.—The hollow is in the Hebrew the pan or socket into which the end of the thigh bone is inserted, and the verb more probably signifies that it was sprained from the over-tension of the muscles in the wrestling. But, in spite of his sprained tendons, Jacob still resisted, and could not be thrown down, and the angel, unable to gain any further advantage, at last acknowledges Jacob’s superiority, and at sunrise craves permission to depart.

Genesis 32:25. He prevailed not against him — The angel suffered himself to be conquered, to encourage Jacob’s faith and hope against the approaching danger: nay, he even imparted strength to him to maintain the conflict. For it was not in his own strength that Jacob wrestled, nor by his own strength that he prevailed, but by strength derived from Heaven, by which alone he had power over the angel, Hosea 12:3. Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him — This was to humble him, and make him sensible of his own weakness, that he might ascribe his victory, not to his own power, but to the grace of God, and might be encouraged to depend on that grace for the deliverance he was so much concerned to obtain. It is probable Jacob felt little or no pain from this hurt, for he did not so much as halt till the struggle was over, Genesis 32:31. If so, it evidenced itself to be a divine touch indeed, wounding and healing at the same time.

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.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.

24, 25. There wrestled a man with him—This mysterious person is called an angel (Ho 12:4) and God (Ge 32:28, 30; Ho 12:5); and the opinion that is most supported is that he was "the angel of the covenant," who, in a visible form, appeared to animate the mind and sympathize with the distress of his pious servant. It has been a subject of much discussion whether the incident described was an actual conflict or a visionary scene. Many think that as the narrative makes no mention in express terms either of sleep, or dream, or vision, it was a real transaction; while others, considering the bodily exhaustion of Jacob, his great mental anxiety, the kind of aid he supplicated, as well as the analogy of former manifestations with which he was favored—such as the ladder—have concluded that it was a vision [Calvin, Hessenberg, Hengstenberg]. The moral design of it was to revive the sinking spirit of the patriarch and to arm him with confidence in God, while anticipating the dreaded scenes of the morrow. To us it is highly instructive; showing that, to encourage us valiantly to meet the trials to which we are subjected, God allows us to ascribe to the efficacy of our faith and prayers, the victories which His grace alone enables us to make. Not through impotency, but in design, the angel suffered himself to be conquered, to encourage Jacob’s faith and hope against the approaching danger.

The hollow of his thigh, the joint of his hip-bone, or rather the hollow in which that joint was.

The hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, which was done that Jacob might see that it was not his own strength, but only God’s grace, which got him this victory, and could give him the deliverance which he hoped for.

And when he saw that he prevailed not against him,.... That he, the man, or the Son of God in the form of man, prevailed not against Jacob, by casting him to the ground, or causing him to desist and leave off wrestling with him; not because he could not, but because he would not, being willing to encourage the faith of Jacob against future trials and exercises, and especially under his present one: besides, such were the promises that this divine Person knew were made to Jacob, and so strong was Jacob's faith at this time in pleading those promises in prayer to God, that he could not do otherwise, consistent with the purposes and promises of God, than suffer himself to be prevailed over by him:

he touched the hollow of his thigh; the hollow part of the thigh or the groin, or the hollow place in which the thigh bone moves, and is said to have the form of the hollow of a man's hand recurved:

and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him; that is, the huckle bone, or the thigh bone, was moved out of the hollow place in which it was: this was done to let Jacob know that the person he wrestled with was superior to him, and could easily have overcome him, and obliged him to cease wrestling with him if he would; and that the victory he got over him was not by his own strength, but by divine assistance, and by the sufferance of the himself he wrestled with; so that he had nothing to boast of: and this shows the truth and reality of this conflict; that it was not visionary, but a real fact, as well as it teaches the weakness and infirmities of the saints, that attend them in their spiritual conflicts. The word used in this and the preceding verse comes from a root which signifies dust; it being usual with wrestlers to raise up the dust with their feet when they strive together, as Kimchi (g) remarks, as well as it was common with the ancients to wrestle in dust, and sand (h); and hence the phrase "descendere in arenam", combatants were called "arenarii".

(g) Sepher Shorash rad (h) "Fulva luctantur arena." --Virgil.

And when he saw that he {i} prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

(i) For God assails his with the one hand, and upholds them with the other.

25. he saw] In the narrative, as we have it, these words refer to the mysterious combatant with whom Jacob wrestled. But the omission of the subject both in this and the subsequent clause, in the Hebrew as well as in the English, leaves the meaning ambiguous. That it was Jacob, and not “the man,” who by some trick of wrestling got the mastery, may have been the version of the story referred to in Hosea 12:4, “he had power over the angel, and prevailed.”

Verse 25. - And when he (the unknown wrestler) saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched - not struck (Knobel) - the hollow of his thigh (literally, the socket of the hip); and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him - literally, in his wrestling with him. Genesis 32:25When Jacob was left alone on the northern side of the Jabbok, after sending all the rest across, "there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." נאבק, an old word, which only occurs here (Genesis 32:25, Genesis 32:26), signifying to wrestle, is either derived from אבק to wind, or related to חבק to contract one's self, to plant limb and limb firmly together. From this wrestling the river evidently received its name of Jabbok (יבּק equals יאבּק).
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