And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let me go . . . —Heb., send me away, for the gleam of morning has gone up. The asking of permission to depart was the acknowledgment of defeat. The struggle must end at daybreak, because Jacob must now go to do his duty; and the wrestling had been for the purpose of giving him courage, and enabling him to meet danger and difficulty in the power of faith. A curious Jewish idea is that the angel was that one whose duty it was to defend and protect Esau. By the aid of his own protecting angel Jacob, they say, had overpowered him, and had won the birthright and the precedence as “Israel, a prince with God and man.”
Except thou bless me.—The vanquished must yield the spoil to the victor; and Jacob, who had gradually become aware that the being who was wrestling with him was something more than man, asks of him, as his ransom, a blessing.Genesis 32:26. Let me go — Thus the angel, by an admirable condescension, speaks to Jacob as God did to Moses, Exodus 32:10, Let me alone, and that to show the prevalency of his prayer with God, and also to encourage him to persist in the conflict. For the day breaketh — Therefore he would not any longer detain Jacob, who had business to do, a family to look after, a journey to take. I will not let thee go except thou bless me — He resolves he will have a blessing, and rather shall all his bones be put out of joint than he will suffer the angel to leave him without a blessing. Those who would be blessed by Christ, and have his salvation, must be in good earnest and importunate for it. Reader, art thou so? Dost thou pray and not faint?
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.And he said, Let me go: he saith this, partly to show the prevailing power of his prayer with God, and partly to quicken and encourage Jacob to persist in his conflict. Compare Exodus 32:10 Deu 9:14.
The day breaketh, and I am not willing that there should be any spectators or witnesses of these things.
Except thou bless me with the blessings which thou hast promised to Abraham and to me, among which one is protection in this hour of my danger. For Jacob now began to think that it was no man, nor ordinary angel, that was with him, but God himself, as he saith, Genesis 32:30.
and he said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me; for by his touching his thigh, and the effect of that, he perceived he was more than a man, even a divine Person, and therefore insisted upon being blessed by him: thus faith in prayer lays hold on God, and will not let him go without leaving the blessing it is pleading for; which shows the great strength of faith, and the efficacy of the prayer of faith with God; see Exodus 32:10.And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)26. the day breaketh] A survival of the old belief that unearthly visitants of the night must be gone before daybreak. In Plautus, Amphitr. 532f., Jupiter says, “Cur me tenes? Tempus est: exire ex urbe, priusquam lucescat, volo.” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act i. Scene i.:
“Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew.
Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing.”
See note on Genesis 19:15; Genesis 19:23.
except thou bless me] Jacob had suddenly realized, through the touch of physical suffering, that he was in the grasp of more than mortal power. He neither shrinks, nor desists, but maintains his hold and asks for a blessing.Verse 26. - And he (the man) said, Let me go (literally, send me away; meaning that he yielded the victory to Jacob, adding as a reason for his desire to depart), for the day breaketh - literally, for the morning or the dawn ascendeth; and therefore it is time for thee to proceed to other duties (Wilet, Clarke, Murphy), e.g. to meet Esau and appease his anger ('Speaker's Commentary'). Perhaps also the angel was unwilling that the vision which was meant for Jacob only should be seen by others (Pererius), or even that his own glory should be beheld by Jacob (Ainsworth). Calvin thinks the language was so shaped as to lead Jacob to infer nocturna visions se divinitus fuisse edoctum. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. The words show that Jacob now clearly recognized his mysterious Antagonist to be Divine, and sought to obtain from him the blessing which he had previously stolen from his aged father by craft. 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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