Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Angels. Guardians of Chanaan and Mesopotamia. (Jarchi.) --- The latter escorted him as far as the torrent Jaboc. That angels guard different provinces, is well attested, Daniel xii. 1, and Acts xvi. 9. (Calmet) --- Michael protected Chanaan and the people of God. (Diodorus of Tarsus.) (Menochius)
Mahanaim, "two camps." A town was afterwards built here.
Edom; comprising the countries east, west, and south of the Dead sea. (Calmet) --- Providentially, Esau had now left his father's house open to his brother; who, on this occasion, addresses him with the utmost civility, and speaks of the riches which he had obtained; in order that Esau might neither be ashamed of him, nor suspect that he would impoverish his father. (Menochius)
Men. Jonathan has Polemarchoi; officers or warriors, either to punish Jacob, (Wisdom x. 12.) as the latter feared, ver. 11; or to do him honour, as Esau protested, chap. xxxiii. 15. (Calmet)
God of...Isaac. It is not true, therefore, that God never has the title of God of any man, while living, as some assert, chap. xxxi. 42. Jacob addresses him by those very titles which he had assumed at Bethel, chap. xxviii. 13. (Haydock)
Not worthy. Chaldean, "my merits are beneath all thy kindnesses." St. Augustine reads, with St. Cyril, idoneus es, &c., "thou art sufficient for me."
The children; sparing neither sex nor age, but destroying all. (Calmet) --- Jacob insists on the promises of God; yet fears lest he should, by some offence, have deserved to forfeit his protection; particularly, as he had been living 20 years among idolaters. He acts with all prudence. (Worthington)
Camels. The milk of these animals is most exquisite, being mixed with three parts water. Pliny, Natural History xi. 41, who says, "They give milk till they be with young again." The Arabs feed chiefly on their milk and flesh. (St. Jerome, contra Jor. ii.) The value of all these presents, may give us some idea of the prodigious wealth which God had heaped upon Jacob in the space of six years! (Haydock)
He said, &c. These words were not to be related to Esau; they are the words of the sacred historian. There were probably five droves of goats, sheep, camels, kine and asses; by the successive presenting of which, Esau might be appeased.
Sons, with Dina his daughter, and all his household.
All things. Grotius thinks this has been lost in the Hebrew copies; as it occurs in the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Syriac.
A man, &c. This was an angel in human shape, as we learn from Osee xii. 4. He is called God, ver. 28 and 30, because he represented the person of the Son of God. This wrestling, in which Jacob, assisted by God, was a match for an angel, was so ordered, (ver. 28.) that he might learn by this experiment of the divine assistance, that neither Esau, nor any other man, should have power to hurt him. It was also spiritual, as appeareth by his earnest prayer, urging, and at last obtaining the angel's blessing. (Challoner) --- The father will not refuse a good gift to those who ask him with fervour and humility. Jacob had before set us an excellent pattern how to pray, placing his confidence in God, and distrusting himself, ver. 9, &c. (Haydock) --- It is not certain, whether Jacob remained alone on the northern or on the southern banks of Jaboc. (Calmet)
Sinew, near the coxendix, or huckel-bone. (Du Hamel) This was to convince Jacob, how easily he could have gained the victory over him; and to make him remember, that it was not simply a vision, but a real wrestling. (Tirinus)
Israel. This name was more honourable, and that by which his posterity were afterwards known; being called Israelites, and not Jacobites. God ratifies the title, chap. xxxv. 10. It means a prince of God, (St. Jerome, q. Heb.; Calmet) or one standing upright, and contending victoriously with God, rectus Dei, yisrael. (Haydock) --- Many have expounded it, a man seeing God; aiss-rae-al. (Philo, &c.)
Why, &c. He represses Jacob's curiosity, (Haydock) perhaps because God did not as yet choose to reveal his name, Exodus vi. 3. Some Greek and Latin copies add, which is wonderful, taken from Judges xiii. 6, 18. (Calmet)
Phanuel. This word signifies the face of God, or the sight, or seeing of God. (Challoner) --- Hebrew reads here Peni-el, though it has Phanuel in the next verse. Jacob thus returns thanks to God for the preservation of his life, after having seen God or his angel in a corporeal form, and not in a dream only. (Calmet)
Halted, or was lame. Alulensis thinks the angel healed him very soon. (Menochius)
The sinew in beasts of any kind, corresponding with that part of Jacob's thigh. (Haydock) --- Some refrain from the whole quarter, others extract the sinew. This they do, without any command, in memory of this transaction. (Calmet)