And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Verse 1. - And Jacob (after Laban's departure) went on his way (from Galeed and Mizpah, in a southerly direction towards the Jabbok), and the angels of God - literally, the messengers of Elohim, not chance travelers who informed him of Esau's being in the vicinity (Abarbanel), but angels (cf. Psalm 104:4) - met him. Not necessarily came in an opposite direction, fuerunt ei obviam (Vulgate), but simply fell in with him, lighted on him as in Genesis 28:11, συνήντησαν αὐτῶ (LXX.), forgathered with him (Scottish); but whether this was in a waking vision (Kurtz, Keil, Inglis) or a midnight dream (Hengstenberg) is uncertain, though-the two former visions enjoyed by Jacob were at night (cf. Genesis 28:12; Genesis 31:10). Cajetan, approved by Pererius, translating בּו "in him," makes it appear that the vision was purely subjective, non fuisse visionem corporalem, sed internam: the clause interpolated by the LXX., καὶ ἀναβλέψας εἰδε παρεμβολὴν θεοῦ παρμεβεβληκυῖαν, seems rather to point to an objective manifestation. The appearance of this invisible host may have been designed to celebrate Jacob's triumph over Laban, as after Christ's victory over Satan in the wilderness angels came and ministered unto him (Rupertus, Wordsworth), or to remind him that he owed his deliverance to Divine interposition (Calvin, Bush, Lange), but was more probably intended to assure him of protection in his approaching interview with Esau (Josephus, Chrysostom, Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), and perhaps also to give him welcome in returning home again to Canaan (Kurtz), if not in addition to suggest that his descendants would require to fight for their inheritance (Kalisch).
And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
Verse 2. - And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: - Mahaneh Elohim; i.e. the army (cf. Genesis 1:9; Exodus 14:24) or camp (1 Samuel 14:15; Psalm 27:3) of God, as opposed to the Mahanoth, or bands of Jacob himself (vide ver. 7, 10) - and he called the name of that place Manahan. - i.e. Two armies or camps, from the root חָנַה decline or bend, and hence to fix oneself down or encamp; meaning either a multitudinous host, reading the dual for a plural (Malvenda), or two bands of angels, one before, welcoming him to Canaan, and another behind, conducting him from Mesopotamia (Jarchi and others), or one on either side to typify the completeness of his protection, as in Psalm 34:8 (Calvin, Bush, Gcrlach, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or, as the best expositors interpret, his own company and the heavenly host (Abort Ezra, Clericus, Dathe, Keil, Lange, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy). Mahanaim, afterwards a distinguished city in the territory of Gad (Joshua 13:26), and frequently referred to in subsequent Scripture (2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 17:24; 27; 19:32; 1 Kings 4:14), as well as mentioned by Josephus ('Ant.,' 7.9, 8), as a strong and beautiful city, has been identified with Mahneh, a deserted ruin six or seven miles north-west by north of Ajlun (Mount Gilead), and about twenty miles from the Jabbok (vide 'Robinson,' vol. 3. App. 166; and cf. Tristram, 'The Land of Israel, p. 483); but the narrative appears to say that Mahanaim lay not north of Ga-leed, but between that place and Jabbok. Hence Porter suggests Gerasa, the most splendid ruin east of the Jordan, and bordering on the Jabbok, as occupying the site of Mahanaim (vide Kitto s 'Cyclopedia,' art. Mahanaim, and cf. 'Handbook for S. and P.' 2. 311, seq.).
And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
Verse 3. - And Jacob sent messengers (with the messengers of Jacob, the messengers of Elohim form a contrast which can scarcely have been accidental) before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, - vide on Genesis 14:6. Seir, nearly equivalent in force to Esau (Ewald), and meaning the rough or bristling mountain (Gesenius), was originally occupied by the Horites, but afterwards became the seat of Esau and his descendants (Deuteronomy 2:4; 2 Chronicles 20:10), though as yet Esau had not withdrawn from Canaan (Genesis 36:5-8) - the country (literally, plain or level tract = Padan (male Hoses 12:13) of Edom, as it was afterwards called.
And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
Verses 4, 5. - And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus; - the expression "my lord "may have been designed to intimate to Esau that he (Jacob) did not intend to assert that superiority or precedency which had been assigned him by Isaac s blessing (Genesis 27:29), at least so far as to claim a share in Isaac's wealth (Calvin, Bush, Gerlach), but was probably due chiefly to the extreme courtesy of the East (Gerlach), or to a desire to conciliate his brother (Keil), or to a feeling of personal contrition for his misbehavior towards Esau (Kalisch), and perhaps also to a secret apprehension of danger from Esau's approach (Alford, Inglis) - I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed - אֵחַרe fut. Kal. of אָחַרcurring only here, is a contraction for אֶךאחַר, like תֹּסֵק for תֹּאסֵק (Psalm 104:29; vide Gesenius, § 68, 2) - there until now: and I have (literally, there are to me, so that I stand in need of no further wealth from either thee or Isaac) oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: - cf. 12:16 (Abraham); 26:13, 14 (Isaac) - and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight (cf. 33:8, 15; 39:4; and vide 6:8; 18:3).
And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
Verse 6. - And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee (vide Genesis 33:1), and four hundred men with him. That Esau was attended by 400 armed followers was a proof that he had grown to be a powerful chieftain. If the hypothesis be admissible that he had already begun to live by the sword (Genesis 27:40), and was now invading the territory of the Horites, which he afterwards occupied (Delitzsch, Keil, Kurtz), it will serve to explain his appearance in the land of Seir, while as yet he had not finally retired from Canaan. That he came with such a formidable force to meet his brother has been set down to personal vanity, or a desire to show how powerful a prince he had become (Lyra, Menochius); to fraternal kindness, which prompted him to do honor to his brother (Peele, Calvin, Clarke), to a distinctly hostile intention (Willet, Ainsworth, Candlish), at least if circumstances should seem to call for vengeance (Keil), though it is probable that Esau's mind, on first hearing of his brother's nearness, was simply excited, and "in that wavering state which the slightest incident might soothe into good will, or rouse into vengeance" (Murphy).
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
Verses 7, 8. - Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: - literally, it was narrow to him; i.e. he was perplexed. Clearly the impression left on Jacob's mind by the report of his ambassadors was that he had nothing to expect but hostility - and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; - according to Gerlach, caravans are frequently divided thus in the present day, and for the same reason as Jacob assigns - And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape. It is easy to blame Jacob for want of faith in not trusting to God instead of resorting to his own devices (Candlish), but his behavior in the circumstances evinced great self-possession, non ita expavefactum fuisse Jacob quin res suns eomponeret (Calvin), considerable prudence (Lange), if not exalted chivalry (Candlish), a peaceful disposition which did not wish vim armata repellere (Rosenmüller), and a truly-religious spirit ('Speaker's Commentary'), since in his terror he betakes himself to prayer.
And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
Verses 9-12. - And Jacob said, - the combined beauty and power, humility and boldness, simplicity and sublimity, brevity and comprehensiveness of this prayer, of which Kalisch somewhat hypercritically complains that it ought to have been offered before resorting to the preceding precautions, has been universally recognized - O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord - Jacob's invocation is addressed not to Deity in general, but to the living personal Elohim who had taken his fathers Abraham and Isaac into covenant, i.e. to Jehovah who had enriched them with promises of which he was the heir, and who had specially appeared unto himself (cf. Genesis 28:13; Genesis 31:3, 13) - which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: - here was a clear indication that Jacob had in faith both obeyed the command and embraced the promise made known to him in Haran - I am not worthy of the least of (literally, I am less than) all the mercies, and (of) all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; - the profound humility which these words breathe is a sure indication that the character of Jacob had either undergone a great inward transformation, if that was not experienced twenty years before at Bethel, or had shaken off the moral and spiritual lethargy under which he too manifestly labored while in the service of Laban - for with my staff (i.e. possessing nothing but my staff) I passed over this Jordan (the Jabbok was situated near, indeed is a tributary of the Jordan); and now I am become two bands (or Macha-noth). Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau (thus passing from thanksgiving to direct petition, brief, explicit, and fervent): for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me (i.e. my whole clan, as Ishmael, Israel, Edom signify not individuals, but races), and the mother with the children. Literally, mother upon the children, a proverbial expression for unsparing cruelty (Rosenmüller, Keil), or complete extirpation (Kalisch), taken from the idea of destroying a bird while sitting upon its young (cf. Hosea 10:14). And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, - literally, doing good, I will do good to thee (vide Genesis 28:13). Jacob here pleads the Divine promises at Bethel (Genesis 28:13-15) and at Haran (Genesis 31:3), as an argument why Jehovah should extend to him protection against Esau - conduct at which Tuch is scandalized as "somewhat inaptly reminding God of his commands and promises, and calling upon him to keep his word; but just this is what God expects his people to do (Isaiah 43:26), and according to Scripture the Divine promise is always the petitioner's best warrant - and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, - this was the sense, without the ipsissima verb? of the Bethel promise, which likened Jacob s descendants to the dust upon the ground, as Abraham's seed had previously been compared to the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16), the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5), and the sand upon the sea-shore (Genesis 22:17) - which cannot be numbered for multitude.
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
Verse 13. - And he lodged there that same night; and took - not by random, but after careful selection; separavit (Vulgate) - of that which came to his hand - not of those things which were in his hand, ω΅ν ἔφερεν (LXX.), such as he had (Ainsworth), quae in mann erant (Rosenmüller), but of such things as had come into his hand, i.e. as he had acquired (Keil, Alford, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis) - a present (Minchah; used in Genesis 4:3, 4, 5, as a sacrifice to Jehovah, q.v.) for Esau his brother.
Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,
Verses 14, 15 - Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, thirty milch camels (specially valuable in the East on account of their milk, which was peculiarly sweet and wholesome) with their colts, forty kine, and ten hulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. The selection was in harmony witch the general possessions of nomads (cf. Job 1:3; Job 42:12), and the proportion of male to female animals was arranged according to what the experience of the best ancient authorities has shown to be necessary for the purposes of breeding (Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch).
Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.
And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.
Verse 16. - And he delivered them into the Band of his servants, every drove by themselves (literally, drove and drove separately); and said unto his servants, Passover (the river Jabbok) before me, and put a space (literally, a breathing-place) betwixt drove and drove - as is still the manner with Oriental shepherds (cf. 'Land and Book,' p. 331).
And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?
Verses 17-20. - And he commanded the foremost, saying (with admirable tact and prudence), When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee! then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he (Jacob) is behind us. And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him - literally, in your finding of him. And say ye (literally, and ye shall say) moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is Behind us" for he thought that this would convince Esau that he Went to 'meet him with complete confidence, and without apprehension" (Kalisch) - for he said (the historian adds the motive which explained Jacob's singular behavior), I will appease him (literally, I will cover his face, meaning I will prevent him from seeing my past offences, i.e. I will turn away his anger or pacify him, as in Proverbs 16:14) with the present that goeth before me, - literally, going before my face. So Abigail appeased David with a present (1 Samuel 25:18-32) - and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me - literally, lift up my face; a proverbial expression for granting a favorable reception (cf. Genesis 19:21; Job 42:8). "Jacob did not miscalculate the influence of his princely offerings, and I verily believe there is not an emeer or sheikh in all Gilead at this day who would not be appeased by such presents; and from my personal knowledge of Orientals, I should say that Jacob need not have been in such great terror, following in their rear. Far less will now 'make room,' as Solomon says, for any offender, however atrocious, and bring him before great men with acceptance" ('Land and Book,' p. 371).
Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.
And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.
And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.
So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
Verses 21-23. - So (literally, and) went the present over Before him: and himself lodged that night in the company. And he rose up that night, - i.e. some time before daybreak (vide ver. 24) and took his two wives, and him two women servants (Bilhah and Zilpah), and his eleven sons (Dinah being not mentioned in accordance with the common usage of the Bible), and passed over the ford - the word signifies a place of passing over. Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 558) speaks of the strong current reaching the horses girths at the ford crossed by himself and twenty horsemen - Jabbok. Jabbok, from bakak, to empty, to pour forth (Kalisch), or from abak, to struggle (Keil), may have been so named either from the natural appearance of the river, or, as is more probable, by prolepsis from the wrestling which took place upon its banks. It is now called the Wady Zerka, or Blue River, which flows into the Jordan, nearly opposite Shechem, and midway between the Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea. The stream is rapid, and often Completely hidden by the dense mass of oleander which fringes its banks ('Land of Israel,' p. 558). And he took them, and sent them (literally, caused them to pass) over the brook, and sent over that he had - himself remaining on the north side (Delitzsch, Keil, Kurtz, Murphy, Gerlach, Wordsworth, Alford), although, having once crossed the stream (ver. 22), it is not perfectly apparent that he recrossed, which has led some to argue that the wrestling occurred on the south of the river (Knobel, Rosenmüller, Lange, Kalisch).
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.
And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
Verse 24. - And Jacob was left alone (probably on the north bank of the Jabbok; but vide on ver. 23); and there wrestled - thus assaulting in his strong point one who had been a wrestler or heel-catcher from his youth (Murphy). The old word נֶךאבַק, niph. of אָבַק, unused, a dehorn, from חָבַק, dust, because in wrestling the dust is raised (Aben Ezra, Gesenius), or a weakened form of חָבַק, to wind round, to embrace (Furst), obviously contains an allusion to the Jabbok (vide on ver. 22) - a man - called an angel by Hosea (Genesis 12:4), and God by Jacob (ver. 30); but vide infra - with him until the breaking of the day - literally, the ascending of the morning.
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.
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.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
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.
And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Verse 27. - And he said unto him, What is thy name? (not as if requiring to be informed, but as directing attention to it in view of the change about to be made upon it) And he said, Jacob - i.e. Heel-catcher, or Supplanter (vide Genesis 25:26).
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Verse 28. - And he said, Thy name shall be called no more (i.e. exclusively, since both he and his descendants are in Scripture sometimes after this styled) Jacob, but Israel: - יִשְׂרַאֵל, from שָׂרָה, to be chief, to fight, though, after the example of Ishmael, God hears, it might be rendered "God governs" (Kalisch), yet seems in this place to signify either Prince of El (Calvin, Ainsworth, Dathe, Murphy, Wordsworth, and others), or wrestler with God (Furst, Keil, Kurtz, Lange, et alii, rather than warrior of God (Gesenius), if indeed both ideas may not be combined in the name as the princely wrestler with God ('Speaker's Commentary,' Bush), an interpretation adopted by the A.V. - for as a prince hast thou power with God - literally, for thou hast contended with Elohim [Keil, Alford, &c.), ὅτι ἐνισχυσας μετὰ θεου (LXX.), contra deumfortis fuisti (Vulgate), thou hast obtained the mastery with God (Kalisch), rather than, thou hast striven to be a prince with God (Murphy) - and with men, and but prevailed. So are the words rendered by the best authorities (Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, Wordsworth), though the translation καὶ μετὰ ἀνθρώπων δυνατὸς ἔσῃ (LXX.), quanto magis contra heroines prevalebis (Vulgate) is By some preferred (Calvin, Rosenmüller, &c.).
And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
Verse 29. - And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. A request indicating great boldness on the part of Jacob - the boldness of faith (Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19); and importing a desire on Jacob's part to be acquainted, not merely with the designation, but with the mysterious character of the Divine personage with whom he had been contending. And he (the mysterious stranger) said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? Cf. Judges 13:18, where the angel gives the same reply to Manoah, adding, "seeing it is secret;" literally, wonderful, i.e. incomprehensible to mortal man; though here the words of Jacob's antagonist may mean that his name, so far as it could be learnt by man, was already plain from the occurrence which had taken place (Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Bush). And he blessed him there. After this, every vestige of doubt disappeared from the soul of Jacob.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Verse 30. - And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (i.e. "the face of God." Its situation must have been close to the Jabbok. The reason given for its designation follows): for I have seen God (Elohim) face to face, and my life is preserved (cf. Genesis 16:13; Exodus 14:11; Exodus 33:20; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22; Isaiah 6:5).
And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
Verse 31. - And as he passed over Penuel - this some suppose to have been the original name of the place, which Jacob changed by the alteration of a vowel, but it is probably nothing more than an old form of the same word - the sun rose upon him, - "there was sunshine within and sunshine without. When Judas went forth on his dark design, we read, 'It was night,' John 13:30" (Inglis) - and he halted upon his thigh - thus carrying with him a memorial of his conflict, as Paul afterwards bore about with him a stake in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.
Verse 32. - Therefore the children of Israel cat not of the sinew which shrank, - the gid hannasheh, rendered by the LXX. τὸ νεῦρον ὅ ἐνάρκησεν, the nerve which became numb, and by the Vulgate nervus qui emarcuit, the nerve which withered, is the long tendon or sinew nervus ischiaticus (the tends Achillis of the Greeks) reaching from the spinal marrow to the ankle. The derivation of hannasheh is unknown (Gesenius), though the LXX. appear to have connected it with nashah, to dislocate, become feeble; Ainsworth with nashah, to forget (i.e. the sinew that forgot its place), and Furst with nashah, to be prolonged (vide 'Michaelis Suppl.', p. 303) - which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: - i.e. the day of Moses; though the custom continues to the present time among the Hebrews of cutting out this sinew from the beasts they kill and eat (vide Ainsworth in loco); but, according to Michaelis (Suppl., p. 305), eo nemo omnino mortalium, si vel nullo cogna-tionis gradu Jacobum attingat, nemo Graecus, nemo barbarus vesci velit - because he (i.e. the angel) touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.