Genesis 32

Jacob's journey home

1 Jacob continued on his journey to his father's house. On his way the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is where God's army has put up their tents!’ So he called that place Mahanaim.

32:1Jacob had seen the angels of God before. See Genesis 28:12. Now God sent his angels to meet Jacob again, to show that he was with Jacob.

3 Jacob sent men with a message to his brother Esau. Esau was living in the land of Seir, also called Edom. 4 Jacob told his men, ‘This is what you must say to my master Esau: Your servant Jacob says, “I have been staying with Laban until now. 5 I have cows, donkeys, sheep and goats. I have male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord so that you will be happy with me.” ’

6 When the men returned, they said to Jacob, ‘We went to your brother Esau. Now he is coming to meet you and he has 400 men with him.’ 7 Jacob was very frightened and upset when he heard this. So he separated his people into two groups. He also separated his animals. 8 He thought, ‘If Esau attacks one group, the other group may run away safely.’

9 Then Jacob prayed, ‘God of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac, Lord, you said to me, “Go back to your country and to your relatives. I will do good things for you there.” 10 You have always loved me. You have continued to be kind to me. I do not deserve this. When I crossed the Jordan River to go to Haran, I only had my stick. But now I can make two big groups of people and animals. 11 I pray that you will save me from the power of my brother Esau. I am afraid that he will come and attack me. He may also attack my family. 12 But you have said, “I will give you many good things. I will give you so many descendants that nobody will be able to count them. They will be as many as the pieces of sand on the shore of the sea.” ’

32:12See Genesis 28:14.

13 Jacob stayed in that place for the night. He chose some of his animals as a gift for Esau. 14 He chose 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 female sheep and 20 male sheep. 15 He also chose 30 female camels, with their young ones, 40 cows and ten bulls, 20 female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He told his servants to take care of them. He separated each group of animals from the other groups. Jacob said to his servants, ‘Go in front of me. Keep some space between each group of animals.’ 17 He told the servant who led the first group of animals, ‘When my brother Esau meets you, he may ask, “Who do you belong to? Where are you going? Who do all these animals belong to?” 18 Then you must say, “They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift that he has sent to my lord Esau. Jacob himself is coming behind us.” ’ 19 Jacob also told the servants who led the other groups of animals, as well as the servants who followed behind them, ‘You are to say the same thing to Esau, when you meet him. 20 You must also say “Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.” ’

Jacob thought, ‘Esau will be happy to receive my gifts. He will no longer be angry with me. Then, when I meet him, he will not hurt me.’ 21 So Jacob sent the men with his gifts to go on to meet Esau. But he himself stayed in that place for the night.

22 During the night Jacob took with him his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons. They went across the Jabbok river where there was a place to cross. 23 After Jacob had sent his family across, he also sent all his things across the stream. 24 Then Jacob was alone. A man came and fought with him for a long time. They continued until dawn.

32:22This part of the Jabbok river was not very deep. It was about 20 miles north of the Dead Sea.
32:24God came to Jacob as an angel. See Hosea 12:4-5.

25 The man saw that he was not winning the fight against Jacob. So he hit Jacob's hip while they were fighting. In that way, Jacob's hip moved out of its proper place. 26 Then the man said to Jacob, ‘Now let me go because dawn has come.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

32:25The hip is the top of a person's leg, where it joins his body.

27 The man asked Jacob, ‘What is your name?’ Jacob replied, ‘My name is Jacob.’ 28 Then the man said, ‘Your name will not be Jacob any longer. Your name will now be Israel. That is because you have fought with God and you have fought with men. And you have won!’

32:28Israel probably means ‘he fights with God’. God changed Jacob's name to give him a new beginning.

29 Then Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But the man said, ‘Why do you want to know my name?’ Then he blessed Jacob in that place. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel. He said, ‘I have seen God face to face, and I am still alive!’

32:30Peniel means ‘face of God’.

31 The sun rose in the sky as Jacob passed through Peniel. He could not walk properly because of his hip.

32 Even today, the Israelite people do not eat the meat of an animal where it joins to the hip. This is because God touched Jacob's hip.

32:32The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob, who was now called Israel. Jacob's 12 sons became the ancestors of Israel's 12 tribes.