Pax Hart

Genesis 32: Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

Jacob follows God’s command to return to the home of his relatives after years in service to Laban.

In his fear of Esau’s wrath, he sends a messenger ahead. Upon return, the messenger tells him Esau is on his way along with 400 men. Jacob splits his camp into two groups so that one may escape if Esau plans to attack. Jacob then prepares gifts to herds and sends them ahead as an offering to Esau.

In a night of fear, Jacob meets a stranger and wrestles him:

26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

This is tradition that those who see God face-to-face do not survive. This is in contradistinction to the God who walked in the cool of the garden with Adam and Eve and it is the promise in Revelations that God will dwell with man again.

After the fall, angels appear to the patriarchs and God speaks to them, but he does not show himself.

The character of God is profound: he beings as a supreme being creating man like a proud father. When sin enters the world, God becomes petulant and wrathful. It almost seems as though God is learning humanity, patience and forgiveness through his experiences with man.

The most widely accepted of the proposed sites for Mahanaim lies in Jordan, about ten miles east of the Jordan River. Tell edh-Dhahab el-Gharbi, the western one of the twin Tulul adh-Dhahab tells, is a possible location. Mahanaim was said to be in the same general area as Jabesh-gilead.