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Genesis 32: The Strangest Wresting Match Ever

Segun AiyegbusiComment
Genesis 32: The Strangest Wresting Match Ever

Journey through the Book of Genesis with me.  The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!

** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier! 

Genesis 32:1-31


QUESTION 1: Is Esau’s “400 men” a welcome party or an army?

QUESTION 2: When Jacob sends his family ahead of him in verse 21 so he can spend the night alone in the camp, what was his intention? Was this an escape plan in the making or was this so he could spend time alone in prayer?

QUESTION 3: Why is a wrestling match God’s chosen method of meeting with Jacob? (V.24)

QUESTION 4: Why fight till daybreak (v.26)? It wasn’t like God couldn’t beat him off earlier.

QUESTION 5: In Exodus 33:20, God says, “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” So, how is it possible that Jacob not only saw God, but wrestled with Him, and lived?

QUESTION 6: When verse 29 says, “[God] blessed him there”, what was Jacob/Israel blessed with?

Question 7: Why does God continue to refer to Jacob as “Jacob” (Exodus 3:15) throughout the rest of scripture when He specially said in v.27, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,…”?


INSIGHT 1: At the very start of his journey back home, “…the angels of God met him.” to escort him back to his inheritance as personal security detail.

INSIGHT 2: It was very shrewd of Jacob to stagger the “gift packages” he sends to Esau, more than likely to wear down Esau’s resolve by the time they finally meet up (v.20).

INSIGHT 3: It is unclear why Esau would ride with 400 men to meet with his brother. On the one hand, this might be an army readied to fight incase Jacob had returned to “steal” more things. On the other hand, this might truly indeed be “welcoming party” to help his brother along the way. I’m inclined to believe the former. In v.7-8, Jacob clearly thought Esau was riding up to do him harm.

Insight 4: When Jacob arrived in Paddan-aram, he literally showed up with only “a staff in hand” (v.10); yet, in his 20 years there, God had so blessed him and helped him accumulate so much wealth (Genesis 30:43) that upon his return home he had an excess of livestock, enough to “bribe” his brother with, “two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.” (v.15).

INSIGHT 5: It is odd that this midnight stranger, who is later identified by Jacob as God Himself (v.30), would choose a wrestling match as the way to “get through” to Jacob. It is possible that in light of Jacob’s physical strength (Genesis 29: 2-3, 10), this fight was the only way to get his attention.

INSIGHT 6: Jacob held on in the fight, even after “his hip was wrenched” because he suddenly realized that the God who had had been speaking with him since he left his home was now in his presence. Hence his cry, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (v.26)

INSIGHT 7: The man Jacob was prior to this fight is different than the man he became after the fight. It’s interesting to note that Jacob went into that quiet night alone seeking God for one thing (protection from his brother riding to meet him with an army of 400 men), yet, God gave Jacob something completely different, something Jacob would never even have thought to ask for, but what he was most desperately in need of. God gave him A NEW IDENTITY. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” V.28. God just essentially said, “you will no longer wear this false label of “liar” and “deceiver” that associates you with your ugly past, but you will NOW and forever be identified by your time spent with me, Your name shall now be called, “Israel, the one who strives with God.” His new name means, “Triumphant with God.”