Genesis 32: Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

How did Jacob recognize God’s angels? How many were there? What did they say?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 32:1–2 As Jacob continued his journey, God’s angels came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God,” so he called that place Mahanaim.
King James
Genesis 32:1–2 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Beyond the specific instructions, what more might the men have said to Esau?

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Genesis 32:3–5 Jacob sent men ahead of him to deliver a message to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, in Edom. “This is what you must say,” he said to them. “Your servant Jacob has been staying with Laban until now. He has cattle, oxen, sheep, and goats, with male and female servants. With the hope that you will treat him with kindness, I have been sent to announce his coming.”
King James
Genesis 32:3–5 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 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: 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.

What kind of effort would have been needed for Esau to gather 400 men to travel with him? What motivated him to do that?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 32:6 The messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We met your brother Esau. He’s coming to meet you, and 400 men are with him.”
King James
Genesis 32:6 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.

Do you think Esau actually gathered 400 men, or was this just the way they interpreted his actions? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 32:7–8 Terrified at this news, Jacob divided his household and livestock into two groups, thinking, If Esau attacks one group, then the other group can escape.
Genesis 33:1 When Jacob saw Esau coming with 400 men, he separated his children with their mothers—Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants.
King James
Genesis 32:7–8 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; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.

Was Jacob’s plan to divide his household a good one? What might have been better?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 32:7–8 Terrified at this news, Jacob divided his household and livestock into two groups, thinking, If Esau attacks one group, then the other group can escape.
King James
Genesis 32:7–8 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; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

If the Lord had told Jacob to do what he was now doing and he believed God’s promise, what reasons did he have to fear?

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Genesis 32:9–12 “O God of Abraham and Isaac,” Jacob said, “the Lord told me to return to my homeland and I would prosper. I don’t deserve the loving kindness you have shown me. When I crossed the Jordan on the way to Haran, I had nothing but this walking stick. Now my family and possessions fill two large groups. Rescue me from the hand of my brother Esau. I’m afraid he’ll attack me, my wives, and my children. You said you would cause me to prosper, and my descendants will be as great as the sands of the seashore, too many to count.”
King James
Genesis 32:9–12 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: 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.

What percentage of his livestock do you think Jacob set aside to give to Esau?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 32:13–15 After spending the night there, Jacob selected a gift for his brother Esau: 200 female and 20 male goats, 200 ewes and 20 rams, 30 female camels with their colts, 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female and 10 male donkeys.
King James
Genesis 32:13–15 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

Why did Jacob send a succession of gift groups and not put everything together as one great gift?

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Genesis 32:16–20 He divided the herds and gave each group to different servants. “Go ahead of me,” he said, “and put space between each of your groups.”
To the leader of the first group, he said, “When you meet my brother Esau and he asks who you serve, where you are going, and who owns the animals, tell him, ‘All this belongs to your servant Jacob, gifts for his master Esau. He is following us.’”
Jacob gave the same instruction to all the other groups. “Be sure to tell them his servant Jacob is coming,” he said, hoping the succession of gifts would cause Esau to accept him with kindness when they met face-to-face.
King James
Genesis 32:16–20 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. 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? 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.

Why did Jacob take his family across the river and leave himself alone on the other side?

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Genesis 32:21–24 So the servants left with the gifts for Esau while Jacob and his family remained in the camp for another night.
Later that night, he took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons across the Jabbok river to safety on other side, along with all his possessions.
After that, Jacob was alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
King James
Genesis 32:21–24 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company. 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.

Who was the man who wrestled with Jacob? Why were they wrestling? Why wasn’t the man strong enough to win the match?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 32:24–25 After that, Jacob was alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man could not overpower him, he struck Jacob’s thigh while wrestling with him and dislocated his hip.
King James
Genesis 32:24–25 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 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.

For how long did Jacob and the man wrestle? Why did Jacob value the man’s blessing?

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Genesis 32:26 “Let me go,” the man said. “It’s daybreak.”
“No, I won’t let you go,” Jacob said, “not until you bless me.”
King James
Genesis 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

How did the man say Jacob’s name was Israel? Should a person wrestle with God? Why?

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Genesis 32:27–28 “What is your name?” the man said.
“Jacob,” he said.
“Not anymore,” the man said. “Israel is your name, because you have wrestled with God and men and have prevailed.”
King James
Genesis 32:27–28 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 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.

Why did Jacob want to know the man’s name? Did he get an answer? If so, what was it?

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Genesis 32:29–30 “Tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you need to ask my name?” Then the man blessed him there.
Jacob called that place Peniel, saying, “I have seen God face-to-face, and I’m alive to tell about it.”
King James
Genesis 32:29–30 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.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Why did the Israelites choose to respect Jacob and his limp?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 32:31–32 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he walked with a limp. In respect of Jacob’s injury, the Israelites to this day will not eat an animal’s thigh muscle.
King James
Genesis 32:31–32 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 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.