Genesis 32:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 32:26, NIV: "Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'"

Genesis 32:26, ESV: "Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”"

Genesis 32:26, KJV: "And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."

Genesis 32:26, NASB: "Then he said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.' But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'"

Genesis 32:26, NLT: "Then the man said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'"

Genesis 32:26, CSB: "Then he said to Jacob, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me.""

What does Genesis 32:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob recently completed extensive preparations, out of fear that his estranged brother might be planning an attack (Genesis 32:6). As it turns out, Jacob was attacked, but not by his brother Esau. Instead, left alone in the night, Jacob has been attacked by a mysterious and unknown man. The two have engaged in real, physical combat, wrestling with each other until dawn. We will soon learn that this mysterious man is God in some kind of physical form (Genesis 32:28).

As their stalemate continues, the man suddenly puts Jacob's hip out of joint. The mention of "touch" is not meant to imply that this was some kind of miracle or other supernatural act. These men are grappling—a contest which by definition involves leverage and wrenching against the joints. Like an instructor who "cannot" defeat a student using self-restrained tactics, this man "cannot" defeat Jacob until deciding to strike a decisive—possibly permanent (Genesis 32:31)—blow. This, of course, means Jacob is now at a total disadvantage.

Although clearly defeated, Jacob will not release the man. The man insists, wanting to leave since dawn has come. Jacob refuses. He recognizes this man has supernatural power. In fact, he seems to understand this is God or a representative of Him. Jacob insists that the man bless him. This request sets up one of the most profound moments of symbolism in the entire Old Testament.

Jacob's history and personality are key to understanding this passage. His past is littered with incidents of deception and disguise (Genesis 27:22–23; 29:21–25). He is known to be a liar and deceiver (Genesis 27:36). His most famous scam was impersonating his brother in order to trick his father into giving him a blessing (Genesis 27:30–35). Even the Hebrew words used here are pregnant with meaning: the river is named Yab'bōq, meaning "emptying." Jacob's name in Hebrew is Ya'aqōb, which means "heel-grabber." And the combat described here is yē'ābēq.

All of this plays into the critical moment described in the next verse.