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Genesis chapter 32

New International Version

1 Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, 'This is the camp of God!' So he named that place Mahanaim.
3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: 'This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: 'Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.''
6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, 'We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.'
7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, 'If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.'
9 Then Jacob prayed, 'O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, 'I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.''
13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, 'Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.'
17 He instructed the one in the lead: 'When my brother Esau meets you and asks, 'Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?' 18 then you are to say, 'They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.''
19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: 'You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, 'Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.'' For he thought, 'I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.' 21 So Jacob's gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
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.'
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
English Standard Version

1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4 instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’”
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, 8 thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”
9 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
13 So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.” 17 He instructed the first, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.’” 19 He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, 20 and you shall say, ‘Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.
22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
King James Version

1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 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: 5 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. 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. 7 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; 8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
9 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: 10 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. 11 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. 12 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.
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; 14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, 15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. 16 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. 17 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? 18 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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company. 22 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. 23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 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. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 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. 29 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. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 32 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.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2 And when he saw them, Jacob said, 'This is God’s camp.' So he named that place Mahanaim.
3 Then Jacob sent messengers ahead of himself to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He commanded them, saying, 'This is what you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says the following: 'I have resided with Laban, and stayed until now; 5 and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent messengers to tell my lord, so that I may find favor in your sight.'?’?'
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.' 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks, the herds, and the camels, into two companies; 8 for he said, 'If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.'
9 Then Jacob said, 'God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the favor and of all the faithfulness, which You have shown to Your servant; for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11 Save me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will assuredly make you prosper and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be counted.’?'
13 So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 Then he placed them in the care of his servants, every flock by itself, and said to his servants, 'Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between flocks.' 17 And he commanded the one in front, saying, 'When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a gift sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’?' 19 Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the flocks, saying, 'In this way you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20 and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’?' For he said, 'I will appease him with the gift that goes ahead of me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.' 21 So the gift passed on ahead of him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.
22 Now he got up that same night and took his two wives, his two female slaves, and his eleven children, and crossed the shallow place of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had.
24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.' But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' 27 So he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' 28 Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have contended with God and with men, and have prevailed.' 29 And Jacob asked him and said, 'Please tell me your name.' But he said, 'Why is it that you ask my name?' And he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.' 31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his hip. 32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the tendon of the hip which is on the socket of the hip, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the tendon of the hip.
New Living Translation

1 As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, 'This is God's camp!' So he named the place Mahanaim.
3 Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom. 4 He told them, 'Give this message to my master Esau: 'Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban, 5 and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.''
6 After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, 'We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you--with an army of 400 men!' 7 Jacob was terrified at the news. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. 8 He thought, 'If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape.'
9 Then Jacob prayed, 'O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac--O LORD, you told me, 'Return to your own land and to your relatives.' And you promised me, 'I will treat you kindly.' 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! 11 O LORD, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, 'I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore--too many to count.''
13 Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau: 14 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 15 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys. 16 He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, 'Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.'
17 He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: 'When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, 'Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?' 18 You must reply, 'They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us.''
19 Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: 'You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him.
20 And be sure to say, 'Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.'' Jacob thought, 'I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.' 21 So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp.
22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. 23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob's hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
26 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.'
27 'What is your name?' the man asked. He replied, 'Jacob.'
28 'Your name will no longer be Jacob,' the man told him. 'From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.'
29 'Please tell me your name,' Jacob said. 'Why do you want to know my name?' the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means 'face of God'), for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.' 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. 32 (Even today the people of Israel don't eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob's hip.)
Christian Standard Bible

1 Jacob went on his way, and God's angels met him. 2 When he saw them, Jacob said, "This is God's camp." So he called that place Mahanaim.
3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the territory of Edom. 4 He commanded them, "You are to say to my lord Esau, 'This is what your servant Jacob says. I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves. I have sent this message to inform my lord, in order to seek your favor.'"
6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you--and he has four hundred men with him." 7 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; he divided the people with him into two camps, along with the flocks, herds, and camels. 8 He thought, "If Esau comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining one can escape."
9 Then Jacob said, "God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who said to me, 'Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,' 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. Indeed, I crossed over the Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. 12 You have said, 'I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, too numerous to be counted.'"
13 He spent the night there and took part of what he had brought with him as a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. 16 He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, "Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds."
17 And he told the first one: "When my brother Esau meets you and asks, 'Who do you belong to? Where are you going? And whose animals are these ahead of you?' 18 then tell him, 'They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And look, he is behind us.'"
19 He also told the second one, the third, and everyone who was walking behind the animals, "Say the same thing to Esau when you find him. 20 You are also to say, 'Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.'" For he thought, "I want to appease Esau with the gift that is going ahead of me. After that, I can face him, and perhaps he will forgive me."
21 So the gift was sent on ahead of him while he remained in the camp that night. 22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two slave women, and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, along with all his possessions.
24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob's hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.
26 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."
27 "What is your name?" the man asked. "Jacob," he replied.
28 "Your name will no longer be Jacob," he said. "It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed."
29 Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he answered, "Why do you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.
30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, "For I have seen God face to face," he said, "yet my life has been spared." 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel--limping because of his hip. 32 That is why, still today, the Israelites don't eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because he struck Jacob's hip socket at the thigh muscle.

What does Genesis chapter 32 mean?

Jacob has resolved his conflict with Laban and now returns to the land of Canaan. He faces another unresolved conflict, however. He must pass near the region where his twin brother Esau lives to return home.

After being met by some angels of God and declaring that place "God's camp," Jacob begins working a strategy to know if he can make peace with Esau. Twenty years have passed since Jacob cheated Esau out of the family blessing. He did this by pretending to be Esau, fooling their blind father, Isaac. Esau became murderous in response (Genesis 27). When their mother Rebekah learned of Esau's plan to kill Jacob, he had literally run for his life to Laban's household in Paddan-Aram (Genesis 28:1–5).

Now returning to his homeland, Jacob could not know if Esau had forgiven him. Jacob begins by sending messengers to Esau to let him know he is back in the land, that he is wealthy, and that he hopes to find favor in Esau's sight. He calls Esau lord and himself Esau's servant (Genesis 32:1–5).

When Jacob's servant returns from Esau, he brings no message other than that Esau is coming with 400 men. Jacob can't know but must presume that Esau is coming to attack him. He grows greatly distressed and fearful—so terrified that he plans to potentially lose half of his own people. Jacob's first response is to divide everything in his large company into two camps. If Esau attacks one group, perhaps the other half of the company can survive (Genesis 32:6–8).

Though Jacob seems to plan for the worst possible outcome, he prays with great faith and humility. He addresses the God of Abraham and Isaac and reminds God—and himself—that he is in this position because of God. He is obeying God's command to return, and trusting His promise to do good for Jacob. Jacob acknowledges that God has shown his love and faithfulness far beyond what Jacob deserves. Jacob then clearly expresses his fear of Esau and asks God to deliver him, reminding God once more of His promise to make of Jacob a great nation (Genesis 32:9–12).

Next, Jacob prepares an enormous gift, sent ahead to his brother Esau, in hopes of appeasing his presumed anger. The last time these two men spoke, Esau had planned to kill Jacob in revenge (Genesis 27:41–45). The gift includes five herds of animals: goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys, some 550 animals in all. They are to reach Esau, one herd after the other, each with a message to "my lord Esau" that his "servant Jacob" presents these gifts and follows behind (Genesis 32:13–20).

Having sent the gift on its way, Jacob rises in the night. He packs up his family and all he owns, and crosses over the Jabbok River, only to return alone to the other side. There he is unexpectedly—and without any biblical explanation—engaged in a wrestling match, in the dark, with a mysterious stranger. Jacob and this unknown assailant appear to be evenly matched in this physical combat, which continues nearly to dawn. Finally, the mysterious man attains a major advantage over Jacob, dislocating Jacob's hip (Genesis 32:21–25).

Jacob, somehow realizing he has been wrestling God Himself, or perhaps an angel, refuses to release his combatant without a blessing. In a deeply symbolic moment, the man insists that Jacob—infamous for his deception and trickery (Genesis 27:36)—identify himself. Jacob does so, honestly, seeming to admit not only his true self but his position of weakness. In response, the man, now revealed to be God, changes Jacob's name to Israel. Israel means "God fights." The man says that Jacob has fought with God and with men, and has prevailed (Genesis 32:26–30).

The man blesses Jacob and Jacob renames the place Peniel, meaning "face of God." Jacob declares he has seen God's face and been allowed to live. As the sun rises, he limps away to rejoin his family and meet his brother (Genesis 32:31–32).