What does Genesis 32:26 mean?
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.”
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.'
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.'
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."
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.'
KJV: And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
NKJV: And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Genesis 32:22–32 describes the fight Jacob was not expecting. While preparing in fear to meet his brother Esau, Jacob finds himself grappling with an unknown stranger in the dark. He wrestles with the mysterious man for much of the night. Near morning, the man gains a massive advantage over Jacob by dislocating Jacob's hip. Jacob realizes his opponent is divine, and asks for a blessing. Poetically, God insists that Jacob, known for his deception and lies, identify himself first. In response to Jacob's honest answer, God changes his name to Israel and blesses him. As the sun rises, Jacob limps to rejoin his family and meet his brother.
Chapter Summary:
As Jacob turns from Laban and returns to his own country, he must face another fearful potential conflict. His twin brother Esau is coming with 400 men. Jacob fears this group approaches to take revenge for cheating Esau out of the family blessing 20 years earlier. Jacob is so afraid that he splits his company into two camps, even as he prays for deliverance. He also prepares an enormous gift to appease Esau. Finally, while alone in the dark, Jacob is unexpectedly forced to wrestle a mysterious man, who turns out to be God Himself in some manifested form. In a profound moment of symbolism, God forces Jacob to state his own name, which God then changes to Israel.
Chapter Context:
Jacob came to work for Laban while running from the murderous rage of his twin brother, Esau. Jacob was routinely cheated by Laban, eventually resolving to go back home along with his entire family. Unfortunately, this means coming back to face Esau. Jacob soon learns that Esau is headed his way with 400 men. Are they coming to kill Jacob in revenge for his deceit in stealing Isaac's blessing 20 years earlier? Jacob is afraid. He divides his large company into two camps. He prays earnestly to God for deliverance, and he prepares a huge gift to appease Esau. Finally, alone in the dark, Jacob physically grapples with a mysterious man who turns out to be God Himself, in some form. The man questions Jacob, changes his name to Israel, and pronounces a blessing. Thus prepared, Jacob will finally be reunited with his brother in the next chapter.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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