What does Genesis 32:31 mean?
ESV: The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
NIV: The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
NASB: Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his hip.
CSB: The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel --limping because of his hip.
NLT: The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.
KJV: And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob's long night finally comes to an end. He has learned of his estranged brother's approach with 400 men (Genesis 32:6) and prepared a lavish parade of gifts to blunt Esau's decades-old anger (Genesis 27:41–45). After sending his family across a river, Jacob found himself grappling with a mysterious opponent. Despite being seriously injured (Genesis 32:25), Jacob refused to submit, instead demanding a blessing. The man demanded to know Jacob's name, giving someone with a reputation for lying an opportunity to be honest. Jacob tells the truth, and God renames him Israel.

This injury does not seem to be minor. Not only does this verse make a point of saying that Jacob is limping, the next verse indicates that his descendants commemorate this moment by not eating hip sinews. Dislocations can, in fact, cause permanent damage. It's not unlikely that Jacob's overnight wrestling match permanently affected both his spirituality, and his body.

As the sun rises, Jacob limps past the place he has now renamed Peniel, reflecting this moment where he came face-to-face with God and was spared from death (Genesis 32:30). After all of this, Jacob is now ready to rejoin his family and show his face to his twin brother Esau. His fear is likely now greatly diminished, having survived a far deadlier encounter and having received a new name and a blessing from God.
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.
Accessed 4/22/2024 8:43:11 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.