Genesis 32:24-28 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
The sages teach that Jacob had sent everyone else across the river, but had some items which had been forgotten, so he stayed behind to gather up those things. He was alone and in the night, Esau’s guardian angel approached him as a man and the wrestled throughout the night. They also teach that this wrestling was a “physical manifestation of the two brothers’ inner, spiritual struggle over the birthright.”
When Esau’s guardian angel saw that he could not overcome him, he touched Jacob’s hip joint, so that Jacob’s hip joint became dislocated as he wrestled with him.
27 The angel then said, “Let me leave, for I must go sing my daily morning praise to God, for dawn is breaking.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you leave unless you first bless me by acknowledging my right to the blessings my father gave me, which Esau is now contesting.” ~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Jacob did not want to wait for his blessing. They were wrestling over the rightful ownership of the birthright, over the blessing Isaac had bestowed on Jacob. His desire was for the spiritual realm to acknowledge his rightful ownership of the blessing. He desired the balance of heaven and earth in agreement over this blessing.
The angel then said, “Be patient. God will soon appear to you and give you an alternative name. No longer shall it be said that your name is just Jacob[Ya’akov, from the verb akov—“ensnare”22], implying that you usurped Esau’s blessings, but rather, you will also be called Israel [Yisrael, from serarah, “nobility,” and also meaning “striven with God”], implying that you obtained the blessings from your father honorably, for you have striven with me—an angel of God—and with men—i.e., Esau and Laban—over what is rightfully yours, and you have prevailed over the three of us. I will be present to consent to this additional naming, thereby acknowledging your right to the birthright.“
30 Jacob inquired and said, “Please tell me your name.”
He replied, “Why do you ask what my name is? We angels have no fixed names; our names merely express the missions we are sent on; they therefore change as our missions change.“
Jacob did not agree to wait until God would appear to him at some unknown point in the future, because he wanted Esau’s guardian angel to acknowledge his right to the birthright before he confronted Esau himself. So, as Jacob had requested, the angel blessed Jacob then and there. Jacob then released his hold on the angel and he disappeared.~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Jacob is holding onto this angel, just as he held onto the heel of Esau in their birth. He is not letting go. It is imperative to him to receive this blessing now before he meets with Esau. Jacob holds onto to this angel, who must get back to perform his morning praise to God, and says, “Oh no! You aren’t going anywhere until you bless me! Acknowledge that I honorably received this blessing from my father! Clear my name both in heaven and on earth! You say you will be there to consent to my name being changed and will acknowledge that I am the rightful owner of the birthright…well what is your name? What is the name of the one who will testify on my behalf? If you will do it then, why not now? Why wait? This thing needs to be done NOW before I meet with Esau so that he will meet me with peace in his heart rather than malice.” This angel realized that Jacob truly was not going to let go. He was going to hang on to all that he believed true, his ownership of the birthright, Torah (instruction), and the ways of the LORD. So the angel blessed him.
Notice that Jacob had striven with a) the angel of God b)with men (2 men: Esau and Laban). He had prevailed against three powerful things in this physical realm, two of which presided in the physical realm he lives in and one from the spiritual realm. He had to overcome these three things for the truth to be seen and recognized. Remember from previous teachings that the number three is the number for truth. Jacob is seeking his reward, the truth of the blessing of the birthright to come to light.
The sages teach that the gimel symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man, the dalet, to give him charity. The word gimel is derived from the word gemul which in Hebrew means both the giving of reward as well as the giving of punishment. In Torah (instruction), both reward and punishment have the same ultimate aim the rectification of the soul to merit to receive God’s light to the fullest extent. Reward and punishment imply that man is free to choose between good and evil. This is alluded to by the leg of the letter gimel which expresses the running of the rich man to bestow good upon the poor man. Running, more than any other physical act, expresses the power of will and freedom of choice. In running, the leg is firmly in contact with the earth; through an act of will, the soul directly affects physical reality.
Gimel: Camel; bridge; weaning; benevolence; a symbol of stability and balance.
Gold Nuggets for Today
Jacob, at birth, held on to Esau’s heel. Jacob in today’s study is holding on to Esau’s guardian angel and refuses to let him go until he blesses him. Do we hang on to our Divine mission the way Jacob held on and fought for the truth of his rightful ownership of the birthright? Are we wholeheartedly seeking to bring the love of Jesus to all of mankind? Intercession is the chief means appointed by God to bring the great redemption within reach of all.
Just as Jacob held tight to the angel, we can stand fast in front of God and cry out for His blessings upon our churches, our communities, our cities, and the nations! Pray that we will be men and women of prayer, filled with love, in whom the power of the spiritual life is made manifest.
Pray for national Christians that they may know the glory of the mystery among unbelievers~”Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in His glory” (Colossians 1:27). Pray for students in the schools, that the teaching of God’s word may be in power. Pray for the national pastors and evangelists that Holy Spirit may fill them to be witnesses for Christ in their country. Pray that the life they live speaks more volumes than the words which come from their mouths. Pray that others will see the Light of God in the way we live our lives because our actions speak louder than our words. Pray for our churches, that they will be lifted out of their indifference! Pray that every believer may understand that the one object of life is to create a dwelling place for God here in the physical realm! We do not wait on death to transport us to heaven to dwell with God. We create a place, here and now, in the physical realm for Him to dwell with us.
Father, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I thank you that Jacob wrestled with Esau, Laban, and the guardian angel of Esau and prevailed. I thank you that he had the foresight to hang to that angel until he received his blessing. Thank you that he clung to your truth, and that the truth came to light and set him free. O, LORD, that we, may have that same determination. That we will wrestle and prevail. That we will not give up but cling tightly to that truth, and that others will see Your truth in us. May we become the intercessors You desire. May we seek Your blessings on each one that we cover in prayer. Thank you, Father, for teaching us. Thank you for showing us our indifference and how that indifference is affecting your work negatively. Thank you for not giving up on us, but pushing us to move out of complacency into Your Power through Prayer! Lord, nations can be changed without one person leaving home, just through the power of prayer! Tell us when to move and when to stand still. Tell us when to hang on tightly as Jacob and when to let go. Guide our steps and our words. Father, protect us from our own ignorance! May each word which proceeds from our mouth speak life into others. Close our lips and do not allow anything to escape from them that does not bring life to others. May You be blessed through the work that we do. May You receive all honor and glory! In Jesus name. Amen.