Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Eugène Delacroix (from here (en.wikipedia.org))

Why Did Jacob Ask For A Second Blessing?

Sometimes the Bible can be difficult to understand. Why? I guess there are at least three reasons.

  • The Bible tells us about our Creator, and we have trouble understanding our Creator because He is so unlike us. We are just His creatures, finite and limited. He is infinite.
  • The Bible was written by people who lived thousands of years ago to people who lived thousands of years ago. That is, the Bible was written for us, but not to us. Therefore, even when we read the best translations of the Bible we still have to put ourselves in the place of people long dead.
  • The Bible tells us the truth about ourselves, and we don’t want to know the truth about ourselves. That truth humbles us, and being humbled is quite unpleasant.

Can we avoid being so humbled? No, not if we want to be saved. We cannot accept the gift of salvation until we understand why we need to be saved. This truth is apparent even in the Old Testament, even in the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 32:24-32.

Genesis 32:24-32

New American Standard Bible

Jacob Wrestles

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 [a]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 [b]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 [c]Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my [d]life has been [e]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.

This story seems weird. That is particularly true if we don’t know the meaning of the names Jacob and Israel and if we forget important, but seemingly minor details about Jacob’s life.

Jacob was the twin brother of Esau, which means red (from here (biblestudytools.com)). Esau was born first, and Jacob was born grabbing his brother’s heel. Jacob means supplanter (from here (biblestudytools.com)).

Supplanter? Yes. Jacob could be a treacherous fellow. Genesis 27 tells us how Jacob lied to his father and took the blessing that Isaac had intended for Esau. Here is the pertinent part. Here Jacob tricks his elderly, blind father.

Genesis 27:18-29

New American Standard Bible

18 Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Come now, sit and eat of my game, so that [a]you may bless me.” 20 Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the Lord your God made it [b]come to me.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come close, so that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob came close to his father Isaac, and he touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24 And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.” 25 So he said, “Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that [c]I may bless you.” And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come close and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son

Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed;

28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,

And of the fatness of the earth,

And an abundance of grain and new wine;

29 May peoples serve you,

And nations bow down to you;

Be master of your brothers,

And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

Cursed be those who curse you,

And blessed be those who bless you.”

When Isaac asked Jacob his name, Jacob lied. He lied to his father, his old, blind father. Jacob had to know this was wrong. So, his conscience must have nagged him.

When Esau heard of Jacob’s betrayal, he became enraged. To save Jacob and to ensure he married a woman from his own people, Rebecca persuaded Isaac to send Jacob to distant relatives. There Jacob married Rachel and Leah and began to assemble his own family.

Eventually God called Jacob back to the promised land. Genesis 32:24-32, that short little story about Jacob wrestling with an angel begins when Jacob is on his way home. Genesis 32:24-32 begins when Jacob still fears Esau. Afraid, Jacob sends his family and his followers ahead. Thus, he meets the Angel of God alone and wrestles with Him.

What was all that wrestling about? Does Jacob try to pin God’s shoulders to the ground? No. Jacob clings to God, and he refuses to let go. Jacob begs for a blessing.

Why does Jacob want a blessing? Jacob knows he obtained the first blessing deceitfully. Perhaps, because of his terror of Esau, and perhaps because he has been a victim of deceit (see Genesis 29:21-35), Jacob has begun to understand his own treachery, his own failings, and his own inadequacy. Jacob knows he needs a savior. He needs God. Therefore, Jacob asks for a second blessing.

How do we know why Jacob wanted that second blessing, a blessing from God? The Angel of God asked Jacob his name, and this time Jacob told the truth. Then God gives Jacob a new name, Israel, which means one who wrestles with God (from here (biblestudytools.com)).

To Be Continued: Part 2 => What Can We Learn From Jacob’s Request For A Second Blessing?

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