Jacob is getting ready to meet up with Esau, and he hopes that his bigfoot-like brother will have forgotten the whole thing about Jacob stealing his blessing and birthright. But first, he has a wrestling match with God. Completely normal, I know.
- Jacob left the hills where Laban had caught up to him, and renamed yet another place, saying that he had seen angels of the Lord there.
2. He sent messages ahead of him, to the country of Edom, where Esau was living. He told them to say, ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban for the past 14 years,
3. 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.’
4. He of course pretended that Esau was his lord, because if he mentioned the birthright he stole from him Esau would probably plot to kill him again.
5. The messenger returned and delivered a message to Jacob, “Well, Esau has gotten your message, and he is coming to greet you,” he said, “he has an army of 400 men with him.”
6. Jacob divided his people into two groups in ‘great fear and distress’, ignoring the fact that God was with him, aka. stalking him.
7. “If one group is attacked, the other will escape” Jacob said. He then prayed to the Lord, “God of Abraham, and Isaac, and me, and everybody else apparently, who told me to go back to my country, and said that you will make me prosper.
8. I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant, like the fact you haven’t killed me, or the fact you didn’t warn me about me having to marry Leah before Rachel, or… nevermind.
9. Anyway, Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me.”
10. Jacob found a gift to give Esau, it wasn’t much, it was only two hundred and twenty goats, two hundred and twenty sheep, thirty camels, fifty cows, and thirty donkeys. Like I said, not much.
11. He sent his servants ahead of him with all of those animals, instructing them to tell Esau that they were a gift to him from his ‘servant’ Jacob.
12. That night Jacob took his two wives, two servants and eleven sons – funny how there was no daughters, isn’t it? – and crossed the ford of Jabbok. He sent across his belongings, and then God decided to have a wrestling match with him.
13. God, the all-powerful deity, wrestled with Jacob all night, and was unable to overpower him.
14. In fact, God only won by touching the socket of Jacob’s hip, essentially cheating.
15. God went to leave, but Jacob wanted him to bless him.
16. “What is your name?” God said, forgetting who it was he had been stalking for the past 14+ years. Jacob told God his name, but God didn’t like it, so he changed it.
17. Just like Jacob and his ancestors had a habit of renaming things without permission, God renamed Jacob.
18. ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, it shall be Israel, because you have struggled with God” the Lord said.
19. “What is your name?” Jacob asked, “None of your goddamn business,” God replied, “In fact, I have a lot of names.”
20. Jacob named the place Peniel, because he had seen the face of God and lived. Apparently God is Medusa now.
21. And to this day (not really) the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the hip of any animal, because God had touched one man there. A little extreme, but that is God’s specialty.
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