King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 32

Jacob’s vision at Mahanaim, His fear of Esau. (1-8) Jacob’s earnest prayer for deliverance, He prepares a present for Esau. (9-23) He wrestles with the Angel. (24-32)

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Jacob’s vision at Mahanaim, His fear of Esau

1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Jacob’s earnest prayer for deliverance, He prepares a present for Esau

9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;

14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,

15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?

18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.

20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.

21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

He wrestles with the Angel

24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Angels. Guardians of Chanaan and Mesopotamia. Jarchi. — The latter escorted him as far as the torrent Jaboc. That angels guard different provinces, is well attested, Dan. xii. 1. Acts xvi. 9. C. — Michael protected Chanaan and the people of God. Diodorus of Tarsus. M.

Ver. 2. Mahanaim, “two camps.” A town was afterwards built here.

Ver. 3. Edom; comprising the countries east, west, and south of the Dead sea. C. — Providentially, Esau had now left his father’s house open to his brother; who, on this occasion, addresses him with the utmost civility, and speaks of the riches which he had obtained; in order that Esau might neither be ashamed of him, nor suspect that he would impoverish his father. M.

Ver. 6. Men. Jonathan has Polemarchoi; officers or warriors, either to punish Jacob, (Wisd. x. 12.) as the latter feared, v. 11; or to do him honour, as Esau protested. C. xxxiii. 15. C.

Ver. 9. God of…Isaac. It is not true, therefore, that God never has the title of God of any man, while living, as some assert. C. xxxi. 42. Jacob addresses him by those very titles which he had assumed at Bethel. C. xxviii. 13. H.

Ver. 10. Not worthy. Chal. “my merits are beneath all thy kindnesses.” S. Aug. reads, with S. Cyril, idoneus es, &c. “thou art sufficient for me.”

Ver. 11. The children; sparing neither sex nor age, but destroying all. C. — Jacob insists on the promises of God; yet fears lest he should, by some offence, have deserved to forfeit his protection; particularly, as he had been living 20 years among idolaters. He acts with all prudence. W.

Ver. 15. Camels. The milk of these animals is most exquisite, being mixed with three parts water. Pliny xi. 41, who says, “They give milk till they be with young again.” The Arabs feed chiefly on their milk and flesh. S. Jer. c. Jor. ii. The value of all these presents, may give us some idea of the prodigious wealth which God had heaped upon Jacob in the space of six years! H.

Ver. 20. He said, &c. These words were not to be related to Esau; they are the words of the sacred historian. There were probably five droves of goats, sheep, camels, kine and asses; by the successive presenting of which, Esau might be appeased.

Ver. 22. Sons, with Dina his daughter, and all his household.

Ver. 23. All things. Grotius thinks this has been lost in the Heb. copies; as it occurs in the Sam. Sept. and Syriac.

Ver. 24. A man, &c. This was an angel in human shape, as we learn from Osee xii. 4. He is called God, v. 28. and 30, because he represented the person of the Son of God. This wrestling, in which Jacob, assisted by God, was a match for an angel, was so ordered, (v. 28.) that he might learn by this experiment of the divine assistance, that neither Esau, nor any other man, should have power to hurt him. It was also spiritual, as appeareth by his earnest prayer, urging, and at last obtaining the angel’s blessing. Ch. — The father will not refuse a good gift to those who ask him with fervour and humility. Jacob had before set us an excellent pattern how to pray, placing his confidence in God, and distrusting himself, v. 9. &c. H. — It is not certain, whether Jacob remained alone on the northern or on the southern banks of Jaboc. C.

Ver. 25. Sinew, near the coxendix, or huckel-bone. D. This was to convince Jacob, how easily he could have gained the victory over him; and to make him remember, that it was not simply a vision, but a real wrestling. T.

Ver. 28. Israel. This name was more honourable, and that by which his posterity were afterwards known; being called Israelites, and not Jacobites. God ratifies the title. C. xxxv. 10. It means a prince of God. S. Jer. q. Heb. (C.) or one standing upright, and contending victoriously with God, rectus Dei, yisrael. H. — Many have expounded it, a man seeing God; aiss-rae-al. Philo, &c.

Ver. 29. Why, &c. He represses Jacob’s curiosity, (H.) perhaps because God did not as yet choose to reveal his name. Ex. vi. 3. Some Greek and Latin copies add, which is wonderful, taken from Jud. xiii. 6. 18. C.

Ver. 30. Phanuel. This word signifies the face of God, or the sight, or seeing of God. Ch. — Hebrew reads here Peni-el, though it has Phanuel in the next verse. Jacob thus returns thanks to God for the preservation of his life, after having seen God or his angel in a corporeal form, and not in a dream only. C.

Ver. 31. Halted, or was lame. Alulensis thinks the angel healed him very soon. M.

Ver. 32. The sinew in beasts of any kind, corresponding with that part of Jacob’s thigh. H. — Some refrain from the whole quarter, others extract the sinew. This they do, without any command, in memory of this transaction. C.