Jacob Returns Home and Receives a New Name

When Jacob, Isaac’s youngest son fled from the anger for his brother Esau, he traveled to Harran and lived there many years. He worked for his uncle, Laban. He married, raised a large family, and grew wealthy.

The time came for Jacob to return home. He, along with his property, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, servants, and his family began their journey. As they drew near to where Esau lived, he sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau. He also planned to pacify his angry brother with many gifts from his herds.

Jacob spent the night alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel [face of God], saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Later, when the messengers who had been sent to Esau returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”

Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men. Jacob went on ahead of his family and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Then Esau looked up and saw Jacob’s large family. “Who are these with you?” he asked.

Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”

Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I saw?”

“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.

But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

Later, Jacob went home to his father Isaac. Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Excerpts and edited verses from Genesis 32, 33, and 35