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Jacob Fears Esau

32 And Jacob went on his way, and angels of God met him. And when he saw them, Jacob said, “This is the camp of God!” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother, to the land of Seir, the territory of Edom. And he instructed them, saying, “Thus you must say to my lord, to Esau, ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, I have dwelled as an alien with Laban, and I have remained there until now. And I have acquired cattle, male donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves, and I have sent to tell my lord, to find favor in your eyes.’” And the messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We came to your brother, to Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Then Jacob was very frightened and distressed. So he divided the people, flocks, cattle, and camels that were with him into two companies. And he thought, “If Esau comes to one company and destroys it, the remaining company will be able to escape.” Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Yahweh, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your family, and I will deal well with you.’ 10 I am not worthy[a] of all the loyal love and all the faithfulness that you have shown[b] your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, lest he come and attack mother and children alike. 12 Now you yourself said, ‘I will surely deal well with you and make your offspring as the sand of the sea that cannot be counted for abundance.’”

13 And he lodged there that night. Then he took from what he had with him[c] a gift for Esau his brother: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. 16 And he put them under the hand of his servants, herd by herd,[d] and said to his servants, “Cross on ahead before me, and put some distance between herds.[e] 17 And he instructed the foremost, saying, “When Esau my brother comes upon you and asks you, saying, ‘Whose are you and where are you going? To whom do these animals belong ahead of you?’ 18 Then you must say, ‘To your servant, to Jacob. It is a gift sent to my lord, to Esau. Now behold, he is also coming after us.’” 19 And he also instructed the second servant and the third, and everyone else who was behind the herds, saying, “You must speak to Esau according to this word when you find him. 20 And moreover, you shall say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “Let me appease him[f] with the gift going before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will show me favor.”[g] 21 So the gift passed on before him, but he himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles with God

22 That night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 And he took them and sent them across the stream. Then he sent across all his possessions. 24 And Jacob remained alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the dawn. 25 And when he[h] saw that he could not prevail against him, he struck his hip socket, so that Jacob’s hip socket was sprained as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he[i] said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 Then he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[j] for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked and said, “Please tell me your name.” And he said, “Why do you ask this—for my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 Then Jacob called the name of the place Peniel which means “I have seen God face to face and my life was spared.” 31 Then the sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore the Israelites[k] do not eat the sinew of the sciatic nerve that is upon the socket of the hip unto this day, because he struck the socket of the thigh of Jacob at the sinew of the sciatic nerve.


  1. Genesis 32:10 Literally “I am small”
  2. Genesis 32:10 Or “done”
  3. Genesis 32:13 Literally “from that which was going from his hand”
  4. Genesis 32:16 Literally “every herd by its own”
  5. Genesis 32:16 Literally “between a herd and between a herd”
  6. Genesis 32:20 Literally “let me cover his face”
  7. Genesis 32:20 Literally “lift up my face”
  8. Genesis 32:25 That is, the man
  9. Genesis 32:26 That is, the man
  10. Genesis 32:28 “Israel” means “he struggles with God,” or “God struggles”
  11. Genesis 32:32 Literally “sons/children of Israel”

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

32 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God(A) met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!”(B) So he named that place Mahanaim.[b](C)

Jacob sent messengers(D) ahead of him to his brother Esau(E) in the land of Seir,(F) the country of Edom.(G) He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord(H) Esau: ‘Your servant(I) Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban(J) and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants.(K) Now I am sending this message to my lord,(L) that I may find favor in your eyes.(M)’”

When the messengers 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.”(N)

In great fear(O) and distress(P) Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c](Q) and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham,(R) God of my father Isaac,(S) Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’(T) 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness(U) you have shown your servant. I had only my staff(V) when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.(W) 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid(X) he will come and attack me,(Y) and also the mothers with their children.(Z) 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand(AA) of the sea, which cannot be counted.(AB)’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift(AC) for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,(AD) 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.(AE) 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”(AF)

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant(AG) Jacob. They are a gift(AH) sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant(AI) Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts(AJ) I am sending on ahead;(AK) later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.”(AL) 21 So Jacob’s gifts(AM) went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons(AN) and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.(AO) 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.(AP) 24 So Jacob was left alone,(AQ) and a man(AR) wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip(AS) so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

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

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

“Jacob,”(AU) he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name(AV) will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f](AW) because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”(AX)

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”(AY)

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

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

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h](BC) and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip,(BD) because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.


  1. Genesis 32:1 In Hebrew texts 32:1-32 is numbered 32:2-33.
  2. Genesis 32:2 Mahanaim means two camps.
  3. Genesis 32:7 Or camps
  4. Genesis 32:8 Or camp
  5. Genesis 32:8 Or camp
  6. Genesis 32:28 Israel probably means he struggles with God.
  7. Genesis 32:30 Peniel means face of God.
  8. Genesis 32:31 Hebrew Penuel, a variant of Peniel

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