jacob wrestling with an angel

by seesthesky 10 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • seesthesky

    What do you think the following Genesis verses represent?

    24 Finally Jacob was left by himself. Then a man began to grapple with him until the dawn ascended. 25 When he got to see that he had not prevailed over him, then he touched the socket of his thigh joint; and the socket of Jacob?s thigh joint got out of place during his grappling with him. 26 After that he said: ?Let me go, for the dawn has ascended.? To this he said: ?I am not going to let you go until you first bless me.? 27 So he said to him: ?What is your name?? to which he said: ?Jacob.? 28 Then he said: ?Your name will no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for you have contended with God and with men so that you at last prevailed.? 29 In turn Jacob inquired and said: ?Tell me, please, your name.? However, he said: ?Why is it that you inquire for my name?? With that he blessed him there. 30 Hence Jacob called the name of the place Pe·ni´el, because, to quote him, ?I have seen God face to face and yet my soul was delivered.?


  • gaiagirl

    It would be interesting to learn the history of this story, whether it is original to Genesis, or like so much else, borrowed from another culture. And when did the idea that the opponent was an angel begin? The writer refers to Jacobs opponent as "a man", not an angel. Jacob is quoted as saying he saw God "face to face". In some ways it reminds me of a story about Hercules wrestling with a giant (Antaeus?).

  • Simon

    Like many other bible fables the moral seems to be "physical violence pays off"

  • Jim_TX

    "...began to grapple with him until the dawn ascended."

    "...After that he said: 'Let me go, for the dawn has ascended.'..."

    It was a Vampire. Everyone knows that Vampires cannot be out after dark.


    Jim TX

    *wide grin*

  • tijkmo

    i remember it was applied at an assembly as jacob refusing to accept not being given a spiritual blessing...he just wouldnt give up till he got one...and that is how it should be for us brothers..

    funny i always thought that if you pushed yourself forward for something you were being presumptuous.

    ..i guess it just depends on whether you were liked or disliked in the cong...1 bro is reaching out an other is lacking humilty....one bro is waiting on j another is slacking off...1 bro is encouraging the orphans another is preying on the naive

  • Narkissos

    Actually the "vampire" is probably not so far from the original truth. Here Yhwh plays the role of a night demon threatening the life of the traveller pitching his tent in foreign territory. A role he also assumes in Exodus 4:24ff with Moses:

    On the way, at a place where they spent the night,Yhwh met him and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' feet with it, and said, "Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!" So he let him alone. It was then she said, "A bridegroom of blood by circumcision."

    Which might also remind of Psalm 91:5f:

    You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
    or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

    The nightly death of the Egyptian firstborn or the Assyrian army also comes to mind.

    The ancient gods were not always benevolent to the heroes.

    Edited to add. The other version of this story, in Hosea 12:3ff, is also interesting:

    Yhwh has an indictment against Judah,
    and will punish Jacob according to his ways,
    and repay him according to his deeds.
    In the womb he tried to supplant his brother,
    and in his manhood he strove with God.
    He strove with the angel and prevailed,
    he (who?) wept and sought his favor;
    he met him at Bethel,
    and there he spoke with him.
  • Leolaia

    There was an interesting article I read by Lemche (of the "Copenhagn" minimalist school of thought) that compared the patriarchical traditions in the prophets (including the above from Hosea) with Genesis. I wish I copied that one before I returned the book to the library so I could remember what he said....it was rather interesting, from what I recall.

  • seesthesky

    what follows comes from the following link - http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/1999-June/003494.html

    Avi Erlich observes that Harold Bloom misunderstands the story in
    Exodus 4:24-26. So, join the club of those not comprehending what the
    ancient author was up to. While Erlich and Bloom do not agree on the
    meaning of this most enigmatic drama, they do agree that amongst
    Jewish scholars there is little agreement as they contrive to make the
    unpalatable more palatable. Out of all the rabbinic scholars, sages,
    midrash composers, talmudic storytellers, there is not much consensus
    as they struggle to make this tale fit into "normative" conventional
    wisdom. If I understand Bloom correctly, all this speculating and
    theorizing would have pleased the ancient author. For, it was her
    intention to be deliberately obscure at times so as to provoke
    auditor response. This story, is one of those times, in which she
    purposely employs this technique. The ensuing much conjecturizing is
    evidence that the "great lady", Gevurah, J, has succeeded in compelling
    the reader to examine preconceived notions, and, to do some ruminating.
    Succeeded, except for Josephus and Philo, who cop out by ignoring this
    notably contentious account.

    Erlich and Bloom agree that biblical scholars miss the boat if they
    focus on the question, "What was the sin of Moses that led the
    Night-Stalker God to pursue him with homicidal intent?" This is a
    difficult passage for the revered Rashi, generally thought of as
    preferring a plain sense interpretation when appropriate. For the plain
    sense of the text is the scandal of Yahweh's unwarranted assault on His
    just chosen, called and commissioned Liberator and Lawgiver. Bloom
    thinks Rashi's observation that Yahweh was out to kill Moses because he
    was not proceeding post haste to fulfill his ordained task in Egypt, to
    be absurd. What Bloom calls "normative tradition", impatient even with
    the esteemed Rashi, came up with "the mad explanation that Moses was to
    be slain precisely because he had failed to circumcise his son". Martin
    Buber, who Bloom notes is generally, "largely free of the normative
    tradition", fumbles here, as he insists that Yahweh must have had a
    motive. For Buber, Moses had held something back; has not been
    completely obedient, and since Yahweh "claims the entirety of the one He
    has chosen", Yahweh was out to get him. But, Bloom notes that perhaps
    the greatest tribute to the awesome irony of J, was rendered by the
    midrashic legend, which converted the murderous Yahweh into Satan
    disguised as a serpent that nearly swallows up Moses before Zipporah
    performs circumcision on his son". Similarly, the LXX translators get
    Yahweh off the hook by converting Him into an "angel of the Lord".
    Although the Redactor is a villain for censoring the perceived larger
    Book of J., Bloom acknowledges his willingness to include this
    troublesome vignette, albeit not until he (R) had tampered with it to
    make it appear to be an etiological circumcision tale- "so J's own
    passage becomes instead a weird founding event for the praxis of

    For Bloom, these defensive maneuverings are unnecessary and
    inappropriate, indicative that the author's intent has been missed.
    There was, and is, scholarly resistance to J's depiction of an
    "eccentrically irascible, easily angered" god, such as she portrays so
    laconically in this stark narrative. Moses, no hero of J's, doesn't
    fare well, either. "The Moses of P, who stammers because he has
    uncircumcised lips, is a wholly different Moses from J's, who stammers
    out of dread and bewilderment, and has to be rescued from Yahweh by his
    wife through their baby son, hardly a dignified salvation for the
    prophet." Nobility is characterized in the drama by Zipporah,
    non-Israelite daughter of a pagan priest, who intuiting Yahweh's
    intent, performs the blood ritual that will appease Him, thus saving
    her husband's life.

    Avi Erlich, unhappy with J's impish, rascally God, sees the passage
    very differently. He criticizes Bloom as "a critic who takes nothing
    literally, thinks it outrageous that God would want to kill His Own
    elect, especially when Moses is even now undertaking His frightful
    mission. But most certainly we are not meant to take as narrative fact
    the fantastic statement that God met Moses at the inn and sought to
    kill him" . For Erlich, there is no need to be defensive about this
    text. Scholarly contortions to assimilate and normatize arise out of a
    basic exegetical blindness. For him, this passage is a delving into
    the psyche of Moses. It is a description of his bad dream, his nightmare
    told in hallucinatory language. "Thus when we read that "the Lord met
    him, and sought to kill him" we might wonder if God meets Moses not
    because God seeks but because the human Moses dreams. Perhaps these are
    nightmarish images fabricated by a terrified servant in the middle of
    the wilderness, in the middle of the night. In deed, the flitting
    appearance of Zipporah as she throws the foreskin at the feet of Moses,
    seems more dream-like than covenant-related, and her repeated accusation
    against the bloody husband, sounds less like the customary ritual of
    circumcision, and more like a madly repeated dream element. Magically,
    as in a dream, Zipporah's incantations dissolve the rage of God, just
    as Jacob's dream- work dissolves the grasp of the angel with whom he
    wrestles in his sleep at Penuel." Re: Zipporah, Erlich observes, "Is not
    Zipporah herself a terrifying dream figure, both a protectress and a
    knife-wielding mother who menaces both Moses and his son? Such a lurid
    magician can not be meant as an actual appeaser of the God of Abraham.
    What Hebrew reader would accept at face value the claim that this harpy
    dissuades a berserk God from squeezing Moses throat? That "God let him
    go" probably represents Moses's own dream wish that Pharaoh will indeed
    let the Hebrews go, and that Moses himself will be let go without being
    doomed as a false prophet, or a failed servant"

    What is the author up to? Providing a serious, insightful psychological
    study of the fears and apprehensions of Moses's troubled mind-his dream
    work? Or, a description of a just God's plan and activity, which
    because of its crypticness leaves us to figure out what His noble
    motive* might have been to warrant His trying to kill His servant?
    Or, do we have a tricky, nuanced, sophisticatedly subtle, non-religious,
    comic, supreme ironist, the most elliptical of all biblical authors,
    here daring to intimate an extra-ordinarily wayward, and uncanny
    literary character?

    *The most widely accepted motive in the normative tradition is that
    Moses failed to keep the commandment to circumcise his son, Gen.17:12-14

  • peacefulpete

    Solomon in Song of Solomon was depicted as so afraid of the "night demons" that he had 60 men with swords drawn at his bedside each night.

  • New Worldly Translation
    New Worldly Translation

    Laaadieees and geeeeentleman it's fight night on CBS (christian biblical sports). Tonights match up - Jacob versus The angel

    Whoa, the underdog won! Jacob now has a million dollar deal to fight Jesus

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