Once alone, Jacob "... wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day" (Genesis 32:24). I have read several reviews of this story, with a few claiming it may not have been physical as such, and might've been a vision Jacob had. I would stick with the simplistic here, and not rush to raise the symbolism flag that have been so frequently used to describe certain events recorded in the bible. Apparently, neither Jacob nor the man he wrestled with (the cause of which we are not told, either it was following a dispute or a sport) was gaining an upper hand by dawn, necessitating the latter to shifting the goal post, when he "... touched the hollow of his (Jacob's) thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him" (v. 25). Having caused Jacob to relent, He pleaded with him to let Him go, but Jacob insisted that he would only do so, if He "blesses him". It would appear that along the line, Jacob discovered that the man he wrestled with, was no mere man, and sought to exploit the situation to his advantage, by extracting a blessing from him. In response, the man said, "What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with Elohim and with men, and have prevailed" (v. 27-28). That was how a Jacob whose name was synonymous with supplanting, with cunning, and had lived up to the reputation of his name till some moments before this encounter, had his name changed to the "Prince who contended with men, and gods (spirit beings) and came off victorious". To show you how critical nay important names can be, not just spiritually, but physically, the rest of the life of Jacob, from that point, to the point where he died, and by extension his children, Israel lived a life which his name justified. Not only do we have the bible to read about the myriad of instances where this came to be true, there's also history; Hebrew, Israelite, Jewish and Israeli history, times and places till date, to see the manifestations and implications of the "blessings", necessitated by this change in his name. Sometimes, when many of us seek blessings, we limit the scope of what we want before YAHWEH by asking specifically for "perishables". Interestingly, time and again, when we encounter in the bible, situations where YAHWEH of his own volition blesses his people, or people steeped in the deep, blessed their wards (like Isaac did with Jacob, in declaring that the "[nauseating] smell of his son, is as the smell of a field which YAHWEH has blessed" {Genesis 27:27}), they focused on the esoteric, the immaterial yet more significant, which above all seeks to ensure the perpetuation of the subject even to eternity, and while at it, with the most that life can offer, and not just wealth, riches, good health, children, and the likes of pedestrian requests, that we often pray for today, which is at the root of most spiritual and/or religious prostitution, that's prevalent today, as people search nooks and crannies in pursuit of happiness. Seeing as names became the subject, after wrestling, Jacob also sought to know the name of the person he'd nearly bested, but his opponent was not forthcoming in that respect, rather we are told that He "... blessed him (Jacob) there. And Jacob called the name of the place Penuel: for, said he, I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life is preserved" ( Genesis 32 verses 29-30). Jacob was at that point not anymore in doubt that he'd engaged in combat with his creator possibly, and must've been fortunate to come out of the duel alive, though there was the matter of the touch of his "tendon" by his contender and the resulting consequence. It is my belief, that Jacob didn't initially consider the man he fought with, anything more than a man, because then, rather than engage him in a fight, he'd have rather paid homage like he did at the place he called Mahanaim, that I'd earlier touched on. It must've been the realization of this that led to the request he made for a blessing, and subsequently informing his naming of the place of the encounter Penuel. As a result of this engagement though, as "... the sun rose upon him as he passed over Penuel, and he limped upon his thigh" (v. 31), such that even if he discountenanced what happened, and it probably looked like a vision, the limp would remind him of the reality of the skirmish, is what I think in my estimation. I have heard tales of people who'd had weird dreams and visions, only to wake up with souvenir, or memorabilia, including marks on their bodies to suggest that there was some physical element to the spiritual that was the dream or vision they might have had. As a boy, marks on my body, following "sleep paralysis" was interpreted by my parents and siblings as "enemy action", "activities of witches and wizards", and even in my early adult years, I'd woken up to rebuke the devil, and then finding it difficult to go back to sleep afterwards. Because of what happened with Jacob, and the resultant limping, "the children of Israel (in deference to their ancestor) eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because He touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip" (v. 32). Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, describes the "sinew which shrank" as the tendon or ligament that fastens the thigh bone to its socket, and that though the Jewish practice of abstaining from eating this in the flesh of animals isn't found in the law of Moses (hence Messianic Jews aren't mandated or compelled to comply), it is merely a traditional usage. This practice amongst Jews is such that if no person is found skilled enough to carefully extract the sinew, the hind legs of the animal slaughtered are not used at all for food. Now, you know how Israel came by his name, a "fateful" one at that, on his way to meet his brother, to whom he was a Jacob, with all that that connoted, in his past. As it was (and still is) with Jews, Israelites or Israelis as the case may be, so it is with traditional societies the world over, where it is thought that names play significant roles in the life of the bearer, hence Care is taken in giving and taking names. Unfortunately, in Africa many believers have had to shed their very meaningful African names (sometimes after baptism or at the naming ceremony of their children at or sometime after birth, to bible believing parents, Messianic Jews or Christians), for so called biblical or Christianized names, even when they aren't, and are devoid of scriptural and spiritual meaning. Spiritually minded people shouldn't underestimate the importance of names, and should go beyond merely naming their children according to their flimsy heart desires (or simply for the material success that they expect in the lives of their children), to more enduring names, that can even encourage and inspire them in times of despair, regardless of the language, like we have seen with Jacob, to Israel for instance. 'kovich REFERENCE: – Genesis Chapter 32 Verses 24 – 32, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993). PICTURE CREDIT: - www.pinterest.com/RobertCrumb BIBLE STORIES (44): ISRAEL https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/bible-stories-44-israel/

Published by m'khail madukovich