Thru The Word Ministries

Genesis 30-32


1 - Now when Rachel saw she had not bore children to Jacob, then Rachel became jealous of her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give children to me, or else I will die!”

Our present chapter opens with Rachel giving Jacob a wake-up call…or so she thinks. It’s part and parcel of the jealousy she has as a result of her sister being able to bear children and she not. But here’s the real problem: they share not only the same lineage, but now the same husband. This thing known as bigamy has never been pleasing to the Lord and thus has never had His approval. Yet we have it here in God’s revelation of Himself for a reason. He gives us the opportunity to see the type(s) of consternation it causes. In fact it’s a wonder this doesn’t wind up being worse than it actually turns out to be. Be that as it may, where you have more than one woman per man there will be jealousy. That will eventually manifest itself in all sorts of vices that are certainly not honoring to the Lord.

2 - And the anger of Jacob burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

Jacob is telling her, “Who do you think I am…God? Don’t blame me! He’s the one responsible for the dilemma you’re in.” He thinks he’s put her in her place and that's the end of it, but let’s see where Rachel has a ‘great’ idea.

3 - Then she said, “Behold, my handmaid Bilhah! Go in to her, and she will bear upon my knees, that I will also obtain children by her.”

4 - So she gave to him Bilhah her maidservant as a wife, and Jacob went in to her.

Jacob reacts as unwittingly as Abraham when Sarah offered her handmaid to him in order for them to bear offspring. Even though God had already promised to Abraham offspring as numerous as the sand on the seashore, the woman became impatient as if God wasn’t acting fast enough. Now before we point the proverbial finger at Sarah or Rachel, we all have to deal with unfulfilled expectations at some time point or another. How do we deal with them? That’s always the question. For Rachel, in this case, she thought she had it figured out.

5 - And Bilhah conceived, and she bore to Jacob a son.

6 - Then Rachel said, “Elohim has judged me, and also has heard my voice, and gave to me a son.” Therefore she called his name ‘Dan’.

‘Dan’ is from a Hebrew word meaning “to judge” or “to vindicate.” Rachel is naming her maidservant’s son in honor of her perception that God has found no wrongdoing in her. If He had, she would not have a son at this point, or so she perceives.

7 - And Bilhah, maidservant of Rachel, conceived again, and bore to Jacob a second son.

8 - Then Rachel said, “With wrestlings enabled by Elohim, I have wrestled with my sister; moreover, I have prevailed.” And she called his name ‘Naphtali’.

‘Naphtali’ is Hebrew for “my wrestling.” Notice her use of the word “prevailed.” It appears as if she and her sister Leah are in a competition to see who can have the most/best babies. As stated at the beginning of this chapter, more than one woman per man can never lead to anything good. As the Oak Ridge Boys once sang, “Trying to love two women is like a ball and chain.”

9 - When Leah saw that she had ceased from bearing, then she took Zilpah her maidservant, and gave her to Jacob as a wife.

Leah can’t bring herself to sit inactive on the sidelines, so when she can no longer bring children into the world herself, she believes she can at least match her sister at her own game. Leah figures she has her own maidservant and decides to put her to work. Before poor Jacob knows it, he is a pawn in a chess game between the sisters, who also happen to be his wives.

10 - And Zilpah, maidservant to Leah, bore to Jacob a son.

11 - Then Leah said, “[Such] good fortune!” So she called his name ‘Gad’.

12 - And Zilpah, maidservant of Leah, bore to Jacob a second son.

13 - Then Leah said, “I [am] in [a state of] happiness, because the daughters will call me blessed.” So she called his name ‘Asher’.

The names are indicative of Leah’s direct response immediately following the birth of the respective child.

14 - Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to Leah his mother. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give to me from the mandrakes belonging to your son.”

15 - And she said to her, “[Is it] too little [a matter] you have taken my husband? Now [would you] also take the mandrakes belonging to my son?” And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight as recompense for the mandrakes of my son.”

16 - When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him, and said, “Come in to me, because I have absolutely hired you with the mandrakes of my son.” So he lay with her that night.

17 - And Elohim listened to Leah; then she conceived, and bore to Jacob a fifth son.

18 - Then Leah said, “Elohim has given [to me] my wages, because I have given my maidservant to my husband.” So she called his name ‘Issachar’.

Whether the mandrakes (“love-apples” in the Hebrew) served as an aphrodisiac or a placebo is something that may never be known, but we know there was enough merit in the idea to enable these two sisters to get into it with each other over who was going to get to sleep with him next. This is twisted, convoluted stuff. That is why when the Levitical law was written, a provision was included that forbade a man from marrying sisters (Leviticus 18:18).

19 - Then again Leah conceived, and bore a sixth son to Jacob.

20 - Then Leah said, “Elohim has bestowed upon me a good gift; finally my husband will honor me, because I have bore to him six sons.” So she called his name ‘Zebulun’.

21 - And afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name ‘Dinah’.

Guzik likens this unhealthy competition to a game of poker:

“I bid one wife, loved and beautiful.”

“I bid one wife and four sons.”

“I’ll match your one wife and raise you a concubine and the concubine’s two sons.”

“I’ll raise you another concubine and two more sons by her; plus two more sons on my own, and I’ll throw in a daughter. I’ll stand with one wife, one concubine, six sons, and one daughter.”

Nobody was the winner at this competition.1

22 - Then Elohim remembered Rachel, and Elohim listened to her, and opened her womb.

23 - And she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Elohim has taken away my disgrace.”

24 - So she called his name ‘Joseph’, saying, “Yahweh shall add to me another son.”

Let’s highlight the meaning of the name ‘Joseph’ for the sake of discussion later. This same Joseph is the one from whom the twelve tribes of Israel will eventually come. From them will come the entire nation of Israel. Hence the meaning of ‘Joseph’ - “Yahweh shall add.” Whether she knew it or not, Rachel spoke a word of prophecy at that point. She had prayed that she could bring a baby into the world. The Lord did hear her prayer, opened her womb, took away her disgrace among women, and blessed her tremendously.

25 - Now it came to be that when Rachel had bore Joseph, then Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place, and to my country.

26 - “Give [to me] my wives and my children for whom I have served you, so I may go; for you know my labor with which I have served you.”

27 - And Laban said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, [stay here with me]; I have divined that Yahweh has blessed me on account of you.”

28 - Then he said, “Decide for me your wages, and I will give [it].”

29 - But he said to him, “You know well that I have served you, and that your cattle has been with me.

30 - “For that which you had was little before I came, and it increased into a multitude; and Yahweh blessed you in keeping with me. And now, when will I work for my house also?”

31 - And he said, “What will I give to you?” And Jacob said, “You will not give to me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will return to tend to and keep your flock:

32 - “I will pass through all your flock this day, removing all the speckled and spotted of the flock, and all the dark brown ones among the lambs, and spotted and speckled among the goats; and this shall be my wages.

33 - “So my righteousness will answer for me in the day and time to come, when [the matter of] my wages comes before you. All that [are] not speckled and spotted among the goats, and dark brown among the lambs, that shall be considered stolen with me.”

34 - And Laban said, “Behold, that it would [be] according to your word.”

How interesting is this? First in this exchange between Jacob and Laban we see that Jacob is wanting to return to his country. Even though he has been living where he has for fourteen years, he still considers the land of promise to be his homeland. Second, we see that when these two get together some shrewd business deals can take place. What they’re discussing here is the difference between pure-breed and half-breed cattle, with Laban possessing the former and Jacob the latter. Laban sees dollar signs in his future, believing his cattle will fetch top dollar on the open market. What seems even more strange is that Jacob is concocting the deal. “Wow, Jacob, what a great idea you have!” is Laban’s response, and why wouldn’t it be if you think about it? I believe Jacob’s desire is to humble himself before Laban in an effort to help keep the peace among the family, all the while trusting the Lord to care and provide.

35 - So he removed that day the streaked and spotted male goats, all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one that had white in it, and all the dark brown among the lambs, and gave [them] into the hand of his sons.

36 - Then he put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob; and Jacob tended that remaining of the flock of Laban.

To insure there would be no mixing of the flocks, Jacob separates his flock from Laban’s by a three-day period of time. This way he figures he can keep possible accusations to a minimum. Does this mean Jacob has a plan? You’d better believe it!

37 - Now Jacob took for himself a fresh rod of a poplar tree, and of the almond tree and the plane tree; and he peeled white streaks in them, and lay bare the white that [was] in the rods.

38 - Then he placed the rods that he had peeled in the drinking troughs and the gutters when the flock came to drink, that they would conceive when the flock came to drink.

39 - So the flock conceived in front of the rods, and the flock bore streaked, speckled, and spotted.

The question so many ask at this juncture has to do mainly with whether or not this was real or perceived. Did the white streaks in the rods encourage mating between these half- and full-breeds? Did the white streaks serve as an aphrodisiac, as other Old Testament scholars believe? Or did the streaked rods serve more of a visual purpose in that what the male and female saw while breeding determined how their offspring would appear? These questions and probably a lot of others have all been asked by far greater minds than mine. As far as I know, we will never have a clear-cut answer at least this side of heaven. However we do know that God used this to bless Jacob in a great way. This cements, in my mind at least, Jacob’s trust in the Lord when he cut the deal with Laban as stated a few verses prior.

40 - And Jacob segregated the lambs, and set the faces of the flock toward the streaked, and all the dark brown of Laban, but he set apart his own flocks, and did not put them with the flock of Laban.

41 - And it came to be, when all the stronger of the flock [were] in heat, that Jacob put the rods before the eyes of the flock in the drinking trough, for the purpose of conceiving among the rods.

42 - When the flock [was] sickly, he did not put [them in]; so the sickly were belonging to Laban, and the stronger [were] belonging to Jacob.

43 - So the man’s wealth increased greatly, and had a great flock, and maidservants, and slaves, and camels, and donkeys.

It got even better for Jacob as the Lord blessed him with the discernment to know how to breed these flocks and under what conditions. Even though this is the Lord‘s blessing, we find it doesn’t go over well with others. This should be a consideration for each of us as we seek the Lord’s blessing on our own lives. We desire His approval, but many times we cannot please Him and man as well. The suspense mounts and the consequences unfold before our eyes in the next chapter.


1 - And he heard the words of the sons of Laban, saying, “Jacob has taken all that belonged to our father, and from that [which] belonged to our father, he has acquired all this abundance.”

Laban’s sons have shown themselves to be unhappy campers by this time and are ready to run out Jacob and his entire family/entourage. They are in large part accusing Jacob of being a thief, saying he ‘stole’ all their father’s possessions.

2 - And Jacob saw the face of Laban, and behold, [his favor] was not present with him as in time past.

They probably learned this information from their father, who probably didn‘t have a problem sharing his opinion concerning Jacob. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the old maxim goes, and when the head of household becomes disgruntled, the children are probably not far behind. But the Lord is looking out for Jacob in order to make sure he is not a man without a country … literally!

3 - And Yahweh said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and your kindred, and I will be with you.”

In the same way, as the Lord Jesus Christ calls us back once we have moved away from Him, He gives us the promise of His presence by way of His indwelling Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The promise of His presence is everything once we allow Him to minister that truth to our hearts. Once our heart is realigned with His, He will be with us, guiding all the way.

Now Jacob embarks on a very important monologue with his wives concerning the recent conduct of their father.

4 - So Jacob sent and called for Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field,

5 - And said to them, “I [am] seeing the countenance of your father, that it [is] not toward me as in times past; but the God of my father has been with me.

6 - “And both of you know well that with all my strength I have served your father.

7 - “But your father has deceived me, and has changed my wages ten times; yet Elohim did not allow him to touch you.

8 - “If he thus said, ‘The speckled will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if he thus said, ‘The streaked will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore streaked.

9 - “Thus Elohim withdrew the cattle of your forefathers and gave [them] to me.

10 - “And it came to be at the time the flock conceived, that I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats mating with the flock [were] streaked, and speckled, and spotted.

11 - “Then the angel of Elohim said to me in a dream, ‘Jacob’; and I said, ‘Here I am.’

12 - “And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes now and see [that] all the male goats mating with the cattle [are] streaked, speckled, and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.

13 - “I [am] the God of Bethel, where you have anointed the pillar, where you have made to Me a vow. Now arise, go out from this land and return to your ancestors.’”

This is actually a very well thought out speech that Jacob has given to his wives, but he actually didn’t have to do much of a selling job on them. He went through everything with them, including what and in what way the Lord spoke to him concerning this matter. In spite of that, there was only one thing they wanted to know…

14 - Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Do we still have a portion or inheritance in the house of our father?

15 - “Are we not thought of as foreigners by him? For he has sold us, and absolutely devoured all our money also.

16 - “For all the money that Elohim has taken from our forefathers, that belongs to us and to our descendants. And now, all that Elohim has said for you to observe, do [it].”

Leah and Rachel were all about the money! True, their father had “devoured” their portion/inheritance and treated them as something other than his offspring. The sisters more than anything desired to have what they thought was coming to them. And who of us can blame them? The result: Jacob had their blessing in this endeavor. They were ready to move on.

17 - Then Jacob arose and placed his sons and his wives upon camels;

18 - And he drove away all his livestock and all his property that he had acquired, his acquired livestock that he had acquired in Padan-aram, to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.

There is more to this than meets the eye because they were working by stealth in order to get out of there. Jacob will explain this later, but he didn’t want to take the chance of being forced into staying against their will. If you think about it, this was quite the undertaking considering Jacob had acquired so much. This resulted in his needing someone to help manage it all. The biblical record doesn’t share with us specific numbers, but the last verse of the previous chapter gives us an indication that it was more than just a few people could manage.

19 - When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the graven images that belonged to her father.

Whether she realizes it or not, Rachel is very possibly putting her husband in harm’s way with this maneuver. But there’s a larger issue here also. You see she was able to steal her father’s idols because her father owned idols. Yes, he worshiped and bowed to them. He had a nodding acquaintance with God at best. He is one of many down through the ages that knew a thing or two about God, but never knew Him; never became acquainted with His character or attributes. This is the exact reason why Thru the Word Ministries takes the time and expense to go through the Word of God. This is the only way we will ever truly know Him. We get the real picture of Him because the Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself. How do you distinguish the true from the false in the world around us? Spend time in His Word!

20 - And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramaean, because he did not tell him that he was fleeing.

The deceiver is still at it, further cementing his reputation with Laban as being untrustworthy. This will come back to haunt him during the next dialogue with his father-in-law.

21 - So he fled with all that belonged to him; and he arose and passed over the river, and he set his sights on the hill-country of Gilead.

Jacob had some tough traveling ahead of him. Not only was it some 300 miles to his destination, but great peril lay ahead of him. True, he had God’s assurance but also be assured that he was trading the safety and comfort he had known for the peril of the unknown. This can be very difficult for anyone venturing into unknown territory. If anyone is reading this that is seeking the Lord’s will concerning leaving where they are and moving out of their comfort zone, as it were, please be sure you have His assurance before you do or else you will be in for the fight of your life before it’s over. Yes the Lord wants to use you, but believe me when I tell you the devil would just as soon use your situation to tear you to shreds spiritually speaking. And Satan will do just that unless you have that moment to fall back on where God called you to that specific work.

22 - When it was told on the third day that Jacob had fled,

23 - Then he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and he overtook him in the hill-country of Gilead.

24 - But Elohim came to Laban the Aramaean in a dream in the night, and said to him, “See to it that you not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”

It seems rather obvious Laban had it in for Jacob to pursue him for an entire week. There’s a great thing that God is doing on Jacob’s behalf, however, speaking to Laban in a dream about how he is not to treat his son-in-law.

25 - So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob pitched his tent in the hill-country; and Laban with his brethren pitched his tent in the hill-country of Gilead.

26 - And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you deceived [me] without my knowledge, and lead away my daughters, as if they had been taken captive with the sword?

27 - “Why did you flee in secret and steal things from me, and did not tell me, so I might send you away with joy, and with song, and with a lyre and a tambourine?

28 - “Plus you did not give me the opportunity to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in doing [so].

29 - “It is in the power of my hand to do evil unto you; but the God of your forefathers spoke to me last night, saying, ‘See to it that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.’

30 - “And now, you have gone away for good, because you have surely longed for the dwelling-place of your forefathers. [So] why did you steal my gods?”

Laban comes on very intense at first. After all, he has been building up steam for seven days. He has had a week of travel time to think about how Jacob has done him wrong and how he is going to get back at him once he catches up to him. But notice how he communicates it to Jacob. He tells him, “Hey! I was going to throw a going-away party for you and the family and you ran out on me. I could really lay into you good, but I’m going to cut you some slack this time…thanks to your God.” Laban lets Jacob know he’s doing him a big favor by not bringing physical harm on him. Then he proceeds to inflict mental and emotional harm on him by Jacob accusing him of stealing his gods before he and his entire family!

31 - Then Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I had said, ‘Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force.’

32 - “With whoever you find your gods, do not let him live! In the sight of our brethren, make known to me what belongs to you and take [it] with you.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

The Hebrew word for “gods” is teraphim. Jacob gets carried away with himself and in effect places a curse on the wife he loves the most.

33 - And Laban went into the tent of Jacob, and the tent of Leah, and the tent of the two handmaids, but he did not find [them]. Then he went out from the tent of Leah, and went into the tent of Rachel.

34 - Now Rachel had taken the graven images, and put them in the saddlebag of the camel, and she sat on them. And Laban searched all of the tent, but did not find [them].

35 - And she said to her father, “Let not the wrath of my lord be kindled before me because I am not able to arise before you, because the manner of women [is] upon me.” So he searched [carefully], but did not find the graven images.

Several commentators have weighed in on the matter of why Rachel had stolen the teraphim. Some believe she thought they were rightfully hers as part of her inheritance and this was her way of getting back at her father. Others say she got them out of his house in an attempt to encourage her father to rely on the one true God. Still others would say that Rachel was actually an idols worshiper herself and that she used these particular idols in the practice thereof.

Rachel may have fabricated the truth in stating that she was in her period and therefore could not remove herself from the saddle bag so Laban could look inside. On the other hand it may actually have been a legitimate reason, but out of the two men there at the time only Jacob would have known for certain.

36 - Then Jacob became angry and quarreled with Laban; and Jacob answered and said to Laban, “What [is] my transgression? What [is] my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me?

37 - “Though you have carefully searched all my vessels, what have you found from all the vessels of your house? Set [it] here before my brethren and your brethren, so they may decide between we two.

38 - “These twenty years, I [have been] with you; your ewes and your female goats have not been childless, and the rams of your flock I have not eaten.

39 - “I did not bring animals torn by wild beasts to you; I bore the loss of it. You sought it from my hand, [whether] being stolen by day, or being stolen by night.

40 - “[So] was I; in the day, the heat consumed me, and frost in the night; and the sleep fled from my eyes.

41 - “These twenty years I have belonged to your house. I have served fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years among your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.

42 - “Unless the God of my father, Elohe of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely [by] now you would have sent me away in poverty. Now Elohim has seen the toil of my hands and mediated [judgment] last night.”

Apparently Jacob had some things on his mind over time as well. Laban may have had seven days to think about things, but Jacob had had twenty years! While Jacob was letting him have it with both barrels, so to speak, his wives had to have been cheering him on … to themselves, of course.

You’ll notice the last sentence of verse 42, where Jacob emphasizes what Laban only touched on earlier - that it was God who “mediated judgment last night” as to how he was to be treated by his father-in-law.

43 - And Laban answered and said to Jacob, “[These] daughters [are] my daughters, and the children [are] my children, and the flock [is] my flock, and everything that you are seeing [is] mine. But what can I do today to these my daughters, or to their children that they have born?

44 - “So now come, let us make a covenant, I and you; and have it become the witness between me and you.”

How pathetic is this?! He tells Jacob he would have no wives, children, or flocks were it not for him. It’s as if he knows he no longer has the upper hand, but is still trying to posture himself in his mind and Jacob’s, if possible, that he is still in control. Determined to show his disdain and mistrust for Jacob, he proposes a tangible covenant be made between them.

45 - So Jacob took a stone and raised it for a pillar.

46 - Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” So they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there upon the heap.

47 - And Laban called it ‘Jegar-sahadutha’, but Jacob called it ‘Galeed’.

48 - And Laban said, “This heap [is] a witness between me and you this day.” So the name of it was called ‘Galeed’,

49 - And Mizpah, because he said, “[May] Yahweh keep watch between me and you, when we are absent from each other.

50 - “If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives other than my daughters - no man [is] with us; see, Elohim [is] witness between me and you.”

This brings us to a mention of what is known as the “Mizpah benediction.” This is a song that was written with the sentiment that as you and I part company from the corporate worship setting, may the Lord watch over, protect, and keep us. It’s a sweet sentiment…and very non-contextual. The sentiment in this exchange is one of suspicion. In other words, Laban is saying to Jacob, “If you bring harm to anything belonging to me, may God kill you on the spot.”

51 - And Laban said to Jacob, “Behold, this heap, and behold the pillar that I have set up between me and you.

52 - “This heap [is] a witness, and the pillar a testimony; I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me for evil.

53 - “The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their forefathers, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.

54 - Then Jacob slaughtered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called for his brethren to eat bread; and they ate the bread and lodged on the mountain.

55 - And Laban rose early in the morning, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and he blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

Neither of them will transgress the boundary they have made and named. This is the tangibility of the covenant made between them. I fail to see where Jacob felt threatened for a moment by this performance from Laban. If I were Jacob I couldn’t get away from a bully like this fast enough. And then I’d stay away!

You might say there’s been a little too much family closeness over the last twenty years. We know these two men have apparently separated for good. We see no mention of Laban in the Scriptures going forward, but we see Jacob mentioned - greatly so. What difference does that make? The classic commentary from Dr. Morris says it best.

Laban is an unfortunate example of a worldly, covetous man, one who knows about the true God and to whom a thorough witness has been given. He had seen the reality of God in the life of Jacob, along with the power of God in His blessing and protection of Jacob. He himself had even enjoyed many of the blessings of God through his relationship to Jacob. Nevertheless, he continued in idolatry and covetousness, seeking material gain for himself to the exclusion of all other considerations. Rather than seeking to follow the truth of God’s plan as witnessed by Jacob, he merely resented and coveted the blessing of God on Jacob. He finally ended up with neither. His life constitutes a sober warning to a great host of semi-religious but fundamentally self-worshiping and self-seeking men and women today.2


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

2 - Then Jacob, when he had seen them, said, “This [is] an encampment of Elohim.” So he called the name of that place ‘Mahanaim’.

You have to admit it took a lot of courage for Jacob to set out like this following twenty years of security and provision under Laban’s roof. Especially when you consider he is about to enter into perceptually hostile territory. But we see that he doesn’t go it alone. The angels of God are going with him.

3 - Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the territory of Edom.

4 - And he commanded them saying, “Here [is what] you will say to my lord Esau. ‘Here [is what] my servant Jacob has said: With Laban I have sojourned, and have stayed until now,

5 - “And I have cattle, and donkeys, sheep, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order to find grace in your eyes.’”

Think of this not as a bribe, but as a gesture of goodwill. You see, Jacob was still under the impression that Esau wanted to kill him. Esau made a rather lasting impression on him when he was overheard by their mom to say that he was going to kill brother Jacob after their father had passed from the scene. So here we have Jacob pulling out all the stops, as it were, to inform his brother that he comes in peace. He refers to himself as Esau’s servant and he is his “lord.” Plus he is ready to shower him with gifts without measure. Having accumulated such gifts over a period of twenty years, this is likely a small price for him to pay in order to obtain Esau’s favor.

6 - Then the messengers returned to Jacob saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is also coming to meet you, and four hundred men [along] with him.”

7 - Then Jacob [was] very fearful and anxious, so he divided the people that [were] with him, and the sheep, and the flock, and the camels into two camps,

8 - And said, “If Esau comes to the one camp and strikes it, then the other camp that is left shall escape.”

Anyone coming in a company containing four hundred men is bound to scare the daylights out of anyone who has had their life threatened by them. Jacob is under the assumption here that Esau plus four hundred men coming toward him equals disaster and death for him and possibly his family. What would you do in such a situation? More than likely the same thing Jacob does in the next four verses.

9 - Then Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, Yahweh, who is saying to me, ‘Return to your land and to your kindred, and I will do good to you’;

10 - “I am too insignificant for your loving-kindness and all your faithfulness that you have shown to your servant. For with my rod I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.

11 - “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, because I fear him, lest he may come and smite me, [and] the mother of children.

12 - “For You did say, ‘I will deal very well with you, and will make your offspring as the sand on the sea that cannot be counted for multitude.’”

No doubt Jacob was caught up in the moment as would be any of us. But we have to be honest, don’t we, and say that he was honest before God and himself. I’m not into critiquing prayers or giving them a grade or rating, but I’d have to say this is a really good prayer on Jacob’s part. First because he is acknowledges not only that God has spoken to him, but what He has said. He’s saying, “God I’m doing this because of Your word to me that I would benefit from doing so.”

Second he humbles himself before his Lord and God. He realizes his unworthiness in regard to all the blessings he has received of God over the last twenty years. Part of the humbling process includes his acknowledgment that he is too weak to be able to withstand Esau and his company. Therefore he asks the Lord to “deliver” him from the supposed onslaught forthcoming.

Third he prays God’s Word back to Him. If you’re concerned and conscientious about having an effective prayer life, there’s a great place to start. To pray God’s Word back to him, however, one must first have knowledge of it. This should prompt each of us to spend time in the Word of God each and every day. This is the only way any of us will ever have knowledge of who He is and how each of us should pray to Him each day. Once you and I learn His promises, claim His promises, and stand on His promises, we will each be better Christians and His church will be strengthened in this world because we will have given the Lord the opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf. It takes persistence on our part, but the reward is there because…

…without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Hebrews 11:6

13 - So he lodged there that night, and he took what came to his hand for a gift to Esau his brother;

14 - Two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,

15 - Thirty nursing camels and their offspring, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys.

16 - And he gave them into the hand of his slaves, each herd separated from the other, and said to his slaves, “Pass over before me, and put space between [one] herd and [the next] herd.”

17 - And he commanded the first one, saying, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where [are] you going, and to whom do these belong in front of you?’

18 - “Then you shall say, ‘To your servant Jacob; a gift being sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he [is] also behind us.’”

19 - And so he commanded the second, and the third, and all that were going after the herds, saying, “In this way you will speak to Esau when you find him,

20 - “And you shall also say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he has said, “I will appease him with the gift going before me, then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will receive me favorably.”

All these gifts are what he hopes and supposes will appease Esau. To emphasize, there are a lot of assumptions being made by Jacob at this time. Foremost among those being that his brother was trying to kill him. We can be presumptuous at this point in the narrative and say that Jacob wasn’t exercising faith in doing so, but I don’t know of any of us that wouldn’t exhibit the same ingenuity in such a situation. Does it mean we are displaying a lack of faith? Possibly, but if any of us had half the possessions Jacob did, I say each of us would have done nothing different. I don’t know about you, but if Jacob can be rightly criticized for lacking faith and not believing God for His protection, that gives hope to me seeming as to how Jacob is as highly revered in the Scriptures as he is. I know this because I know how lacking my own faith can be when the pressure is on. But all the while the Lord is teaching us in the School of Faith that He can be trusted. The question is, are we willing to give Him the opportunity to be trusted?

21 - So the gift passed over before him, but he himself remained that night in the camp.

22 - And he arose that night, and took his two wives, and his two maidservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabok.

23 - And he took them, and allowed them to cross over the stream, and allowed to cross over that [which] belonged to him.

24 - Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him up until the dawn.

The fact that Jacob was alone is significant in that he is no longer preoccupied with things, stuff, and details that need to be worked through. That’s why each of us need to have an alone time with the Lord. For that is exactly what Jacob is having right here. He is having a personal encounter with the pre-incarnate Christ. When those life situations cannot be thought through or worked out clearly, when nothing seems to make sense, those are the very occasions in which each of us are prone to wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We see it as frustrating, but He sees it as rewarding for us because He loves to reward each of us when we prevail in prayer.

25 - So when he saw he could not stand up to Him, then He struck the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of his thigh was dislocated as Jacob was wrestling with Him.

26 - And He said, “Let Me go, for the dawn is approaching.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless You have blessed me.”

Look at Jacob! He’s still prevailing; continuing to seek the Lord’s blessing and favor.

27 - So He said to him, “What [is] your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”

Here the Lord forces Jacob to come to grips with who he really is. He responds, “I admit it…I am ‘deceiver’.” Wrestling with the Lord in prayer will cause us to come to grips with who we really are as He sees us.

28 - And He said, “Your name will no longer be called ‘Jacob’, but ‘Israel’, for you have persisted with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Now that Jacob has come clean before God, He is ready to give him a new name. He will no longer be viewed by the Lord as ‘deceiver’, but now as “God rules,” or very possibly “ruled by God.”

29 - Then Jacob asked and said, “Please tell your name.” And He said, “What [is] this that you ask for My name?” And He blessed him there.

Possibly Jacob thinks he can even the score psychologically if he has knowledge of the Man’s name. He simply responds, “Why do you even ask? You already know My name. You’ve been prevailing in prayer with Me. Remember?” Because he prevailed, he got the blessing of the Lord. And so do each of us when we do.

30 - So Jacob called the name of the place ‘Peniel’; “For I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life has been saved.”

‘Peniel’ means “face of God,” for Jacob not only saw His face, but wrestled with Him, literally, all night long. Not only did he not lose his life, but he prevailed; he triumphed as a result. Jacob himself says at that moment he had been “saved.” Following his salvation experience his life was preserved and was given a new name by the Lord Himself. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ wants to do in each and every life. This is why this ministry and others like it emphasize that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When each of us see Him face to face, we have to see ourselves as we really are, not how we want to see us. We want to think the best of ourselves, but God knows us far better for He knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7, Mark 7:20-23). When each of us come to the end of ourselves, then as with Jacob, He waits to bless us.

31 - And the sun rose upon him as he had passed over to Penuel, and he was limping upon his thigh.

32 - Therefore the descendants of Israel do not eat the tendon of the sciatic nerve which is on the hollow of the thigh up to this day, because He touched the hollow of the thigh of Jacob in the tendon of the sciatic nerve.

Thus the limp that appears to be tragic or sorrowful is the same limp that will remind him of his wrestling match with God Himself for the rest of his life. He suffered in pain with every step he took. So it is with us when we seem to limp along through life wondering if things will ever be the same again. If our walk is with and our dependence is on the Lord, things will never be the same again…ever! Is that a bad thing? Hardly. You see, our dependence on Him is what living for Him is all about. If it were all about our wit and wisdom, our intelligence and ingenuity, we would go right on depending on ourselves day to day. That was Jacob’s problem, friend. He needed to be broken of his self-reliance and self-will. So do each of us. We, like Jacob, need to be a broken people in order to realize we must rely on the Lord all of our days. And we, like Jacob, can do so, but only with the realization that the key to doing so is through this thing we call prevailing prayer



2Morris, The Genesis Record, 492.