The Angel and Jacob Fighting: Genesis 32:25

Question

Is there anything in the Hebrew GRAMMAR that would prohibit this interpretation (#2 below) regarding who “he” refers to in Gen 32:25?

Q: Who are the first two “he”s and the “him” referring to? Is it (1) “he” [the angel] saw that “he” [the angel] had not prevailed against “him” [Jacob] – or – (2) “he” [Jacob] saw that “he” [Jacob] had not prevailed against “him” [the angel]? If possible, it would read thusly: “When he [Jacob] saw that he [Jacob] had not prevailed against him [the man], he [the man] touched the socket of his [Jacob’s] thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.”

Jacob c. 91 years old – 28:1 (c. 77) … 31:41 (20 years). Why would an angel not be able to prevail over any man, and esp. a 91 yr old man? And, why would the angel allow the man to wrestle with him “until daybreak”? IF the proposed suggestion above is allowable, it was to teach Jacob a lesson, i.e., God’s blessing could not be attained by his own strength and cunning, but through faith and dependance on God as he did in his fervent prayer (Hos 12:4).

5 months

Answers

  1. The simple reading of the verse is that the angel saw the he was not able to overcome Jacob which is why he touched Jacob’s thigh. That is the way that the Sages of the Talmud understand the context of the verse. The Sages teach that that angel was the guardian angel of Esau and it is the symbol of the Evil Inclination. They describe the confrontation between the two as being the battle between evilness and goodness and that it why they continue to fight until the “sun rises”, i.e. until their is clarity and recognition of God in this world.

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