Did Jacob wrestle with God, Jesus, or an angel?

Did Jacob have a cosmic wrestling match with God?

By Ibn anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

So He said to him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Jacob.”

And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”

And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

(Genesis 32:24-30; NKJV)

To the Trinitarian Christian, the above excerpt from Genesis 32 is proof that Jacob met Jesus and struggled with him in a wrestling match. At a glance, it does seem to be the case that Jacob was truly and physically caught in a wrestling match with God, but upon further inspection many questions arise that would put doubt in the Christian Trinitarian interpretation and finally show that other alternative interpretations that do exist have a stronger case against the Trinitarian view.

The most obvious problem with the Trinitarian view that posits Jesus as Jacob’s wrestling opponent is that Jesus Christ is nowhere mentioned in the passage. In fact, we know for a fact that Jesus is not mentioned anywhere in the entire Old Testament. Of course, there are “prophecies” that supposedly point to the arrival of a messiah that may seem to fit Jesus, the Son of Mary as depicted in the New Testament, but those have little to do with the passage above and even in those “prophecies”, there are various views that suggest different interpretations than the one commonly forwarded by Trinitarians in their excitement to prove the messiahship of Jesus from the Old Testament. Be that as it may, we may all concur that Jesus is nowhere to be found in the passage. A second obstacle that the Trinitarian has to traverse is the fact that the verse clearly identifies the assailant as “a man.” The verse says, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (v. 24) The Trinitarian’s lenses tend to focus on verses 28 and 30, but they conveniently forget or ignore verse 24 that when considered, immediately weakens their Jesus interpretation.The verse in the Hebrew is rather clear:
ויותר יעקב לבדו ויאבק איש עמו עד עלות השחר

The key word here is איש (aleph yod shin) which is synonymous to ‘Adam meaning ‘man.’ To understand the struggle as being between Jacob and a man makes the story more sensible than one where Jacob struggles with God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and thereafter overpowers Him and comes to equal bargaining terms with Him.

Further more, standard Christian theology dictates that the Word, the second person of the Trinity came into the world in a unique event called the incarnation (John 1). Being a unique event, it could only have taken place once in history; therefore, the flesh and blood man that wrestled with Jacob could not have been another incarnation of Jesus before 2000 years ago. Trinitarian theologian Roger Haight writes:
“…there can be only one incarnation of the Logos. The incarnation of the Son in Jesus could happen only once, and it is thus the absolute fulfillment of God’s saving will toward which all other experiences of grace in history are oriented as to their climactic realization.” [1]

So, unless Trinitarians are going to tell us now that Jesus incarnated again and again throughout history then they need to reassess their view that Jacob actually wrestled with Jesus in Genesis 32. In fact, the Catholics would be at a loss if they argue that Genesis 32 has the incarnated Jesus because that will undermine the ‘mater dei’ concept that is so fundamental to their belief, i.e., Jesus received his humanity from his mother, thus making her the “Mother of God.”

At this juncture, the Trinitarian may drop the proposition that it was Jesus who struggled with Jacob, but will continue to insist that Jacob did indeed wrestle with God Almighty. They point to the fact that Jacob said, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Gen. 32:30) It is common knowledge for those who know scripture that one’s life is forfeited upon seeing the face of God. This understanding comes from a clear and vivid reading of, “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) Here, God clearly tells Moses that the moment that a person sees the face of God, he shall perish. So, the Trinitarian argument is that since Jacob’s “life was preserved despite seeing the face of God”, he must truly have beheld God’s countenance. Never mind the fact that granting the Trinitarian interpretation creates a clear contradiction between Exodus 33 and Genesis 32, the scriptures elsewhere seem adamant in the theological belief that seeing God’s face will result in one’s destruction and that it is an impossibility:

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18)

“(God) who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:16)

To avoid creating a contradiction between these verses, one must consider an alternative interpretation than the meaning that is conveyed by the Genesis 32:30’s facade.

In the story, Jacob is interested to know the assailant’s name and in reply he receives this response, “And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” (v. 29) If one were to open up Bible commentaries, one may find that this verse is cross references to Judges 13:18. Cross referencing is when an interpreter thinks that the verses are related to each other. So, in Judges 13:18, we see Manoah, Samson’s father, asking the angel for his name and the angel gives a similar response to that given by the individual in Genesis 32:29,” The angel of the LORD answered him, “Why are you asking this about my name? It’s ‘Wonderful.'” It is possible then to interpret Genesis 32 as featuring the same being as the one in Judges 13,i.e., that he is in fact the angel of God. Commenting on Genesis 32, Victor Hamilton writes:
“The man’s question is: “Why is it that you inquire about my name? It is a question which Jacob is not given the opportunity to respond, or perhaps he chooses not to respond. The scene is much like the one between the angel of Yahweh and Samson’s father Manoah: “And Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, ‘What is your name, so that… we may honor you?’ And the angel of Yahweh said to him, ‘Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?'” (Judg. 13:17-18). Both the man (Gen. 32) and the angel (Judg. 13) ask the same question: lamma zeh tis’al lishmi.” [2]

The clever Christian might ask, “Just now you said that it was a man, flesh and blood, that wrestled with Jacob and now you’re saying it was an angel. Was it a man or an angel? Aren’t you contradicting yourself too?” Well, it is only a contradiction if you think that angels cannot appear as men or that their appearance as a man is restricted to only one particular instance as is Jesus’ in his incarnation according to standard Trinitarian theology that we have delineated above. But according to the scriptures, angels do appear as men and this happens many times (e.g., In Genesis 18, angels appeared as men and stayed with Abraham; Genesis 19 has two angels appearing as men and stayed with Lot; See John Kitto in A Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, p. 149, “…angels always appeared in the human form…”).

It is indeed an impossibility to perceive God’s face according to what we have discussed above and perhaps none other is more emphatic on this point than the Trinitarian theologian R. R. Reno who writes, “To shift from “struggled” to “seen” as the fundamental root in Jacob’s new name can seem wildly divergent, but a closer look shows otherwise. It is a biblical truism that one cannot see God and live, so much that Job views his encounter with God in the whirlwind as an overwhelming, unaccountable honor (Job 42:1-6). A lasting vision of God is not a worldly possibility; it is reserved for the age to come, when the creature is purified of all defect and can enter into fellowship with God in all his holiness. St. Paul’s famous dictum depends upon this eschatological limit:”For now we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12 AV). Thus, the church fathers read the name “Israel” as “he who has seen God,” because they took the name to give precision to the blessing already promised to Abraham.” [3]

And so in Reno’s view, the name “Israel”* which replaces “Jacob” is understood to mean “he who has seen God” because it encapsulates the blessing that God had given Abraham that is now also given to Jacob. The “seeing of God’s face” then is interpreted not in the literal sense but in the sense that God’s promise comes to fulfillment. The “seeing of God’s face” is a metaphor for “seeing the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham.”
And right in the next chapter, we find a clear example where Jacob utilises the exact same Hebraism or phraseology which in this instance shows that it may not necessarily mean a literal perception of God’s appearance:
“And Jacob said,”No, please, if I have now found favour in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.” (Genesis 33:10)
In the above verse, Jacob equates seeing his brother, Esau’s face, as seeing the “face of God”. Unless the Christian Trinitarian is going to deify Esau and make him part of the Trinity, they have to strongly reconsider their literal interpretation of the phrase in question.
Finally, we know that the wrestling match was between Jacob and a man (an angel) and not God, the Creator, because Hosea gives us the definitive interpretation of the assailant’s identity:
“Jacob struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and sought His favor. He found him at Bethel, and there He spoke with him. ” (Hosea 12:4, HCSB)
I chose to use the rendering by Holman Christian Standard Bible because it identifies the pronoun as Jacob which diminishes any doubts that may arise concerning which incident the verse is referring to. The verse is evidently speaking of Jacob’s wrestling incident as narrated in Genesis 32 and the identity of the opponent is clearly revealed as that of an angel. But how can an angel be referred to as “God” comes the next Christian question. Biblically, we know for a fact that there are many instances where angels are described as “elohim” which is the Hebrew word for “God”.
“The word elohim points to the discussion of angels proper, commencing in II:6 by the explication of the propriety of the term elohim as the biblical designation for angels. Since elohim can refer to “judges,” it is an apt characterization of both God and the angels in the sense that they both govern that which lies below them.” [4]
“The writer seizes on the fact that the word for “God” (‘elohim) can also be used for angels. When, therefore, he finds the word in a place such as Ps 32:1, he is able to explain the passage as referring not to God himself but to the angel Melchizedek.” [5]
“In Jub 4:21 (‘He was, moreover, with God’s angels’) the author of Jubilees understands the Elohim אלהים of Gen 5:22, 24 (‘Enoch walked with God’) as a reference to his stay with angels. Also in Jub 2:2, he shows that he understands Elohim (of Gen 1:2) as meaning ‘angels’.” [6]
“It is disputed whether the term Elohim אלהים is ever applied to angels, but the inquiry belongs to aother place [ELOHIM]. It may suffice here to observe that both in Ps. viii. 5, and xcvii. 7, the word is rendered by angels in the Septuagint and other ancient versions;” [7]
In the reference above, John Kitto suggests that there are disputes among scholars whether “elohim” may refer to angels, but he then provides clear biblical evidences in the Septuagint that show that the word “elohim” is understood as angels too in certain instances.

“The word Elohim also refers to the Angels of the Presence.” [8]

The conservative Bible commentator, Albert Barnes writes:
“The word ‘gods’ — Elohim is rendered by the word angels — but the word may have that sense. Thus it is rendered by the Lxx.; in Job xx. 15; and in Psalm viii. 6; cxxxviii. 1. It is well known that the word Elohim may denote kings and magistrates, because of their rank and dignity; and is there anything improbable in the supposition that, for a similar reason, the word may be given also to angels? The fair interpretation of the passage then would be, to refer it to angelic beings — and the command in Ps. xcvii. is for them to do homage to the being there referred to.” [9]

And finally, we refer to the Rabbinical interpretation of the verse which has always been interpreted by the Rabbis in light of Hosea 12:4 and as such they understand the man as an angel of God and not God Himself.

“The Sages have explained that the angel that Yaakov wrestled with that night was the guardian angel of Eisav. [10]

Citing Rabbi Ovadia ben Jacob Sforno and Rabbi Rashi, Rabbi Nosson Scherman identifies the man who wrestled with Jacob as God’s angel:

25-32. The struggle with the angel. The confrontation between Jacob and a “man” was one of the cosmic events in Jewish history. The Rabbis explained that this man was the guardian angel of Esau (Rashi), in the guise of a man.

— And a man wrestled with him ויאבק איש עמו
God dispatched the angel to pave the way for the ultimate salvation of Jacob and his descendants. [11]

In sum, it does not befit the majesty of the Supreme God, the Creator of the universe to enter into a wrestling match, with his created being that is intrinsically weak and contingent on God’s mercy for his sustenance and continued existence, only to lose and come to equal bargaining terms with the said creature. It is beyond the propriety of monotheistic theology to demean God’s Majestic Supremacy and His status as Supreme Overlord of the universe to be defeated by a maggot (how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot…” Job 25:6). We therefore reject this most unusual and unsavoury depiction of the divine. It would behoove the Christian Trinitarian to replace their crude interpretation in favour of an affirmation of God’s Supremacy and in His Power that has no equal. We submit that it is far more appropriate to view Genesis 32 as showing Jacob in a struggle with a man or even an angelic being than with God and we have offered plentiful of scriptural and rational reasoning to that effect.


Several German authorities may also be adduced that show that Jacob was not wrestling with God Almighty, but His representative who was an angel. Ancient artifacts, classical paintings and other archaic works of art magnificently depict the understanding that Jacob wrestled with an angel and not with God Almighty.

Director of the Art Gallery of the Royal Museum of Berlin (Director der Gemaldegallerie des konigl. Museums zu Berlin), Dr. Gustav Friedrich Waagen writes:

“Der gewohnliche Engel fehlt, doch sicht man den Widder. b. Jacob ringt mit dem Engel, welcher, mit am oberen Ende goldenen Purpurschwingen, ubermachtig und gewaltig, ihm ein Bein sehr stark emporhebt, wodurch das Verrenken der Hufte sehr anschaulich gemacht ist.” [12]

One of the objects on display at the museum has “Jacob ringt mit dem Engel” which means “Jacob wrestling with the angel” and the angels have purple wings with encrusted gold at the top showing it to be superior in strength and powerful. And the spraining of his leg (by Jacob) is depicted clearly.

In an even older depiction dated 1659, we may see Jacob wrestling with the angel. This was painted by the great painter Rembrandt.

“In Rembrandts beruhmtem Gemalde <<Jakob ringt mit dem Engel>> (um 1659, Berlin) ist << Jakov seinem Gegner im Ringen uberlegen…, den er hebt ihn in die Luft wie Herkules den Antaus. Aber der Besiegte zeigt durch seinen hoheitsvollen, zugleich gutigen Blick auf den starken Mann, das er kein Wesen von dieser Welt ist, sondern Gott, der bereit ist, seinen Uberwinder zu segnen.” [13]

The description given above says that in Rembrandt’s famous painting of the incident (dated 1659 in Berlin) shows Jacob struggling with the angel. The painting shows Jacob to be superior to the angel to the extent that he lifts the angel into the air like Hercules lifting the Libyan giant Antaeus. Jacob vanquishes the angel and it is not a being of this world, but is God (in the metaphorical sense or that he represents God as His Shaliach), and is ready to bless his conqueror, Jacob.

The biblical scholar Wilhelm Smidt-Biggemann writes:

“Der Engel, mit dem Jakob ringt, heist Peliel. Er bringt Jakob im nachtlichen Kampf bei, dass er, Jacob, nicht der Messias sei.” [14]

And Johann Heinrich Fussli, just before writing “David als Ueberwinder Goliaths” (David as conqueror of Goliath), mentions clearly that “Jacob ringt mit dem Engel” [15] which means “Jacob wrestled with the angel”.

But what about Hosea 12:3?
According to many Trinitarians, if not most of them, Jacob most certainly wrestled with God because Hosea 12:3 says so. The full story comes in Genesis 32 and Hosea 12:3-4 recapitulates the incident and to Trinitarians Hosea 12:3 specifies the identity of the being that struggled with Jacob. For example, the Trinitarian heavyweight evangelist and preacher extraordinaire, Billy Graham writes that, “Centuries later Hosea testified to this incident, saying that the God of heaven had appeared to Jacob, ministering to him in the person of an angel (Hosea 12:3-6).” [16] Yes, we must agree that both the Mesoretic text and the Septuagint do indeed say in verse 3 of Hosea 12 that:
“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God.”
The word used there in the Mesoretic is ‘elohim’ and the Septuagint uses its Greek equivalent ‘theos’.
But there are a few problems with Graham’s claim: Firstly, The verse as you can see does not say that this being was the “God of heaven”. The verse simply says ‘elohim’ or ‘theos’. And it should be noted that neither Greek nor Hebrew has capital or lower case letters. The capitalisation reflects the theological bias of the translator/s that translated the text. ‘Elohim’ or ‘theos’ can and should be rightly translated in the lower case unless there is a clear indication or qualification within the verse or in the immediate context showing that the being or person named as ‘elohim’ is in fact Almighty God. As we have shown in the article above, the term ‘god’ is applicable to created beings other than Almighty God. For example, Moses is clearly identified as ‘elohim’ in Exodus 7:1. The second problem with Graham’s claim is that he says this “God” who struggled with Jacob appeared “in the person of an angel”. No, the being that struggled with Jacob was a “man”. He is described as a man five times in Genesis 32:24-28! There can be no doubt that this being cam in the person of a man but centuries later Hosea clarifies the situation by identifying him as an angel in Hosea 12:4, just one verse after verse 3 which identifies him as ‘elohim’. So, Jacob actually struggled with a man who was actually an angel that appeared as that man. It would be absurd to complicate and convolute this by saying that it was a man who was actually an angel who was actually God that was actually Jesus who appeared as a man. If it was indeed God, then there is no point in identifying the being as an angel, since he did not appear to Jacob in the form as an angel, but rather, a man. Applying the law of parsimony, the Unitarian understanding seems more feasible and soundly tenable than the confusing Trinitarian interpretation.
The truth of the matter is beautifully captured by the Trinitarian-produced Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible which translates Hosea 12:3 as follows:
“In the womb he supplanted his brother: and by his strength he had success with an angel.”
The Trinitarian may retort, “But that is a mistaken translation, since the original Hebrew says ‘elohim’, which must be rendered ‘god’, and not ‘malakh’, the Hebrew word for angel.” The word ‘elohim’ literally means ‘mighty ones’ but ‘god’ is an acceptable translation in the case of Hosea 12:3 as it refers to a single person and in such cases the plural ‘elohim’ takes the meaning of the “plural of intensification” or “the plural of majesty”. But the Trinitarian retort is actually the one mistaken in accusing the Catholic Bible above of being in error, because the translation is not based on the Hebrew Mesoretic text but the Latin Vulgate. It was translated from the Vulgate by scholars at the English College of Douai. And the Vulgate is the work of the great Trinitarian theologian Saint Jerome. The following is the original reading of Hosea 12:3 that was put together by Jerome in his Biblia Sacra Vulgata:
“in utero subplantavit fratrem suum et in fortitudine sua directus est cum angelo.”
As we can see, the word that he uses is ‘angelo’ which is rightly translated by the Douay-Rheims as “angel”. The importance of Jerome’s translation of this verse in this regard is that despite his inherent Trinitarian belief, he does not see this verse as deifying the man or the angel that wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32. Rather, he affirms the correct identification of the being as an angel that Hosea 12:4 clearly stipulates.
Additionally, the Jewish translation of the verse as produced by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translates the verse as follows:
“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And by his strength he strove with a godlike being.”
This angel that came as a man to Jacob was godlike which is quite different from being God Himself. Godlike in this sense means supernatural or powerful.
The biblical scholar, Dwight Roger Daniels affirms the understanding of Jerome and the JPS as he writes:
“The repetition in v. 4b and v. 5aα, besides being based in the dictates of the poetic structure, serves to prevent misunderstanding about the identity of the אלהים in v. 4b. It was not God himself but an angel with whom Jacob struggled.” [17]
Daniels bases his work on the numbering system used in the Jewish Tanakh or Jewish Old Testament translation. While most English translation has Hosea 12:3 as the verse that speaks of the being that met Jacob as ‘elohim’, the version that Daniels uses numbers the verse as Hosea 12:4 and the Hosea 12:4 that speaks of the ‘malakh’ (angel) appears as Hosea 12:5 in the Bible Daniel uses. For those who are not very familiar with this, it is suffice to mention that the original Hebrew texts of the Old Testament did not have specific chapters and numbers for each verse. This is a modern development and so different translators may number the verses differently based on their understanding of the texts. Coming back to the point at hand, Daniels argues that the word ‘elohim’ does not make the wrestler Almighty God, because his real identity is concluded in the next verse. In other words, ‘malakh’ qualifies ‘elohim’ and not the other way around. The verse that identifies the person as an “angel” exists to deter people from misunderstanding the previous verse, but sadly, misunderstanding and misinterpretation abound in the Trinitarian theological view of Hosea 12:3.
Similarly, Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford and Canon of Rochester, Rev. Dr.Thomas Kelly Cheyne comments on Hosea 12:3:
had power with God] Rather, contended with God. He alludes to Gen. xxxii. 25 (Jehovistic), ‘Israel’ being explained (rightly or wrongly) as ‘God’s combatant’. The word used for God is elohim, which is applicable to any divine or superhuman form (comp. I Samuel. xxviii. 13). Hence in the next verse we find ‘angel’, or, rendering etymologically, ‘administrator’ (mal’akh), substituted for it, to prevent misunderstanding. Comp. Gen. xvi. 10, 13, xlviii. 15, 16; Ex. xiii. 21 and xiv. 19.” [18]
Cheyne informs his reader, as we have explained above, that the word ‘elohim’ is in fact not exclusively used for Almighty God but may refer to created beings that are “divine” (meaning heavenly in this regard) or “superhuman” like angels. And he essentially puts forward the same point as Daniels that Hosea 12:14 in naming the person ‘malakh’ (angel) qualifies the previous descriptor ‘elohim’ and that the verse exists so as to prevent any misunderstanding that may arise in the minds of the reader. Had Hose 12:3 immediately run into verse 15, readers might mistake the being as Almighty God. Hosea 12:4 exists as a bridge between verse 13 and verse 15 that helps the reader come to the correct understanding that the being or the person that struggled with Jacob was in fact an angel and not Almighty God, Yahweh.
Thus, a careful scrutiny of Hosea 12:3 yields a positive confirmation of Unitarian monotheism and repudiates Graham and Trinitarians’ assumptions about the verse.


[1] Haight, R. (2003). Jesus Christ and Religious Pluralism. In Tatha Wiley (Ed.), Thinking of Christ: Proclamation, Explanation, Meaning. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. p. 95

[2] Hamilton, V. P. (1995). The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 335-336

[3] Reno, R. R. (2010). Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Genesis. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press. pp. 249-250

[4] Diamond, J. A. (2002). Maimonides and the Hermeneutics of Concealment: Deciphering Scripture and Midrash in the Guide of the Perplexed. New York: State University of New York Press. p. 110

[5] VanderKam, J. C. (1994). The Dead Sea Scrolls Today. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p.74

[6] Van Ruiten, J. T. A. G. M (2000). Primaeval History Interpreted: The Rewriting of Genesis 1-11 in the book of Jubilees. Leiden: Brill. p. 25

[7] Kitto, J. (1851). A Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black. p. 148

[8] Webster. R. (2009). Encyclopedia of Angels. Minnesota: Llwellyn Pubications. p. 55

[9] Barnes, A. (1846). Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Epistle to the Hebrews. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 35

[10] Anon. (2006). Illuminations: Talmudic Insights into the Chumash, Bereishis [1] Parshios, Toldos – Vayechi. Jerusalem, Israel: Feldheim Publishers. p. 85

[11] Scherman, N. ( 2000). Genesis. In Nosson Scherman & Meir Zlotowitz (Eds.), The Torah: Haftaros and Five Megillos with a Commentary Anthologized from the Rabbinic Writings. New YorkL Mesorah Publications, ltd. pp. 174-175

* Israel — According to Genesis 32:28, God, through His angel, promises Jacob that, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.” Some might see this as a minor issue, but it is nevertheless a problem that Christians need to resolve. In the verse, God proclaims that Jacob’s name ceases to be Jacob and is replaced by Israel. It would appear that the unknown redactionists of Genesis forgot that they included this declaration and repeated the same promise in Genesis 35:10, “God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.” Between Genesis 32:28 and Genesis 35:10, Jacob is persistently called Jacob and is never really called Israel by anyone. It is only after the second redundant declaration in Genesis 35:10 that Jacob begins to be addressed as Israel (Gen. 35:21, 22), but then again this new name of his is interchangeably used alongside Jacob, in a way that makes it seem like the redactionists or author of Genesis is confused as to whether to use the old name Jacob or to simply ditch that name and replace it with Israel.

[12] Waagen, G. F. (1839). Kunstwerke und Kunstler in England und Paris. Berlin: In Der Nicolaischen Buchhandlung. p. 210

[13] Dietrich, W. (2001). Jakobs Kampf Am Jabbok (Gen 32,23-33). In Jean-Daniel Macchi & Thomas Romer (Eds.), Jacob, Commentaire a plusieurs voix de Ein mehrstimmiger Kommentar zu A Plural Commentary of Gen 25-36: Melanges offerts a Albert de Pury. Geneve, Labor et Fides. p. 210 fn. 48

[14] Schmidt-Biggemann, W. (2010). Traditionskonkurrenzen. Eine Kreditgeschichte offenbarter Urprungsgeschichten. In Andreas B. Kilcher, Constructing Tradition: Means and Myths of Transmission in Western Esotericism. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. p. 367

[15] Fussli, J. H. (1809). Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon: oder : Kurze Nachricht von dem Leben und den Werken der Maler, Bildhauer, Baumeister, Kupferstecher, Kunstgiesser, Stahlschneider x. x. : Nebst angehangten Verzeichnissen der Lehrmeister und Schüler, auch der Bildnisse, der in diesem Lexicon enthaltenen Kunstler. Zurich: Fusli und Compagnie. p. 1344

"...Jacob ringt mit dem Engel, David als Ueberwinder Goliaths, die Goldaten, und die Keifenden..."

“…Jacob ringt mit dem Engel, David als Ueberwinder Goliaths, die Goldaten, und die Keifenden…” (Johann Heinrich Fussli, p. 1344 [1809])

[16] Graham, B. (1994). Angels: God’s Secret Agents. USA: Thomas Nelson. p. 76
[17] Daniels, D. R. (1990). Hosea and Salvation History: The Early Traditions of Israel in the Prophecy of Hosea. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter & Co. p. 43
[18] Cheyne, T. K. (1889). Hosea, with Noted and Introduction. In J. J. S. Perowne (Ed.), The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 114
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Responses to “Did Jacob wrestle with God, Jesus, or an angel?”

  1. Isaac Renova says:

    Angels don’t have the authority to ordain or to give the chosen men of God a new name. Only the Godhead has the authority to ordain His chosen human instruments, messengers, prophets, etc. It was The Lord Jesus who ordained Simon and Saul and RENAMED Simon and Saul to Peter and Paul respectively.

    The Lord Jesus has the authority to give a new name and will give a new name to His purified redeemed saints (Revelation 2:17)

    It just so happens that the angel in Genesis 32 renamed Jacob to Israel. Only The Lord Jesus has the authority to rename men (Revelation 2:17, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul). Therefore the angel in Genesis 32 must be The Lord Jesus. The Holy Bible does not record more than one angel renaming men. There are several accounts of The Lord Jesus renaming men or changing the names of men. There is only one account of one angel renaming or changing the name of one man: Jacob to Israel (Genesis 32). The angel of Genesis 32 must be The Lord Jesus. No angel (no cherub) has the authority to change names. Genesis 32 cannot possibly be an exception nor a unique case of one angel renaming a man. If this would have been the case, then there would be more repetitive patterns in The Holy Bible of angels commonly changing the names of men. Such pattern was not common nor repetitive. Genesis 32 cannot be some unique angel changing names. The angel or “messenger” of Genesis 32 must be The Lord Jesus.

    The term “angel” means “messenger.” The Lord Jesus also identified Himself as a messenger. The Messenger of messengers. The Prophet of prophets. The Lord Jesus read part of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4, thus identifying Himself as a messenger or angel.

    The term “angel” is not secluded nor confined to only apply to heavenly cherubs.

    God bless you brethren.

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      Thanks for your feedback. You mentioned that only the “godhead” has the authority to rename or ordain someone with a new name. This is your assumption that has zero scriptural evidence. No text says that only God can do that or that He can’t relegate such authority to whomsoever He desires. An angel working on behalf of God as his agent can do God’s bidding in His name and to the untrained, it may seem like God is doing the act when in fact He has chosen an intermediary to speak on His behalf.

Leave a Reply