Jacob sends messengers to meet Esau in Edom to say he is returning and brings wealth and cattle to serve him. The messengers come back and say Esau is coming with 400 men. This frightens Jacob so he divides up his flocks and tells them, if Esau attacks you the other should flee. He then prepares an offering of 200 she goats, 20 he goats, 200 ewes and twenty rams, 30 milch camels and their colts , 40 kine and 10 bulls and 20 she asses and 10 foals. He gives orders to his servants to organize themselves with himself at the rear and to tell Esau that these are gifts from his servant Jacob. Jacob is hoping that this will help appease Esau’s anger towards him. He takes his wives and children over the river to safety, returns alone. Except he isn’t. He spends the night wrestling with a man but neither man wins. At the break of day they talk and the strange wrestler refuses to tell Jacob who he is. But he does tell Jacob that he should now be known as Israel because he is a prince who has power with God because he has prevailed. Jacob realizes that he has looked God in the face and that he will be ok against Esau. Oh – and by the way – the reason the children of Israel don’t eat the sinew from the hollow of the thigh in their meat is because that is where “God” touched Jacob while wrestling.
In other words:
Jacob sends word to his brother Esau that he is returning; Esau comes to meet him with 400 men. Jacob, afraid that Esau still wants to kill him, plans a strategy on how to keep his family safe. He either has a bad dream about wrestling with a foe he cannot beat or he meets God face to face. (I’m thinking it was a dream – since that would be a pretty common dream giving what he was expecting to happen the next day).
The wrestling match and the fact he has to change his name to Israel (Genesis 32:24-28)
Most interesting bit:
That we are given so much detail into Jacob’s strategy for prevailing against Esau if it turns out Esau is still mad. Jacob is a pretty clever man. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.
Moral Lesson Learned:
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst (Genesis 32)