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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYishlach 8-2

And (he) sent

Genesis 32:13 (14 Heb.) – 29 (30 Heb.)

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed."

Gen. 32:24-28 ESV

What happened to Yaakov in that fight?

At last Yaakov was left alone. That was what the Eternal wanted. He wanted to deal with him alone and He sent a heavenly messenger to wrestle with him. This is the final fight to prepare our father Yaakov for the entry in the promised land. The fight with the angel is a summary of the entire struggle between him and the Eternal along his 97 years of life. Yaakov wanted to get things done his way and on his own strength, but the Eternal wanted to weaken his trust in himself so He could manifest His supernatural strength and do things His way. The Eternal wanted to take Yaakov to a breaking point in which he would acknowledge and accept that he had been an impersonator, a deceiver, as his brother Esav had said: "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times." (27:36a NKJV)

When the angel noticed that he couldn't fight the strength of Yaakov's ego, he gave him a blow in the strongest part of the human body. So Yaakov was left handicapped not being able to trust his physical strength anymore. Then, in order to receive a blessing he had to say his name out loud. It was necessary that he admitted that his name was "one who supplants or replaces" which implies that there was something in him that was not good before the Eternal, because it meant that he would be able to recur to lies, tricks, deceit and theft in order to achieve material and spiritual benefits.

In that very moment Yaakov's deceitful character was exposed to the light of that One who sees all, and Yaakov couldn't but cry, broken, as it is written in Hosea 12:2, 3-4: "The LORD... will punish Jacob according to his ways; he will repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us" (ESV)

In that hurt was found the blessing and the victory. Yaakov received a new name which implies a new way of being – a new identity. When one humbles oneself, one is also lifted up, and when our father Yaakov humbled himself as much as he could, the Eternal could finally rectify – make tikkun – his character. 

If He could do it with Yaakov at his 97 years of life, He can do it with us if we are humble and let Him mold us into his great Model for men, the Son of Man.

May the Eternal take us to perfection,


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