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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 16: Jacob wrestles with God - and wins!

(Genesis 32-33)

32 22 Jacob took his two wives, two concubines, and eleven sons, and crossed over the brook Jabbok.

24 Later on that same night, Jacob wrestled with a man until dawn the next day.

25 When the man saw that he couldn't beat Jacob, he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh, dislocating it.

26 The man said, "Let me go because it's getting light."

But Jacob said, "I won't let you go unless you bless me."

27 The man asked Jacob, "What is your name?"

Jacob said, "Jacob".

28 The man said,

Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it is Israel.

Because you have wrestled with God and have prevailed.

29 Jacob asked God, "Tell me your name."

God replied, "Why do you ask my name?"

30 Jacob said, "I've seen God face to face and lived."

32 Therefore Jews don't eat the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh. Because God touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

James Tissot c 1899, Jacob wrestles with an angel

Jacob meets Esau

33 1 Sometime later, Jacob saw Esau and 400 men coming to visit him.

3 Jacob approached his brother Esau, bowing his head to the ground seven times.

4 Esau ran to meet Jacob, kissed him and wept.

5 When Esau saw Jacob's family, he said, "Who are these women and children?"

Jacob replied, "They are the family God has given me."

6 Jacob's wives and children bowed to Esau.

8 Esau said to Jacob, "What's with all the animals I met on the way to see you?"

Jacob replied, "They are gifts to you to make you like me."

9 Esau said, "I have enough animals, brother. Keep them."

10 Jacob said,

No, please take them.

Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.

11 So Esau agreed to accept Jacob's gift.

15 Esau said "Let me leave some of my men with you."

"I don't need them. I just want you to like me," said Jacob.

16 So Esau returned to Seir.

17 And Jacob traveled to Succoth, where he built a house.

A few more words about this episode

He touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh (32:25)

Or did God grab Jacob's testicles, since "thigh" is a biblical euphemism for "testicles"?

Strange Flesh: Jacob's thigh

Jews don't eat the sinew (32:32)

In this episode, I said I would check to see if this is still a part of kosher foods. And indeed it is. In fact, it is one of the famous 613 commandments that are supposed to be in the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures). Maimonides list this as the 183rd negative commandmet: "Dont eat the gid ha-nasheh (sinew of the thigh vein) - Gen 32:33."

Filet Mignon: The prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve

Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it is Israel. (32:28)
God renames Jacob for the first time. (See 35:10 for the second renaming). God says that Jacob will henceforth be called Israel, but the Bible continues to call him Jacob anyway. And even God himself calls him Jacob in 46:2.
You have wrestled with God and have prevailed (32:28)
The mysterious cheating wrestler is finally identified as God. (Jacob wrestles with God and prevails. And sees God face to face.)
I've seen God face to face and lived (32:30)
Has anyone seen God?
Therefore Jews don't eat the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh (32:32)
Jews don't eat the sinew of something or other because God messed with Jacob's leg while wrestling with him. (Now that's a good reason!)