Wrestling with Jacob

Last week the Adult Bible Study Guide explored the moral complexity of Jacob, who both tricks people but also is favored by God. Misled, trick, lie—whatever word one uses probably depends on how one understands the purpose of biographical narratives in the Bible. These are not Victorian 19th-century readings for the home circle. That type of morality tale for character development does not linger in the mind and soul the way that complex characters do, no matter the time period. There is a reason that sacred scripture persists beyond the concept of divine inspiration. The characters, not merely the words, ring true. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11815
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Profound and very nice, Alex.


and aside from added credibility, the faults in bible characters, i think, give serious hope that if they can be on the right side of god, we can, too…none of the bible heroes let their faults, which they must have known and understood, stop or slow them down…


Gen 32:29: “But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?”” — why this reply? Why would God not, if asked, reveal who he is?

V.26: “But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”” Then come V.27.28 where the man gives Jacob a new name - Israel - which we understand to be the blessing.

Then Jacob asks the above question with that peculiar answer - and then we read of the man: “Then he blessed him there.”

But…? Didn’t he bless him in V.27.28 already? How come that V.29 speaks of a blessing again? Is it the same blessing or a new one?

Three times there is daybreak mentioned. In V.24, 26 and 31 — is the whole event told two or even three times in parallel?

V.29 “Then he blessed him there.” - by calling him Israel? By that time Jacob already knew that old and new name of his. Was the reason for the question of the man “Why do you ask my name?” the fact that the man’s name was Jacob/Israel too? Like: Jacob, you already know whom you are fighting with: it’s your old self. So what do you need to ask?

Why then would God and Jacob be this man at the same time, i.e. Jacob be fighting with God and with himself? Could this text be saying that the God we have defines who we are?

And how could it be that this man needed to leave before dawn - and yet Jacob was able to say “I saw God face to face” - If it was still dark, how could he have seen that face?

He didn’t see that face, he didn’t hear that name — and yet he claims to have seen and heard. Because he knew who he was fighting against.

We also know, who we are fighting with.

And why does the passage end with such a trivialty like a dietary information?

If irritations in a text point to “gold nuggets” of truth, this passage must be a huge mine!

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