Jacob finally gets Rachel as his wife. But Laban wants Jacob to remain and feed his sheep, goats and cattle. As his wages, Jacob agrees he will get the less desirable livestock. Genesis 30 and 31 tells us that he stays with Laban a total of twenty years. That is an additional six years for Jacob to manipulate Laban’s livestock so that it appears that Jacob is getting the less favorable livestock as his wages whereas, in fact, he gets the stronger livestock and Laban the weaker. Thereby, he builds a fortune.
As you can imagine, Jacob leaves Laban on less than favorable terms. Genesis 31:49 contains the familiar parting phrase, “The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.” We used to close our Christian Endeavor meetings with that verse. My father noted that rather than the warm parting that it seemed, it was one of deep suspicion and resentment. You will see from its context it is quite different from the song that seems to be of similar sentiment, “God be with you ’til we meet again.”
Jacob returns to his homeland, Canaan, where he prepares to again meet Esau. He has no idea what to expect of Esau, their parting having been so bitter. Surely, Jacob could not have expected any change in Esau, as there had been so little change, it would seem, in Jacob’s own dishonest and manipulative nature. Jacob sends servants ahead to arrange a meeting with Esau. Esau sends back word that he will be at the appointed place the next day to meet Jacob – with four hundred men. That concerns Jacob. He does not rest well that night. Instead, he finds himself wrestling with a man until dawn and “throws out his hip.” For surviving the bout, he is named Israel.
Jacob names the place Peniel: “for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel REMBRANDT (1606-1669)
See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/89.html for the source of the photograph of the above painting. See http://www.rembrandtgallery.org/painting-REMBRANDT%20Harmenszoon%20van%20Rijn-Jacob%20Wrestling%20with%20the%20Angel-34521.htm for a brief description of Rembrandt’s style and place in art history.
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (detail) Eugène DELACROIX (1798-1863)
See http://www.artbible.info/art/large/604.html for a photograph of the above painting and a brief description.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob’s_Ladder for a fuller description of the symbolism in the story and in the paintings.
See http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/gauguin for expert analysis and discussion of a late Romantic, pre-modern interpretion of the same scene by Paul Gauguin.
Links to my site:
Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/