So Jacob is returning to Canaan after spending fourteen years with his father in law Laban.
Jacob sends a messenger ahead of him. Then back comes the messenger, telling Jacob that his brother Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men!
Jacob is terrified. He divides his people and his livestock into two camps, telling himself that, If Esau attacks one camp, the other can escape. He prays to God to save him from the hand of Esau. And he puts aside two hundred goats, twenty sheep and two hundred camels, as well as cows, donkeys and rams. These he sends to Esau as a gift. The animals go ahead, but Jacob takes his family across the Yabbok crossing, then goes back by himself.
That night, Jacob is alone. A man wrestles with him all night, till dawn. (Most scholars identify this man as an angel of God.) The man touches his thigh, which had been dislocated. To this day, Jews who keep kosher do not eat that sinew on the thigh of an animal.
When dawn comes, Jacob says to the man: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
So the man tells him that his name will no longer be Jacob (Heel Sneak) but he will be called Yisrael (God Fighter.)
Jacob lifts up his eyes and sees Esau coming. Jacob arranges his concubines, his wives and his children behind him.
But guess what! Esau runs to Jacob and hugs him and kisses him and they both cry.
Esau meets Jacob’s family, and insists that he doesn’t need all the animals Jacob sent. Nevertheless, Jacob insists.
Esau goes right back to Se’ir, where he started from, but Jacob stays and builds himself a house in Sukkot. And he buys some land in Shekhem and builds an altar there.
Food for Thought
Why did God send an angel to wrestle with Jacob?