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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 32

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This Chapter relates some very extraordinary events, which occurred in the Patriarch Jacob's journey towards Canaan, after his separation from Laban. He is first met by an host of angels. He then sends messengers to his brother Esau, who dwelt in Seir, to enquire after his welfare, and to inform him of his own. The messengers return with an account that Esau is coming against him, and with him an army of 400 men: Jacob is greatly distressed with the intelligence, and hath recourse to God by prayer: he sends over the brook Jabbok all his family and household, and is left alone: an angel wrestles with him, until the breaking of the day: Jacob prevails, and obtains a blessing in consequence, the Lord puts a perpetual testimony of honour upon the Patriarch, in changing his name from Jacob to Israel.

Genesis 32:1

Perhaps this meeting was like that mentioned, Genesis 28:12 .

Verse 2

Mahanaim, signifies two bands, or camps. See Song of Solomon 6:13 ; Hebrews 1:14 ; Psalms 34:7 .

Verse 3

Seir was not in the very road to Canaan, but near it.

Verse 4

Observe the humbleness of Jacob's mind. He calls his brother Lord; though by the father's blessing of the birth-right given to him, he had the right of inheritance. See Genesis 27:29 . Reader! of such humbleness of soul are all the spiritual seed of Jacob.

Verse 5

Probably he makes mention of his worldly substance, by way of showing his brother that he needed nothing from him but his love and good-will.

Verses 6-7

Observe, no sooner is Jacob delivered from distress, by reason of Laban, but he falls into a similar, or greater trouble, from the fear of Esau. Reader! the world is full of Labans and Esaus, in the experience of the faithful followers of the Lamb. Jeremiah 30:7 .

Verses 8-9

Observe, the refuge of the saints! Where shall a child in his distress go, but to his father? And where shall the exercised believer flee, but to his God in Christ?

Verses 10-12

Hebrews I am less than all thy mercies:, etc.

Observe the sweet order of the Patriarch's prayer. First, he calls upon God, as his Covenant God, engaged to him by word, and oath, and promises. Genesis 17:1-7 . Secondly. He reminds God, that where he now is, in the troubles with which he is surrounded, he is in the path of duty, by the Lord's own appointment. Genesis 31:3-13 . Reader! do not forget that we may always rely upon the Lord's aid, when we are in the Lord's way. That promise is absolute: Proverbs 3:6 . Thirdly, Jacob acknowledgeth his utter unworthiness of receiving the blessing, in the very moment he asketh it. Oh! it is true grace in exercise, to lie low in the dust before God; and while imploring favor, to know that we merit wrath. Genesis 18:27 . Fourthly. The mercy asked, is the Covenant mercy promised, namely, deliverance from the oppressor. Here a soul finds sure ground to tread upon. Psalms 12:5 . Lastly. Jacob strengthens the whole, by reminding God of what God had reminded him, Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good. Genesis 28:13-15 . We never can pray better than in telling God what he hath told us. And when we offer all by the Spirit's influence, through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, on the Covenant faithfulness of God our Father, what is there that we can ask believing which we shall not receive? Reader! make this whole subject spiritual; and beg of God the Holy Ghost to make it personal, as it may suit your own circumstances, and it will be a sweet scripture indeed. Romans 8:32 ; Psalms 119:49 .

Verses 13-22

Proverbs 21:14 .

Jabbok, the boundary of the coast of the Ammonites. Joshua 12:2 .

Verses 23-24

Reader! do you know what it is to be left alone to enjoy communion with God in Christ? Have you sent away all earthly concerns, and all natural connections, how near and dear soever they may be, in order to feel the full influence of gracious impressions. Who this angel was, may easily be known from the Patriarch's own account of him. Sweet to observe, in the numberless instances of it, how that Almighty angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus, seemed to long for the period when he would fully reveal himself unto his people. See Genesis 48:16 ; Hosea 12:4 .

Verse 25

Reader! observe the continual conflicts of the faithful. While dreading the coming of his brother, and not as a friend, the Lord himself comes forth to meet him, and seemingly as an enemy. And while poor Jacob is stirring up himself to lay hold on God for help, the Lord lays hold on him, with seeming violence.

Verse 26

See! how the Lord is even detained by the fervent cries of his children. Song of Solomon 7:5; Song of Solomon 7:5 . See also how vigorous are the actings of faith, when God's grace supports that faith. Song of Solomon 3:4 ; Isaiah 27:5 . And is not this a beautiful example of what Job prayed for? Job 23:3-6 .

Verses 27-28

No more Jacob, which signifies a supplanter; but Israel, which means a Prince. And do not all the spiritual seed of Jacob change their name when their nature is renewed? Isaiah 62:4 ; Revelation 3:12 .

Verse 29

Judges 13:17-18 .

Verses 29-31

The disjointed thigh testified what the Lord could have done. Sweet is it to have divine strength perfected in human weakness. What was Paul's experience but this, when carrying about with him in his body, the dying of the Lord Jesus. Galatians 6:17 . Reader! observe it is always sunshine in the soul, in or soon after seasons of divine communion.

Verse 30

Peniel means the face of God

Verse 32

Perhaps this custom was piously observed by the Israelites, in order to keep alive the remembrance how prevailing fervent prayer is, as manifested in this instance of their Great Ancestor.


Reader! I charge you not to close your review of this lovely chapter, which under God's teachings hath refreshed the minds of thousands, and will continue so to do until time shall be no more, without first gathering to yourself some of the many sweet things it speaks of to the people of God. You see, in the Patriarch's instance, how those unto whom angels minister, and even unto whom Jesus himself is revealed, may, and will, be exercised with many sharp and trying dispensations. Are you thus exercised in the spiritual warfare? Do you know what it is to have the ministry of angels meeting you in the way to Canaan? Do the seed of Esau come forth, to obstruct your path? And are you thereby constrained to seek aid from God? What nights of wrestlings in prayer have you counted? What days of sunshine have broken in upon your soul, to manifest divine communions? Can you call to mind the brook, the place, the time, when you have sent away the best and tenderest of all earthly endearments, that you might be left alone to enjoy the visits of God your Saviour.

Let these and the like questions arise in your minds, from the perusal of this chapter. And may the same gracious Covenant God and Saviour, (for he is the same yesterday, today, and forever,) grant both to you and to me, that in our going home to our Father's house, like the Patriarch, Jesus's host may meet us, and give us comfort: nay, may Jesus himself be there, in every step of the way; that Jordan's waves, and the valley of the shadow of death, that lie between, may not affright: for when he is near, his rod and staff shall comfort. So will goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life, till we come to dwell in the house of our God forever.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 32". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/genesis-32.html. 1828.
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