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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 32:26

Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let me go, for the day breaketh - Probably meaning, that as it was now morning, Jacob must rejoin his wives and children, and proceed on their journey. Though phantoms are supposed to disappear when the sun rises, that could be no reason in this case. Most of the angelic appearances mentioned in the Old and New Testaments took place in open day, which put their reality out of question.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Genesis 32:26

I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me

Jacob’s struggle for a blessing

He was thoroughly in earnest; he wrestled till he got the blessing.

II. If we wish to gain a blessing like Jacob’s, we must be alone with God. It is possible to be alone with God, even in the midst of a multitude.

III. Jacob’s heart was hardened with a load of sin. It crushed his spirit, and was breaking his heart. He could bear it no more, and so he made supplication. He wanted to be lifted out of his weakness, and made a new man.

IV. in the moment of his weakness, Jacob made a great discovery. He found that when we cannot wrestle we can cling.

V. He received the blessing wrestled for as soon as he became content to accept it as God’s free gift. (W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

Jacob’s prevailing prayer


1. The soul is absorbed in the awful loneliness of its own thought. “Jacob was left alone.” So is every one in similar experiences. In times of agony, friendly sympathy seems distant and ineffectual. We are even impatient with well-meant words of kindness. Then comes a sense of powerlessness. The afflicted one has done all he can, and now can only wait. At this juncture he begins to ask himself as to the cause of his misery. Why is he thus situated? Perhaps, like Jacob, he recognizes his sorrows as the lineal descendants of some former sin; or more likely, he now perceives, as never before, the general fact of his sinfulness, his imperfections as a Christian, and his failure to enjoy religious privileges.

2. Just here the soul is arrested by God’s presence. Abstracted from the world, because grief has made him indifferent to worldly thoughts, the Christian can now see God and feel His power. We can imagine Jacob, in his conflict of emotion, standing in the darkness by the brook Jabbok, lost in thought, when suddenly a heavy hand is laid upon his shoulder. He turns to find a mysterious Presence of terrible reality and power. That Presence he speedily recognizes as God. So now every storm-racked heart is introduced by conscience to its God.

3. In such times of trial, the soul at first finds God a seeming foe. Jacob at first was obliged to defend himself against his mysterious adversary. Who can tell what fearful surmises came over him as he wrestled in the dark with his terrible opponent? Can this be Esau? No; this is a superhuman strength. Can this be God? It surely is none else; but why does He meet me thus? God hedges men in to bring them to His feet, to show them themselves, to prevent prosperity from injuring them, very likely to prepare them for it, to purify them from remaining sin, frequently to fit them for some great work. We must pass through the furnace before we are what we should be.


1. The narrative discloses the human means of securing this relief, namely, prayer.

2. The narrative sets before us the Divine methods of giving relief to the soul.

3. The narrative indicates the safeguard of the soul in this secured relief. Jacob, though his troubles were now passed, yet halted on his thigh, and doubtless limped through life. He carried from that place of conflict and triumph a reminder of his dependence. He had then, ever after, a sense of his weakness, and could say with Paul, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” There is danger, after meeting God face to face and securing His favour, of undue elation. Even Paul, with all his saintliness, needed a thorn in the flesh, lest he be exalted above measure. We may forget that every successful struggle with sin or attainment in piety is due solely to the Divine help. For this reason, doubtless, God has established a universal law in life. We cannot pass through a terrible experience like Jacob’s without bearing the scars of battle. (A. P. Foster.)

Jacob’s powerful prayer

1. It was a prayer that by living faith took firm hold upon God. He came to God, not as one far off, but close at hand; not merely on the throne, but present in all the affairs of daily life. He comes to Him as the God of his fathers, the God of the covenant. He at once lays hold of the Divine faithfulness. As much as any one thing, we need to-day this sense of God as ever present to be a restraining power in business life. Like the patriarch, every believing soul must draw nigh to God, reverently, it is true, but not timidly or distrustfully. The command is to “come boldly to a throne of grace.” We must come not as though we more than half questioned whether there is any God, or, if there be, whether He cares anything about us, and will hear our prayer; but with all the heart believing “that He is, and is the Rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.”

2. Jacob did not offer a hasty prayer for safety merely in general terms, and then go about his worldly business with all the intensity of his nature. His need was urgent, was deeply felt; and he found time enough to press it before God. The whole night was none too long for his business with God.

3. Wrestling, Jacob came to a point where he was powerless. All he could do was to hold fast to God. God never takes from any of His children their power to do this. Every other refuge may be swept away, but they can cling still.

4. Jacob’s prayer was direct and simple. He asked for just what he wanted, then stopped. (The Study.)

Importunate prayer

I. THE OBJECTS OF JACOB’S PRAYER or, the blessings implored. It need not be disguised that one of these was the preservation of his own life, and the safety of his family and substance. It would be doing Jacob injustice, however, to deny that higher objects than the preservation of himself, and of his family and substance, occupied his thoughts and prayers on this critical occasion. The very circumstances in which he was placed were calculated to call his sins to remembrance; just as his sons were reminded of their unnatural and criminal conduct towards Joseph, by being thereby involved in difficulties in Egypt many long years after their sin had been committed. Jacob being reminded of the falsehood and deceit by which he had provoked the anger and vengeance of his brother, would humbly confess his sin and earnestly pray for the salvation of his soul, whatever might be the fate of his body at this time. Knowing that the souls of his family were as precious as his own, and remembering the relation in which he stood to them, and the duty that he owed them, he would be very importunate in prayer for their salvation also, though they should fall by the sword of Esau. But he would not despair of their preservation. He would remember the covenant of God with his father Abraham, and the promise that He would make of him a great nation, and that in his seed, which is Christ, all the families of the earth would be blessed. He would pray that he and his family might live to be witnesses for God in a world lying in wickedness, and might introduce the spiritual seed, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed.


1. Jacob sought retirement for devotion.

2. Jacob spent a long time in prayer.

3. We must implore lawful things, and employ proper arguments to attain them.

4. We ought to be earnest and persevering in prayer.

5. We should pray in faith and hope.

III. THE ANSWER WHICH JACOB OBTAINED TO HIS PRAYERS. God blessed him there. He obtained a gracious answer. (R. Smith, D. D.)

Importunity in prayer

I. EXPLAIN THIS HOLY WRESTLING IN PRAYER. Wrestling implies some resistance to be overcome. Some of the chief obstructions which must be overcome are--

1. A sense of guilt whelming the soul.

2. A frowning Providence discouraging the mind.

3. Unbelieving thoughts and inward temptations.

4. Coldness and slothfulness of the heart.

5. Discouragement through Divine delays.


1. It strengthens in our minds a sense of God’s glory.

2. Our unworthiness vindicates it.

3. The inestimable value of the blessings to be obtained requires it.


1. It prepares for blessings in many cases: it is itself the actual possession of them.

2. It has the promises of success.

3. Memorable examples confirm its worth.


1. How many have cause to mourn their lack of this spirit!

2. Its absence is one cause of the low state of religion.

3. As you would persevere in prayer, be watchful and circumspect, observe the course of Providence, be much in intercession for others. (Dr. J. Wotherspoon.)


Canon Wilberforce tells a pathetic story illustrating the force of this little word “now.” It was of a miner who, hearing the gospel preached, determined that, if the promised blessing of immediate salvation were indeed true, he would not leave the presence of the minister who was declaring it until assured of its possession by himself. He waited, consequently, after the meeting to speak with the minister, and, in his untutored way, said, “Didn’t ye say I could have the blessin’ now?” “Yes, my friend.” “Then pray with me, for I’m not goin’ awa’ wi’out it.” And they did pray, these two men, wrestling in prayer until midnight, like Jacob at Penuel, until the wrestling miner heard silent words of comfort and cheer, even as Jacob heard the angel’s announcement, “As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” “I’ve got it now!” cried the miner, his face reflecting the joy within; “ I’ve got it now!” The next day a terrible accident occurred at the mines--one of those accidents which so frequently shock us with their horror merely in the reading of them. The same minister was called to the scene, and among the men, dead and dying, was the quivering, almost breathless body of this man, who only the night before, big and brawny, came to him to know if salvation could really be had now for the asking. There was but a fleeting moment of recognition between the two, ere the miner’s soul took flight, but in that moment he had time to say, in response to the minister’s sympathy, “Oh, I don’t mind, for I’ve got it--I’ve got it--it’s mine!” Then the name of this poor man went into the bald list of “ killed.” There was no note made of the royal inherit-ante to which he had but a few hours before come into possession, and all by his believing grip of the word “now.”


This is what every Christian ought to have, and what many a one lacks. There is a certain inspiration in the very thought of the clenched hand, with its tense muscle and unyielding grasp. It signifies not only strength, but purpose; not only earnestness, but endurance. It is the symbol of a necessary and important element of a Christian’s success. It typifies consecrated self-control, that mastery which every true child of Christ has in some degree over his own sinful nature, and which, having secured by the Holy Spirit’s help, he maintains by the aid of the same blessed agency. It typifies, too, that hold which he has upon Christ Himself, that tenacious, yet reverent, clinging of spirit which imparts to his prayers the temper of Jacob’s words, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” It typifies also that benevolent, yet authoritative influence which he seeks to gain, and usually succeeds in gaining, over his more sorely tempted fellows; the drunkard, for instance, who is rapidly losing confidence in himself without yet finding it in God, and who needs the protection of some sturdy, masterful soul who has no personal fear of his temptation, and has the power and the will to stand by him through everything to cheer and uphold, and by God’s grace to save. Grip is the holding fast and not letting go, in spiritual as in material life. It is tenacity of holy purpose, renewal of effort after moral failure, cheerfulness in the teeth of discouragement, hopefulness for others, no matter how low they may have sunk, and unfaltering faith in the truth that God reigns, can save to the uttermost, and somehow will bring out all things aright for His own. What wonder that he who has it is a healthy, useful Christian! He may be timid by nature, weak in body, and humble in place, but if he illustrate what a true Christian grip is upon himself and his little world, men learn to marvel at him. Something of God’s own Almighty power is visible in him. What he does succeeds, and in blessing others he is doubly blessed himself.

The Prayer-meeting at Jabbok

Events drive Jacob’s mind back on the past, which has been a series of wrestlings with his nearest neighbour, the gain of which has been wealth, but the loss that, in most important senses, he is “left alone.” Jacob is one of those men who, wild among their fellows, are tame and best when “alone.” The world contemns the man who is crafty as one of its own children when among men, but afterwards goes to the prayer-meeting. The world, however, would not be better pleased with him if he did not go, and the man, in that case, very likely would be a wilder man. There are three way-side prayer-meetings in Jacob’s journeyings so far. Where God tells him that “the world has been too much with him” of late--Bethel, Mahanaim, Jabbok. Jacob is redeemed from the world by the prayer--meeting. How do we use the opportunities which God gives when He throws open to us the hallowed gates of the lonely hour? Do we enter with thanksgiving and betake ourselves to prayer, “the flight of the lonely man to the only God”? “There wrestled,” &c. Again and again the heavenly world enters into controversy with Jacob, and breaks the spell of this world. At Bethel he saw angels, at Mahanaim he met angels, but at Jabbok one of them stayed to minister to the man who wrestled with the old self and needed help. “I can do all things through Christ, that strengtheneth me.” When we make a vow, we lay hold on the angel of the covenant. If we forget our vow, we let the angel go. A little shell-fish can cling to the rock, despite the Atlantic, because of a tiny vacuum in the shell. Our emptiness is our strength with God. Jacob in the world is “somebody,” but at the prayer-meeting “nobody” but broken, sinewless Jacob. Our wrestling must be with “pleading, not with contradiction.” He blessed him there. The blessing, in brief, was the power to look at the world and himself from a cleaner heart through a cleaner eye. The place was Penuel, the face of God, and he was Israel, a prince, from that time. No religious meeting or exercise will have done us good unless it exalt us, and make the world- wife, children, home, friends, business--look lovelier and more sacred. (T. M. Rees.)

Boldness in prayer exemplified

There is a wide difference between striving against God and striving with God. Some men strive against God by their sins, and they must be conquered by His power; but Jacob strove with God. Jehovah Himself gave strength and determination to his servant, for the express purpose that he might, as a prince, have power and prevail. It is one of the most delightful evidences of Divine condescension, that He is willing to be conquered by human prayer and importunities.

1. Who was that personage that appeared to Jacob, and wrestled with him? The narrative calls him a man; but all interpreters are agreed, that by this is meant some one in the form of a man. Was it, then, a created angel? or, was it God Himself? We think the latter; because, though He is called an angel, Jacob paid Him Divine homage. Again, because the inspired prophet, referring to this event, says that Jacob had power with God. And again, because Jacob himself said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Once more, because the patriarch appeals to Him in our text for a blessing, which he could hardly look for from any being but God. There is another point to which I would direct your attention, viz., that this angel was not merely God, but God the Son, who in this, and in many other instances, anticipated His Incarnation, by appearing in the form and fashion of a man. With whom should Jacob wrestle to obtain pardon for his sin, and deliverance from its just consequences, but with the appointed Mediator, who should make atonement, and then enter into the heaven of heavens, there to appear in the presence of God for us?

2. What was this wrestling? Was it spiritual, or corporeal, or both? There are a few interpreters, and but a few, who think it was purely spiritual; and that there was no bodily conflict at all, but that it was illusive and imaginary. It is said distinctly, “There wrestled a Man with him”; and that Man, when the conflict had lasted long, says, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” Finally, he touched Jacob’s thigh upon the sinew that shrank, so that he went halting to the end of his days. All these are strong marks of reality, which go far to prove that the outward form of this conflict was corporeal. Yet, beyond all question, it was connected with a mental and spiritual wrestling with God in prayer. The outward was a sign and picture of the inward strife; and Jacob to this day is an image of every saint who prevails with God by the holy boldness, earnest opportunity, and untiring perseverance of His supplications.

3. Why did this wrestling take place? what was its great end? With respect to Jacob himself, it signified that he should overcome the hatred of his brother Esau; for what has he to fear from man, who, as a prince, hath power with God? With respect to ourselves, and to the Church generally, we may consider this scene as descriptive pictorially, not of Jacob’s condition only, but of all the saints with him. They are all wrestlers, by their very calling; wrestlers with affliction, with temptation, with outward and with inward, with carnal and with spiritual enemies: yet, in the strength of God, they shall all overcome. Wrestlers with God; that is, men of prayer. Now, we take our text as exemplifying to us this one subject, boldness in prayer: “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” Now, there are two reflections that, in a manner, force themselves upon our notice. One is, that God never violently withdraws Himself from a praying man. His trial of our faith and importunity never stretch beyond this, “Let me go, if Thou canst consent”; and, even when the trial proceeds so far, it is only done to provoke a refusal. It was obviously not the Divine intention to send Jacob away unblessed, but to elicit this proof of his determination. The other reflection is consequent upon it; namely, that when God withdraws from any man, it is always with his own consent. He must be willing to give up the point before he loses his advantage. No man can fail to obtain everything that he really needs, and everything that God has promised, unless he himself voluntarily draws back and yields; otherwise, God consents to be overcome by prayer. This is the great comfort of every sinner, and of every saint.


1. God does not approve the boldness which is grounded on self-righteous principles: it must, therefore, be connected with a deep sense of guilt and unworthiness (Genesis 32:10).

2. God does not approve that boldness which loses sight of His own awful majesty and holiness. Boldness must be associated with reverence and godly fear, to be acceptable. What! can God’s condescension and love give an unworthy creature the smallest ground to forget his own unworthiness, and the infinitude of Him with whom he has to do? On the contrary, it should deepen his sense of his own meanness, and increase his adoration.

But let us come more particularly to the question.

1. God approves that boldness which surmounts all the doubts and fears adapted to obstruct our freedom of access to Him. There are improper fears, and a sinful diffidence opposed to the exercise of prayer. When, for instance, a sense of guilt and unworthiness leads us to suspect that God will not hear us, will not forgive; this is a sign of faint-heartedness, not of humility. It is a sentiment directly contrary to His revealed will. Now, Jacob might have been restrained by similar considerations. He might have thought of all his sins.

2. God approves that boldness in prayer which is evinced by the largeness of its desires. He is not honoured by feeble desires and limited supplications. His promises are most ample, and various in the benefits which they convey.

3. God approves that boldness which is importunate, and will take no denial. It is often necessary that a blessing be withheld for a season, in order that its full value may be realized. Moreover, this is an important test of sincerity. Coldness and languor are repulsed and betrayed. Genuine devotion believes the word, and will not consent to go empty away. Formality is satisfied without the blessing, when conscience is appeased by the performance of the duty. The true worshipper cannot rest in outward services if the blessing be not given.


1. The urgency of our wants. The fervency of prayer should be regulated by our condition. It is evident that the secret of Jacob’s importunity was the pressing circumstances in which he felt himself to be placed. His was a kind of desperation, inspired by the extremity of his danger.

2. The importance of the blessing. We plead not merely for well-being, we plead for life; life, not of the body, hut of the soul. If we do not prevail we are lost.

3. The absolute certainty of its prevalence. There will be timidity in asking, wherever there exists a doubt of obtaining. Thine own word is my warrant, when I answer, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”

IN CONCLUSION, the subject is adapted to impress upon our minds these two points of instruction: the quality of prayer, and the power of prayer.

1. Boldness is an essential characteristic of prayer. This may be made clear by barely mentioning the defects and infirmities to which it is opposed. Can there be sincerity and acceptableness where there is a want of sensibility and zeal, where low views are entertained of the kindness and grace of God, and where the suppliant is ready to withdraw from the mercy-seat without the blessing, at the least discouragement or delay?

2. Observe exemplified the power of prayer. “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, seek ye Me in vain!” (D. Katterns.)

The characteristic of true prayer

Now that Jacob found himself once more in Esau’s power, he trembled to think of the consequences. There were two considerations which must have intensified his agony of mind.

1. That he had brought these difficulties upon himself. Conscience now accused him of his crime with the same vehemence as if it had been committed only yesterday. Ah! this is a solemn fact in connection with certain sins which we rashly perpetrate! Painful indeed was Jacob’s reflection now upon the past. Had he conducted himself as a straightforward man in his youth, he might have avoided his present trouble. How he wished he could have commenced life again! Even in old age men are doomed to possess the sins of their youth, to reap the inevitable consequences of early aberrations.

2. That others beside himself shared in the impending danger. He is now the head of a family; he has wives and children whom he passionately loves; they are in danger of being put to death on the morrow by his furious brother; and his conscience reproaches him with being the cause of their misery. Surely this was the keenest pang of all--the bitterest ingredient in his cup of bitterness. Such is human life. Say not that children are never punished for the transgressions of their parents; reason not concerning the injustice of such an arrangement; the hard fact continually stares us in the face, and warns us at every step to beware, to take heed to ourselves, to be prudent in our conduct, not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of others, whom we may unwittingly injure. “And Jacob was left alone.” It is when you are alone with the powers of nature-powers whose existence speaks of a higher Power, which sustains them all--that the light of Heaven is most likely to flash upon your soul. It was when banished to the isle of Patmos that John saw the glorious visions recorded in the Book of Revelation; it was when imprisoned in Bedford goal that Bunyan dreamed his Pilgrim’s Progress; it was when shut up in total darkness that Milton sang his Paradise Lost. We are taught here that--

I. WHEN WE TRULY PRAY, WE BECOME CONSCIOUS OF THE PRESENCE OF A PERSONAL GOD. It is stated that “there wrestled a man with Jacob until the breaking of the day.” God is not an abstract idea of the mind; is not the natural powers by which we are surrounded; for He has a personal existence. God is a person, and as such, men in all ages have desired to know Him; to commune with Him, to call upon Him in distress. It is when we pray, however, that this fact forces itself most vividly upon our minds. It may be said, therefore, that true prayer can never be uttered where the presence of a personal God does not inspire the soul. You must feel, like Jacob, that there is a Parson with you, standing at your side, listening to your cry; for otherwise it will not be prayer, but a form--it will not be an outpouring of the heart, but a meaningless performance.

II. WHEN WE TRULY PRAY, WE BECOME CONSCIOUS OF A STRUGGLE TO OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES. The experience of formidable opposition in drawing near to God is by no means uncommon. The repelling power with which Jacob struggled on this occasion, has been encountered by almost every suppliant at the throne of grace. Indeed, our Lord seemed anxious to prepare the minds of His disciples to expect it. “And He spake a parable unto them for this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” But our Lord prepared His disciples to expect difficulties in prayer by other means than parables--by His dealings with some who sought temporal favours at His hands. While He sojourned in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, a woman of Canaan came to Him, crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” Passing on with perfect unconcern, He feigned not to hear her; for He answered her not a word. She then cried all the more, “Have mercy on me,” so that His disciples felt annoyed, and besought Him to send her away. Thus when we encounter difficulties in prayer, when we feel as if God did not hear us, it is because God wishes to test our faith, and by testing to strengthen it. Consequently, not only do we enjoy God’s blessing with greater relish when it comes, but we are also made stronger for His service.

III. WHEN WE TRULY PRAY, WE BECOME CONSCIOUS OF A CHANGE IN OURSELVES, AS A TOKEN OF SUCCESS. It may be that when we are apparently most unsuccessful, we are really most successful. We do not obtain the very thing we seek at the time, but the spiritual strength we acquire in the effort may be infinitely more important than the thing itself. It always happens thus when true, fervent, earnest prayer is sent up from the heart to God; when there is a mighty struggle to obtain a blessing from above, there comes over the soul a change for the better, a visible improvement, a closer resemblance to God’s image. Jacob carried in his body ever after a memorial of the wrestling of that night; for “he halted on his thigh.” We are reminded here of a beautiful story, told of the celebrated John Elias, the prince of Welsh orators. He addressed on one occasion a meeting presided over by the late Marquis of Anglesey. The marquis, as you know, was lame, having lost a limb in the famous battle of Waterloo. Referring, therefore, to that circumstance, the speaker thrilled his audience by this striking remark, “We have a president here this evening, whose very step as he walks reminds you of his bravery!” So Jacob “halted on his thigh.” His limping gait kept in remembrance his wonderful victory with God. A man of prayer is well known as such; there are certain marks which reveal his character; his public performances bear the impress of his private wrestlings. In this transforming, elevating, and invigorating influence of prayer lies the secret of a godly man’s strength. (D. Rowlands, B. A.)

Earnest prayer

When a person told a story in a heartless way, Demosthenes said, “I don’t believe you.” But when the person then repeated the assertion with great fervour, Demosthenes replied, “Now I do believe you.” Sincerity and earnestness are ever urgent. The prophetess at Delphos would not go into the temple once when Alexander wished to consult the oracle. He then forced her to go, when she said, “My son, thou art invincible”; a remark which led him to believe he should always conquer in war. Luther was so earnest in his prayers that it used to be said, “He will not be denied.” When Scotland was in danger of becoming Popish, John Knox prayed most mightily for its preservation in the true faith. “Give me Scotland,” he pleaded, “or I die”; and his prayers have been answered. Epaphras “laboured fervently in prayer.” Christ, “being in an agony, prayed the more fervently.”

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 32:26". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he said, let me go, for the day breaketh,.... This was said that he might seem to be a man that was desirous of going about his business, as men do early in the morning; though the true reason perhaps was, that his form might not be more distinctly seen by Jacob, and much less by any other person:

and he said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me; for by his touching his thigh, and the effect of that, he perceived he was more than a man, even a divine Person, and therefore insisted upon being blessed by him: thus faith in prayer lays hold on God, and will not let him go without leaving the blessing it is pleading for; which shows the great strength of faith, and the efficacy of the prayer of faith with God; see Exodus 32:10.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I will not let thee go, except thou bless me — It is evident that Jacob was aware of the character of Him with whom he wrestled; and, believing that His power, though by far superior to human, was yet limited by His promise to do him good, he determined not to lose the golden opportunity of securing a blessing. And nothing gives God greater pleasure than to see the hearts of His people firmly adhering to Him.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

See! how the Lord is even detained by the fervent cries of his children. Song of Solomon 1:4; Son_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.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https: 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Let me go — The angel, by an admirable condescension, speaks Jacob fair to let him go, as God said to Moses, Exodus 32:10. Let me alone. Could not a mighty angel get clear of Jacob's grapples? He could; but thus he would put an honour upon Jacob's faith and prayer. The reason the angel gives why he would be gone is because the day breaks, and therefore he would not any longer detain Jacob, who had business to do, a journey to go, a family to look after.

And he said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me — He resolves he will have a blessing, and rather shall all his bones be put out of joint, than he will go away without one. Those that would have the blessing of Christ must be in good earnest, and be importunate for it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Wesley, John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

26.Let me go. God concedes the praise of victory to his servant, and is ready to depart, as if unequal to him in strength: not because a truce was needed by him, to whom it belongs to grant a truce or peace whenever he pleases; but that Jacob might rejoice over the grace afforded to him. A wonderful method of triumphing; where the Lord, to whose power all praise is entirely due, yet chooses that feeble man shall excel as a conqueror, and thus raises him on high with special eulogy. At the same time he commends the invincible perseverance of Jacob, who, having endured a long and severe conflict, still strenuously maintains his ground. And certainly we adopt a proper mode of contending, when we never grow weary, till the Lord recedes of his own accord. We are, indeed, permitted to ask him to consider our infirmity, and, according to his paternal indulgence, to spare the tender and the weak: we may even groan under our burden, and desire the termination of our contests; nevertheless, in the meantime, we must beware lest our minds should become relaxed or faint; and rather endeavor, with collected mind and strength, to persist unwearied in the conflict. The reason which the angel assigns, namely, that the day breaketh, is to this effect, that Jacob may now that he has been divinely taught by the nocturnal vision. (108)

I will not let thee go, except. Hence it appears, that at length the holy man knew his antagonist; for this prayer, in which he asks to be blessed, is no common prayer. The inferior is blessed by the greater; and therefore it is the property of God alone to bless us. Truly the father of Jacob did not otherwise bless him, than by divine command, as one who represented the person of God. A similar office also was imposed on the priests under the law, that, as ministers and expositors of divine grace, they might bless the people. Jacob knew, then, that the combatant with whom he had wrestled was God; because he desires a blessing from him, which it was not lawful simply to ask from mortal man. So, in my judgment, ought the place in Hosea (Hosea 12:3) to be understood, Jacob prevailed over the angel, and was strengthened; he wept, and made supplication to him. For the Prophet means, that after Jacob had come off conqueror, he was yet a suppliant before God, and prayed with tears. Moreover, this passage teaches us always to expect the blessing of God, although we may have experienced his presence to be harsh and grievous, even to the disjointing of our members. For it is far better for the sons of God to be blessed, though mutilated and half destroyed, than to desire that peace in which they shall fall asleep, or than they should withdraw themselves from the presence of God, so as to turn away from his command, that they may riot with the wicked.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


“He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except Thou bless me.’

Genesis 32:26

Esau, with all his amiable qualities, was a man whose horizon was bounded by the limitations of the material world. He never rose above earth; he was a man after this world; he lived an eminently natural life. Jacob, on the other hand, was a man of many faults, yet there was a continuous testimony in his life to the value of things unseen. He had had wonderful dealings of God with him, and these had only the effect of whetting his spiritual appetite. When the opportunity came he availed himself of it to the full, and received from the hands of God Himself that blessing for which his soul had been longing. Notice:

I. He was thoroughly in earnest; he wrestled till he got the blessing.

II. If we wish to gain a blessing like Jacob’s we must be alone with God.—It is possible to be alone with God, even in the midst of a multitude.

III. Jacob’s heart was burdened with a load of sin.—It crushed his spirit, it was breaking his heart; he could bear it no more, and so he made supplication. He wanted to be lifted out of his weakness and made a new man.

IV. In the moment of his weakness Jacob made a great discovery.—He found that when we cannot wrestle we can cling; so he wound his arms round the great Angel like a helpless child. He clings around those mighty arms and looks up into his face and says, ‘I will not let thee go except Thou bless me.’

V. He received the blessing he had wrestled for.—As soon as Jacob was brought to his proper place, and in utter weakness was content to accept the blessing of God’s free gift, that moment the blessing came. He received his royalty on the field of battle, was suddenly lifted up into a heavenly kingdom and made a member of a royal family.

Canon Hay Aitken.


(1) ‘The victory came after Jacob was crippled. It was when the disabling touch came, when he felt his utter helplessness, when he could simply cling, that he prevailed. Second, it was a triumph of persistence. Helpless to struggle, he could still cling, and he clung till the blessing was given. The prophet Hosea (Genesis 12:4) says: He strove with the angel and prevailed, he wept and made supplication to him. His words have become the proverbial expression of importunate desire. I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me. So the secret of success in prayer is twofold; on the one hand, to realise our own helpless; and, on the other hand, to hold fast until blessing comes. God lets himself be conquered by the prayer of humble and persevering faith. Very beautifully does Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveller unknown,” sum up the teaching of the story:—

Yield to me now, for I am weak,

But confident in self-despair;

Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,

Be conquered by my instant prayer.’

(2) ‘What was this Divine blessing? Deliverance from Esau? Not at all. That was a secondary thing now. Jacob had learnt that there was a mightier adversary than his brother to dread: that sin incurs more fearful consequences than earthly retribution. Reconciliation with God—that was a far more urgent need with him, and it is a far more urgent need with us, than even reconciliation with a revengeful brother. And he blessed him there—on the spot, that night. The face of God, which his sin had hidden, was now revealed to him: i.e. he had the blessed assurance of forgiveness and acceptance. And without any definite promise of safety he could now go forward, calmly and trustingly, to meet Esau.’

(3) ‘The question has been raised as to whether the story should be treated as an account of a purely spiritual struggle. The answer is twofold. The original narrator did not understand it in that way: he believed in a real, physical wrestling, speaking and laming. But we, for our own learning, may apply the whole in the most spiritual fashion possible, following the lines of F. W. Robertson’s Sermon (First Series, Third Sermon), or drinking in what Dean Stanley properly called Charles Wesley’s “noble hymn”:

Come, O Thou Traveller unknown,

Whom still I hold, but cannot see!

My company before is gone,

And I am left alone with Thee:

With Thee all night I mean to stay,

And wrestle till the break of day.’

(4) ‘There was each morning during his first sojourn in the Soudan one half-hour during which there lay outside General Gordon’s tent a handkerchief; and the whole camp knew the full significance of that small token, and it was most religiously respected by all, whatever was their colour, creed, or business. No foot dared to enter the tent so guarded. No message, however pressing, was carried in. Whatever it was, of life or death, it had to wait until the guardian signal was removed. Every one knew that God and Gordon were alone in there together.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". Church Pulpit Commentary. https: 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Ver. 26. Let me go, &c.] Pugna suum finem, cum rogat hostis, habet. Jacob, though lamed, and hard laid at, will not let Christ go without a blessing: to teach us, as our Saviour did, by the parable of the importunate widow, [Luke 18:1-8] to persevere in prayer, and to devour all discouragements. Jacob holds with his hands, when his joints were out of joint. The woman of Canaan will not be put off, either with silence or sad answers. The importunate widow teacheth us to press God so far, till we put him to the blush, yea, leave a blot in his face (as the word there used signifies, υπωπιαζη, Luke 18:5), unless we be masters of our request. Latimer so plied the throne of grace with his, Once again, once again, restore the gospel to England, that he would have no nay at God’s hands. (a) He many times continued kneeling and knocking so long together, that he was not able to rise without help. His knees were grown hard like camels’ knees, as Eusebius reports of James, the Lord’s brother. Paul "prayed thrice," [2 Corinthians 12:8] that is, often, till he had his desire. Nay, Paulus Aemelius, the Roman general, began to fight against Perses, king of Macedonia, when, as he had sacrificed to his god Hercules and it proved not to his mind, he slew twenty various sacrifices one after another; and would not stop till in the one and twentieth he had descried certain arguments of victory. (b) Surely his superstition shames our indevotion, his importunity our faint heartedness and shortness of spirit. Surely, as painfulness of speaking shows a sick body, so doth irksomeness of praying a sick soul.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Genesis 32:26

Esau, with all his amiable qualities, was a man whose horizon was bounded by the limitations of the material world. He never rose above earth; he was a man after this world; he lived an eminently natural life. Jacob, on the other hand, was a man of many faults, yet there was a continuous testimony in his life to the value of things unseen. He had had wonderful dealings of God with him, and these had only the effect of whetting his spiritual appetite. When the opportunity came he availed himself of it to the full, and received from the hands of God Himself that blessing for which his soul had been longing. Notice:

I. He was thoroughly in earnest; he wrestled till he got the blessing.

II. If we wish to gain a blessing like Jacob's we must be alone with God. It is possible to be alone with God, even in the midst of a multitude.

III. Jacob's heart was burdened with a load of sin. It crushed his spirit, it was breaking his heart; he could bear it no more, and so he made supplication. He wanted to be lifted out of his weakness and made a new man.

IV. In the moment of his weakness Jacob made a great discovery. He found that when we cannot wrestle we can cling; so he wound his arms round the great Angel like a helpless child. He clings around those mighty arms and looks up into His face and says, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me."

V. He received the blessing he had wrestled for. As soon as Jacob was brought to his proper place, and in utter weakness was content to accept the blessing of God's free gift, that moment the blessing came. He received his royalty on the field of battle, was suddenly lifted up into a heavenly kingdom and made a member of a royal family.

W. Hay Aitken, Mission Sermons, 3rd series, p. 38.

Though no vision is vouchsafed to our mortal eyes, yet angels of God are with us oftener than we know, and to the pure heart every home is a Bethel and every path of life a Penuel and a Mahanaim. In the outer world and the inner world do we see and meet continually these messengers of God. There are the angels of youth, and of innocence, and of opportunity; the angels of prayer, and of time, and of death. To those who wrestle with them in faith and prayer they are angels with hands full of immortal gifts; to those who neglect or use them ill they are angels with drawn sword and scathing flame.

I. The earliest angel is the angel of youth. Do not think that you can retain him long. Use, as wise stewards, this blessed portion of your lives. Remember that as your faces are setting into the look which they shall wear in later years, so is it with your lives.

II. Next is the angel of innocent pleasure. Trifle not with this angel. Remember that in heathen mythology the Lord of Pleasure is also the God of Death. Guilty pleasure there is; guilty happiness there is not on earth.

HI. There are the angels of time and opportunity. They are with us now, and we may unclench from their conquered hands garlands of immortal flowers. Hallow each new day in your morning prayer, for prayer, too, is an angel—an angel who can turn "pollution into purity, sinners into penitents, and penitents into saints."

IV. There is one angel with whom we must wrestle whether we will or no, and whose power of curse or blessing we cannot alter—the angel of death.

F. W. Farrar, The Fall of Man and other Sermons, p. 236.

References: Genesis 32:26.—J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 363; I. Burns, Select Remains, p. 87; M. Dix, SermonsDoctrinal and Practical, p. 180; Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 192.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Genesis 32:26. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

SOME have thought that the circumstances here recorded were a mere vision; and others a reality: but they seem to have been neither the one nor the other; but a real transaction under a figurative representation. The “wrestling” was not a corporeal trial of strength between two men, but a spiritual exercise of Jacob with his God under the form of an angel or a man. That it was not a mere man who withstood Jacob, is clear, from his being expressly called “God,” and from his taking upon him offices which none but God could perform [Note: 9, 30.]. And that it was a spiritual, and not a corporeal, exercise on the part of Jacob, is evident, from what the prophet Hosea says respecting it; “By his strength Jacob had power with God; yea, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him [Note: Hosea 12:3-4.].” Such manifestations of God under the angelic or human form were not uncommon in the earlier parts of the Jewish history: and it is generally thought, that the Lord Jesus Christ was the person who assumed these appearances; and that he did so in order to prepare his people for his actual assumption of our nature at the time appointed of the Father. His appearance to Jacob at this time was for the purpose of comforting him under the distressing apprehensions which he felt on account of his brother Esau, who was “coming with four hundred men” to destroy him [Note:, 7.]. Jacob used the best means he could devise to pacify his brother, and to preserve as many as he could of his family, in case a part of them should be slain. But he was not satisfied with any expedients which he could use. He well knew, that none but God could afford him any effectual succour: he therefore “remained alone” all the night, that he might spread his wants and fears before God, and implore help from him. On this occasion God appeared to him in the shape and form of a man, and apparently withstood him till the break of day. Then the person would have departed from him: but Jacob would not suffer him; but held him fast, as it were, saying, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

From these words I shall take occasion to shew,

I. The constituents of acceptable prayer—

These are beautifully displayed in the prayer of Jacob:

1. A renunciation of all dependence on ourselves—

[With this acknowledgment Jacob began his prayer: “O God of my father Abraham, I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servant [Note: 0.].” And such is the feeling that must influence our hearts whensoever we attempt to draw nigh to God. If we think ourselves deserving of the divine favour, not one word can we utter with becoming humility; nor have we the smallest prospect of acceptance with God: “The hungry he will fill with good things; but the rich he will send empty away [Note: Luke 1:53.].” It is “he who humbleth himself, and he alone, that shall ever be exalted.” In this respect the returning prodigal is a pattern for us all. He takes nothing but shame to himself, and casts himself wholly on the mercy of his father. O that there were in us also such a heart! for not the Pharisee who commends himself, but the Publican who smites on his breast and cries for mercy, shall obtain the blessings of grace and glory.]

2. A simple reliance on the promises of God—

[Jacob puts God in remembrance of the promise which had been made to him twenty years before; “Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good [Note: 2.].” And this is the true ground on which alone we can venture to ask any thing of God. He has “given us exceeding great and precious promises [Note: 2 Peter 1:4.],” which he has also “confirmed with an oath, on purpose that we may have consolation” in our souls [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.], and be encouraged to spread before him all our wants. Behold how David laid hold of the promises, and pleaded them before God in prayer: “O Lord God, thou hast promised this goodness to thy servant: do as thou hast spoken; do as thou hast said [Note: 2 Samuel 7:25-29.] ” — — — Again, and again, and again does he in this passage remind God of the promises he had made; and declares, that on them all his prayers, and all his hopes, were founded. In this manner then are we also to come before him; “Put me in remembrance,” says God: “let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified [Note: Isaiah 43:26.].” Are we anxious to obtain the forgiveness of our sins? we should take with us such promises as these; “Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out:” “Though your sins be as crimson, they shall be as white as snow.” Do we want deliverance from some grievous temptation? we should remind the Lord, Hast thou not said, “There shall be no temptation without a way to escape, that thou mayest be able to bear it?” So, whatever our want be, we should take a promise suited to it, (for what trial is there that is not provided for amongst the promises of God?) and plead it, and rest upon it, and expect the accomplishment of it to our souls.]

3. A determination to persevere till we have obtained the desired blessing—

[This is the particular point mentioned in our text. And it is that without which we never can prevail. Jacob, though lamed by his antagonist, still held him fast. And thus must we do also: we must “pray, and not faint.” A parable was delivered by our blessed Lord for the express purpose of teaching us this invaluable lesson [Note: Luke 18:1-8.]. It should be a settled point in our minds, that “God cannot lie,” and “will not deny himself.” He has said, “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” He has not determined any thing indeed with respect to the time or manner of answering our petitions: but answer them he will, in the best manner and the fittest time. He may not grant the particular thing which we ask for, because he may see that the continuance of the trial will answer a more valuable end than the removal of it: but in that case he will give us, as he did to Paul, what is far better [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.] ”. In the confidence of this we should wait for him. “If the vision tarry, still we must wait for it, assured that it will come at last [Note: Habakkuk 2:3.].” And if at any time our soul feel discouraged by the delay, we must chide it, as David did: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God [Note: Psalms 42:11.].” In a word, we must hold fast our blessed Lord, though under the greatest discouragements [Note: Song of Solomon 3:4.], and must say, “I will never let thee go, except thou bless me.”]

Where such prayer is offered up before God, no tongue can tell,

II. The blessings it will bring down into the soul—

It will ensure to us,

1. The effectual care of God’s providence—

[The danger to which Jacob was exposed was imminent: but his prayer averted it, so that the brother whom he feared as an enemy, was turned into a friend. And what interpositions will not persevering prayer, when offered with humility and faith, obtain? It matters not what situation we are in, if God be our God. We may have seas of difficulty in our way; but they shall open before us: we may be destitute of food; but the clouds shall send us bread, and the rocks gush out with water for our use. Even though we were at the bottom of the sea, from thence should our prayers ascend, and thither should they bring to us effectual help. We read of such things in the days of old: but we are ready to think that no such things are to be expected now. But has God ceased to govern the earth? or is he changed in any respect, having “his hand shortened, that he cannot save, or his ear heavy, that he cannot hear?” What if God do not repeat his former miracles now, has he no other way of accomplishing his will, and of fulfilling his gracious promises? If our hairs are all numbered, and not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground without him, shall it be in vain for us to call upon him? No: he is still “a God that heareth prayer:” and “whatsoever we shall ask of him, believing, he will do:” yea, “we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us.”]

2. The yet richer blessings of his grace—

[The new name which God gave to Jacob was a standing memorial of God’s love [Note: 8 with Hosea 12:5.], and a pledge of all that should be necessary for his spiritual welfare. And what will he withhold from us, if we seek him with our whole hearts? Recount all the necessities of your soul: express in words all your wants: and when you have exhausted all the powers of language, stretch out your thoughts to grasp in all the ineffable blessings of his grace; all that the promises of God have engaged; all that the covenant itself contains; and all that an almighty and all-gracious God is able to bestow: and, when you have done this, we will not only assure it all to you, but declare that “he will do for you, not this only, but exceeding abundantly above all that ye can ask or think [Note: Ephesians 3:20.].” However “wide you open your mouth, he will fill it.” Make what attainments ye will, ye shall still find, that “he giveth more grace.” And, whatever difficulties ye may have to encounter, you shall find “that grace sufficient for you.” Only “continue instant in prayer,” and God will give you, not a new name only (for that also will he give, even a name better than of sons and of daughters [Note: Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 62:12; Isaiah 56:5.],) but a new nature also, like unto his own [Note: 2 Peter 1:4.], that shall progressively transform you into his perfect image “in righteousness and true holiness. [Note: Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:18.] ”]

3. The full possession of his glory—

[The answer which God gave to Jacob’s prayer is more fully recorded in a subsequent chapter. There, after declaring plainly who he was, “I am God Almighty,” he promises, “The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee [Note: Genesis 35:11-12.].” This was typical of that better inheritance, to which all the Lord’s Israel are begotten, and for which they are reserved [Note: Hebrews 11:16; 1 Peter 1:3-5.]. And thither shall the prayer of faith carry us: for “God will never leave us, till he has done all for us that he has spoken to us of [Note: Genesis 28:15.],” and brought us to “his presence, where there is fulness of joy, and to his right hand, where there are pleasures for evermore [Note: Psalms 16:11.].” Hear the dying thief preferring his petitions; “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!” And now hear the Saviour’s answer; “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise [Note: Luke 23:42-43.].” Thus he speaks also to all who seek him in humility and faith. It is curious to observe how often, without any apparent necessity, he repeats this promise to us. After saying, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” he repeats no less than four times, “I will raise him up at the last day;” and repeatedly also adds, “He shall have everlasting life; he shall not die; he shall live for ever [Note: John 6:35-58.].” And whence is all this but to assure us, that, “Whatsoever we ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive [Note: Matthew 21:22.] ;” yea, that he will “give us, not to the half, but to the whole, of his kingdom [Note: Mark 6:23.] ?”]

Let me add in conclusion,

1. A word of inquiry—

[What resemblance do we bear to Jacob in this particular? I ask not whether we have ever spent a whole night in prayer, but whether we have ever wrestled with God at all; and whether, on the contrary, our prayers have not for the most part been cold, formal, hypocritical; and whether we have not by the very mode of offering our prayers rather mocked and insulted God, than presented to him any acceptable sacrifice? Say whether there be not too much reason for that complaint, “There is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to lay hold of Thee [Note: Isaiah 64:7.] ?” Dear Brethren, I know nothing which so strongly marks our departure from God as this. To an earthly friend we can go, and tell our complaints, till we have even wearied him with them; and in the prosecution of earthly things we can put forth all the energy of our minds: but when we go to God in prayer, we are straitened, and have scarcely a word to say; and our thoughts rove to the very ends of the earth. The prophet Hosea well describes this: “They have not cried unto me with their heart. They return, but not to the Most High: they are like a deceitful bow [Note: Hosea 7:14; Hosea 7:16.],” which, when it promises to send the arrow to the mark, causes it to fall at our very feet. O let us not fancy that we are of the true Israel, whilst we so little resemble Him whose name we bear, and bear as a memorial of importunity in prayer. The character of the true Israel ever has been, and ever will continue to be, that they are “a people near unto their God [Note: Psalms 148:14.].”]

2. A word of caution—

[On two points we are very liable to err; first, in relation to the fervour that we exercise in prayer; and next, in relation to the confidence that we maintain. Many, because they are ardent in mind, and fluent in expression, imagine that they are offering to God a spiritual service; when, in fact, their devotion is little else than a bodily exercise. “Whoever has made his observations on the way in which both social and public worship is often performed, will have seen abundant cause for this caution. In like manner, the confidence of many savours far more of bold presumption, than of humble affiance. But let it never be forgotten, that tenderness of spirit is absolutely inseparable from a spiritual frame. When our blessed Lord prayed, it was “with strong crying and tears [Note: Hebrews 5:7.]:” and when Jacob wrestled, “he wept, and made supplication.” This then is the state of mind which we must aspire after. Our fervour must be a humble fervour; and our confidence, a humble confidence. And whilst we look to God to accomplish all things for us, we must at the same time use all proper means for the attainment of them. Jacob, though he relied on God to deliver him from his brother s wrath, did not omit to use all prudent precautions, and the most sagacious efforts for the attainment of that end [Note: –8.]. So likewise must we “labour for the meat which the Son of man will give us [Note: John 6:27.],” and “keep ourselves in the love of God [Note: Judges , 1.],” in order to our being “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation [Note: 1 Peter 1:5.].”]

3. A word of encouragement—

[It is said of Jacob, that “God blessed him there [Note: 9.],” even in the very place where he lamed him. Thus shall you also find that your greatest discouragements are only a prelude to your most complete deliverance. To his people of old he said, “Thou shalt go even to Babylon: there shalt thou be delivered: there shall the Lord redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies [Note: Micah 4:10; Jeremiah 30:7.].” Go on, therefore, fully expecting that God will interpose in due season, and that your darkest hours shall be only a prelude to the brighter day [Note: Isaiah 54:7-8; Psalms 30:5.].]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https: 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And he said, Let me go: he saith this, partly to show the prevailing power of his prayer with God, and partly to quicken and encourage Jacob to persist in his conflict. Compare Exodus 32:10 Deuteronomy 9:14.

The day breaketh, and I am not willing that there should be any spectators or witnesses of these things.

Except thou bless me with the blessings which thou hast promised to Abraham and to me, among which one is protection in this hour of my danger. For Jacob now began to think that it was no man, nor ordinary angel, that was with him, but God himself, as he saith, Genesis 32:30.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

26. Let me go — He had power to free himself from Jacob’s grasp as easily as he touched his thigh. But still he accommodates himself to Jacob’s condition and needs, that he may teach a lesson for all ages.

For the day breaketh — Hebrews, the morning ariseth. This is not to be explained as a part of the superstitious notion that spirits perform their earthly ministries in the dark hours of the night, and cannot abide the morning air. The three angels appeared at midday to Abraham.

Genesis 18:1-2. But the rising dawn required that Jacob should be now moving on to look after his family and to meet Esau.

I will not let thee go, except thou bless me — Thus “he wept and made supplication unto him.” Hosea 12:4. It is the language of earnest, persistent prayer.

“Yield to me now, for I am weak,

But confident in self-despair,

Speak to my heart, in blessing speak,

Be conquered by my instant prayer.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 32:26. Let me go — Thus the angel, by an admirable condescension, speaks to Jacob as God did to Moses, Exodus 32:10, Let me alone, and that to show the prevalency of his prayer with God, and also to encourage him to persist in the conflict. For the day breaketh — Therefore he would not any longer detain Jacob, who had business to do, a family to look after, a journey to take. I will not let thee go except thou bless me — He resolves he will have a blessing, and rather shall all his bones be put out of joint than he will suffer the angel to leave him without a blessing. Those who would be blessed by Christ, and have his salvation, must be in good earnest and importunate for it. Reader, art thou so? Dost thou pray and not faint?

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https: 1857.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he said, “Let me go for the day is breaking.” And he said, “I will not let you go except you bless me.”

“The day is breaking.” The exertions that are possible at night become unbearable during the day. God is not thinking of Himself but of Jacob. But Jacob continues to hold on even though crippled and exhausted so that God finally says, ‘Let me go.’ But He says it, not because He wants to be released, but because He knows what Jacob will reply. His purpose in being here is finally to strengthen and bless Jacob.

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob is clinging on because he wants with all his being the blessing of God, not just as a ‘blessing’ but as a life-changing experience. He is deeply aware that he has been face to face with God in the closest of encounters, and now he wants it to impact fully on his future life. He will not rest until he is sure that his future is secure in God’s hands, until God guarantees that future. God has come to him in a deeply personal way and he does not want to rest until he has obtained the full benefit of what God has brought.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

day breaketh. Hebrew dawn hath ascended.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(26) Let me go . . . —Heb., send me away, for the gleam of morning has gone up. The asking of permission to depart was the acknowledgment of defeat. The struggle must end at daybreak, because Jacob must now go to do his duty; and the wrestling had been for the purpose of giving him courage, and enabling him to meet danger and difficulty in the power of faith. A curious Jewish idea is that the angel was that one whose duty it was to defend and protect Esau. By the aid of his own protecting angel Jacob, they say, had overpowered him, and had won the birthright and the precedence as “Israel, a prince with God and man.”

Except thou bless me.—The vanquished must yield the spoil to the victor; and Jacob, who had gradually become aware that the being who was wrestling with him was something more than man, asks of him, as his ransom, a blessing.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
Let me go
Exodus 32:10; Deuteronomy 9:14; Song of Solomon 7:5; Isaiah 45:11; 64:7; Luke 24:28,29
I will not
Song of Solomon 3:4; Hosea 12:4; Luke 18:1-7; Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 12:8,9; Hebrews 5:7
thou bless
1 Chronicles 4:10; Psalms 67:1,6,7; 115:12,13

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Genesis 32:26

"I will not let you go, except you bless me."Genesis 32:26

It is encouraging to the Lord"s people as they are from time to time placed in similar circumstances of trial, exercise, perplexity, sorrow or distress with Jacob, to see the blessed result of his wrestling with the angel. He crosses the ford of Jabbok all weakness; he Revelation -crosses it all strength. He leaves his family, and wrestles alone, a fainting Jacob; he returns to them a prevailing Israel. He goes to the Lord in an agony of doubt and alarm, fearing every moment lest he and all that was dear to him would be swept off from the face of the earth; he returns with the Lord"s blessing in his soul, with the light of the Lord"s countenance lifted up upon him.

And is not this instance recorded for the instruction and consolation of the Lord"s living family? Are they not from time to time in circumstances experimentally which resemble Jacob"s circumstances literally? Have they not similar difficulties and similar necessities? And does not the Lord from time to time raise up in their heart the same faith to lay hold? the same importunity to keep hold? And shall He who gave Jacob such a merciful deliverance—shall He who has recorded in his holy word this remarkable event in Jacob"s life for the edification and instruction of his people in all times—hear Jacob, and not hear them? It is derogatory to the sympathizing "Man of Sorrows;" it is treason against the Majesty of heaven to believe, that a child of God in similar circumstances can go to the Lord in a similar way and not get a similar blessing.

"And he said, I will not let you go, unless you bless me." Genesis 32:26

What a strange intermixture there is in a believing heart of everything to cast down and yet of everything to encourage! How there is everything on the one side to perplex, to confuse, and put the soul to its wits" end, and yet how on the other there is everything to hold up its head, strengthen its faith, support its hope, and encourage it to hold on to the last gasp! Now this is that very trial of faith which is more precious than of gold that perishes, for faith is not a dead, sluggish grace, and is never more active than when it is being tried as with fire. You cannot give up from what you have felt and experienced, for that is the grand evidence, the persuasion that you have the life of God in your soul, and compared with that how worthless and valueless all other things seem to be in your eyes, because to give that up is to give up all your hope.

Here, then, is the grand mystery, to hang and hold on, to hold out, and not allow oneself to be cast away, but the more the Lord would seem to put us away, the more to cling to him. Was not this the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who, so to speak, would not take "No" for an answer? or, like the faith of Ruth , "Entreat me not to leave you?" or, like the faith of Hannah, when "she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord and wept sore?" Does not this faith resemble that of Heman"s, when he cried out, "Will you show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you?" and that of Asaph, when his feet were almost gone, and his steps had well-near slipped?

Thus the more the Lord seems to put us away, the more we cling to him. The viler we are, the more we need his grace; and the very magnitude of our sins only makes us hang more upon his atoning blood and cling more closely to his word and promises as suitable to our case. Nor will anything induce us to give up our hope or relinquish our hold of his mercy.

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Genesis 32:26". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https:

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Saturday, October 24th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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