It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wrestling at the Edge, Seeing God, a Reflection on Genesis 32:22-31

Jacob had left home because of fear of his brother's retribution. He's not over that fear yet. Returning home, Jacob sent his wives and children on ahead, sent them with everything he owned, but he stayed behind for the night, stayed alone.  But, not alone, after all. A man wrestled with him until daybreak.
Before he enters his homeland again, a man wrestles with him. This image evokes the memory of Jacob and Esau wrestling in the womb. Further, it evokes images of metaphorical wrestling matches--Jacob getting his brother to trade his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup and later tricking his father into giving him the blessing that would have gone to Esau as the elder son. He has also engaged in metaphorical wrestling matches with his father-in-law Laban.

James Kugel reminds us that the name, Jacob, sounds like the Hebrew word for "he struggles." He then points out that although his new name, Israel, can be translated as "God rules," it also could mean "God struggles."

Who is Jacob wrestling with this time? Who has he been wrestling with all along?

When Jacob wrestled Esau's blessing away from Isaac, he then went into exile for a couple of decades. Blessings can carry costs.

We're told in verse 24-25, that a man struggles with Jacob. Yet, in verse 30, Jacob says that he has seen God face to face? Who was he struggling with? Is it possible to wrestle with anyone without that struggle being with God?

How much has Jacob changed because of each of his wrestling matches? He walks away from this match, limping. Will he continue to limp?

How much of this is about the man Israel and how much about the nation Israel? How much is about us?

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