Lectionary Year A
August 4, 2002
Genesis 32:22-31

IV: Broader Context


This pericope at least hints at the importance of families in Ancient Israel. The same importance continues to be admitted on into Primitive Christianity. Furthermore, the same might be said of the significance of struggles, conflicts, problems, challenges and solutions, resolutions, blessings and conclusions. The very fact that the scheming Jacob, the younger of the twins, was God's chosen instrument reveals, as I Corinthians 1:27-29 states, "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God." Walter Brueggemann cites this passage in his Interpretation Commentary of Genesis as referring to what he terms "The Conflicted Call of God", as God's call to Jacob.


*Marginal notes in the Jerusalem Bible refer to Exodus 4:24-26 where God attacks Moses. However, Zipporah circumcises him, touches Moses' feet with it to declare him to be "a bridegroom of blood to me!"
* In the intertestamental book, The Wisdom of Solomon 10:24, Wisdom has an "arduous struggle" with God and wins over God, "to teach a lesson that piety is stronger than all." *Hosea 12:2-4 tells of Jacob's striving with God.
*Genesis 35:10 reports another time Jacob's name is changed to Israel.
* I Kings 14:31 has Elijah saying of Jacob, "Israel shall be your name".
* II Kings 17:34 does the same thing.
*In Judges 13:17, Menoah wants to know the name of an angel of the Lord so they can honor the angel when the "words come true".
* Also, the Jerusalem Bible notes Exodus 33:20 where God tells Moses, "you cannot see my face; for no one sees my face and lives". So, this story gained some broad acceptance in ancient Israel.


We might suppose the Greek speaking Jews would appreciate hearing such stories as this one of Jacob's wrestling match, how Jacob's name became Israel and why Jews abstained from eating the muscle of the thigh. Explanations that bordered on rational logic spoke their language. They resonated with it.

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