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by Wayne Blank
"For I have seen God face to face"
While making his return journey home from his very profitable and productive years spent with his uncle Laban (see Jacob and Laban), Jacob was the last to cross the ford there. During that night, while alone, he experienced one of the most curious, and defining, incidents of Bible History.
"And he rose up that night, and took his two wives [i.e. Rachel and Leah], and his two womenservants [i.e. Bilhah and Zilpah], and his eleven sons [Jacob's twelfth son, Benjamin wasn't born yet - see the "Children of Jacob" link in the Fact Finder question below], and passed over the ford Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh."
Fact Finder: After God changed Jacob's name to Israel, Jacob's physical descendants (see Children of Jacob) became known as the Israelites. What however is the ultimate, and ultimately-intended, meaning of "Israel"?