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Monday, March 12 2012
Where Jacob Became Israel
Jabbok, from the Hebrew word pronounced yab-boke, was the name given to a stream that flows into the Jordan River from the east, about half-way between the Sea Of Galilee and the Salt Sea (also known as the Dead Sea). The Jabbok originates in the east side of the mountains of Gilead and flows about 70 miles. Shown in the photograph below, the Jabbok River (also known today as the Zarqa River) was where the LORD renamed Jacob as "Israel."
Jacob had just spent over twenty years with his uncle Laban (the brother of his mother Rebekah) in Syria. He left home to escape his brother's lethal wrath after Jacob had repeatedly bested him, first for the birthright (Genesis 25:27-34) and then for the blessing (Genesis 27:1-40; see Pottage). Jacob left the house of Laban after getting the best of him too (Genesis 31:1-21; see Jacob's Ringstreaked, Speckled And Spotted). The big question in Jacob's mind during the return was whether Esau was still violently angry with him, so Jacob attempted to at least materially appease Esau with much of the wealth that he had obtained from Laban.
"32:3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 32:4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 32:5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed"
That night, after sending much of his wealth ahead as a gift to Esau, and dispersing his family as much as possible so that some might survive an attack by Esau, Jacob spent the night alone, camped near the Jabbok River. Alone from humans, but not from the LORD. That very night, in which Jacob wrestled with and saw "God face to face," the LORD changed his name to "Israel" (see The Rock Of The Church to understand who "the LORD God" actually was, and is).
"32:21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
The next day, "Israel" walked out ("limped out," actually i.e. "he halted upon his thigh" because "the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him"), alone, and faced Esau and the "four hundred men with him." To his great relief, Jacob / Israel discovered that Esau had both prospered and become more righteous in his use of lethal force.
"33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 33:2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 33:3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Jacob / Israel then moved on from there, across the Jordan (keeping in mind that the Jabbok flows into the Jordan in that area) to the city of Shechem (in what is today Samaria) and built an altar to the LORD there - using the new name of which both Jacob ("Israel") and the LORD ("the God of Israel") would be known - "Elelohe-Israel" which means "mighty is the God is Israel."
"33:18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. 33:19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.
Fact Finder: Which of the tribes of Israel were allotted their share of the Promised Land east of the Jordan River, which included the Jabbok River where Jacob's name was changed to Israel?
This Day In History, March 12
538: Vitiges, king of the Ostrogoths, ended his siege of Rome.
1470: During the Wars of the Roses, Edward IV defeated the rebel forces at the Battle of Empingham.
1496: Jews were expelled from Syria.
1609: The Bermuda Islands became an English colony.
1664: New Jersey became an English colony, named after Jersey in the Channel Islands of England.
1799: Austria declared war on France.
1814: British troops under Wellington captured Bordeaux in France (Britain put only a small fraction of its military forces into the War of 1812-14 against the U.S.; the bulk of the British army and navy was involved in fighting Napoleon's French Empire in Europe and Africa e.g. British Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over the French fleet at Trafalgar and Wellington's victory at the Battle of Waterloo).
1832: Charles Cunningham Boycott, the Englishman whose name is now synonymous with protest ("boycott"), was born.
1854: Britain and France formulated an alliance with the Ottoman Empire against Russia during the Crimean War (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1879: The British-Zulu War began.
1894: Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time (as its name states, the original formula for Coca-Cola, which was created by a pharmacist for the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Atlanta Georgia, was cocaine and caffeine).
1913: Canberra became the capital of Australia.
1930: Canadian fighter ace Billy Barker was killed in a plane crash near Ottawa, Ontario. Barker was awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting down 54 enemy aircraft during the First World War. Barker was one of the top three fighter aces of the war, which included the famous "Red Baron" of Germany, Baron Manfred von Richthofen (the "Red Baron" was shot down and killed by another Canadian fighter pilot, Arthur Brown of Carleton Place, Ontario, on April 21 1918).
1933: German President Paul von Hindenburg proclaimed that the swastika and German flag be flown together (see also Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!).
1938: German troops marched in to "anschluss" ("connect") Austria, one day after Arthur Seyss-Inquart became the chancellor of Austria.
1940: A treaty ended the Russia-Finland war, with Russia's demands for Finnish territory met.
1945: Anne Frank, the Dutch-Jewish girl who kept a diary of her wartime experiences, died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany at the age of 15 (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1985: The U.S. and the Soviet Union began weapons of mass destruction control talks in Geneva.
1994: The Church of England ordained women as priests for the first time (ironically, with the reigning monarch being "The Supreme Governor of The Church of England, the head of the Church of England was a woman - Queen Elizabeth II).