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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.

The Jabbok River

"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.

32:6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

32:7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; 32:8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

32:9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham [see also What Did Jesus Christ Say About Abraham?], and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 32:10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 32:11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 32:12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

32:13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; 32:14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, 32:15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. 32:16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

32:17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? 32:18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

32:19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him. 32:20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me." (Genesis 32:3-20 KJV)

"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).

Night Camp With The Moon Shining On The River

"32:21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

32:22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 32:23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

32:25 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.

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.

32:27 And he said unto him, What is thy name?

And he said, Jacob.

32:28 And he said, 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.

32:29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.

And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 32:32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank." (Genesis 32:21-32 KJV)

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.

The Reconciliation Of Jacob and Esau

"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.

33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. 33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee?

And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.

33:6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 33:7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

33:8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?

And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

33:9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

33:10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. 33:11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.

33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.

33:13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. 33:14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

33:15 And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me.

And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.

33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. 33:17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth." (Genesis 33:1-17 KJV)

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.

33:20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel." (Genesis 33:18-20 KJV)

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?
Joshua 22:1-4, Deuteronomy 3:16 and see also the map of the tribal lands in On The Brink Of Civil War

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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).


Copyright © Wayne Blank