Jacob had played one-upsmanship with both Esau and Laban, and, won both times. The first time, with Esau, he had won through deceit and conniving. The second time, with Laban, he was starting to learn -- God was in charge. But it was not until Jacob gave credit to God when talking about his wealth that God told him he could return to his own land. On the way, pursued by Laban, he had to face up to Laban, and honestly confront him instead of running away. Before that encounter, God had intervened, warning Laban. Now, out of Laban's territory, Jacob is about to finally have to deal with Esau, whom he cheated out of so much. Again, God intervenes first. First, we read in the first verse of chapter 32 that angels of God met him. He named the place in commemoration of this encounter, but that is all we know about it. He then sends a messenger to his brother announcing his arrival. The messenger returns with the news that his brother is coming to meet him with 400 men. The brother who declared he was going to kill Jacob as soon as their father was dead... with 400 men. God or no God, Jacob is terrified. He divides up his people into two camps, hoping one will survive if and when attacked. AFTER he has done this he finally prays, begging God's help and mercy and acknowledging all the Lord had done for him, and also 'reminding' God of the promise originally given Abraham, then passed down through Isaac to Jacob, that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the sea. In an effort to appease his brother, he sends large groups of livestock on ahead, as a gift. That night Jacob sends all his people and possessions across the Jabbok River and he is left alone. The NIV has a note here which is marvelous. The author was dealing with word play in this scene: Jacob = ya'aqob wrestled = ye'abeq Jabbok = yabboq The NIV note continues with this thought: Jacob had struggled all his life to prevail, first with Esau, then with Laban. Now, as he ws about to reenter Canaan, he was shown that it was with God that he must 'wrestle.' It was God who held his destiny in his hands. Alone that night, he ends up wrestling with a 'man' who turns out to be God. Jacob is used to winning, and so God lets him win. And then, with a touch, disables him. It's quite a lesson. And God blesses Jacob and gives him a new name: Israel. "Israel" means "he struggles with God," -- and Israel has been doing that ever since, too. Jacob limped after that encounter, no longer the man he was before. Humbled before God and yet blessed by God, he still had a lot to learn, but he was on the way. A note here: Jesus told us no man has seen the Father, so we know that Jacob did not wrestle with the Father. Nor was it the Father who appeared to Abraham or Isaac -- or to Adam or Enoch or Noah! These are all considered to be something called 'theophanies', or appearances of Christ before the incarnation.