Lectionary Year A
August 1, 1999
(JFC) A. SUMMARY OF SALIENT FEATURES
We can list the salient features as they appear in the story - Jacob takes
of his household - people and things. He spends the night alone. He
wrestles. He converses with his wrestling partner. His name gets changed
and he gets blessed. He names the place. I still think the "center of
gravity" is the blessing.
The major concerns are the being with whom Jacob
wrestles and the dialogue in which they engage, including questions, those
answered and those remaining unanswered.
A major/minor concern is Jacob's
conversion, someone in PBS' series on Genesis, Bill Moyers moderated and
published, suggests he is evolved rather than converted.
concerns include that Jacob protects his family and household and is alone, it
is at night and the dawn breaks as a signal to conclude the skirmish.
(JFC) B. SMOOTH TRANSLATION
21 The presents passed on before him and he spent that night in the camp. 22
That very night, Jacob got up and sent his wives, his servants and the children
as well as all his possessions over the Jabbok. 23 And he sent them,
therefore, with all his belongings. 24 And Jacob stayed there alone and he
wrestled with someone until dawn. 25 And the opponent discerned that he
could not prevail against Jacob, so he struck Jacob's thigh-joint and
dislocated it. 26 Then Jacob's opponent cried, "Let me go, for the dawn is
breaking." But, Jacob replied, "I'll never let you go until you bless me."
27 Then Jacob asked, "What is your name, anyway?" 28 And he replied, "No
longer shall your name be Jacob, rather it shall be Israel because you have
wrestled with God, and, what's more, you have prevailed." 30 And asked
Jacob, saying, "Why is it you ask my name?" And he blessed him right then
and there. 31 And Jacob called the place Piniel because he had seen God
there face to face and even so God had preserved his life.
(JFC) C. HERMENEUTICAL BRIDGE
This great story reminds me of the struggles in life I have due to multiple
sclerosis. That struggle is similar to those others encounter daily in
their lives, too. We all face pains, problems, difficulties with which we
wrestle all the time. While we think, inevitably of Jesse Ventura,
professional fighter turned Governor, others represent struggles in their
lives, as well. What about Woodie Guthrie's "fighting for unions"? Our
son's college soccer coach died this week of esophageal cancer. We suffer
grief with him and his teammates. Others die day in and day out and leave
families and friends to wrestle through grief.
Then, too, as this pericope climaxes in the blessing, God blesses us
with increasing awareness of divine presence that convinces us we are never
alone. God was there with Jacob. Some of the 8 participants in the PBS
series on Genesis referred to Jacob as duplicitous and wounded even after the
wrestling match had concluded. We remain troubled and challenged always, as
well. God is here and there and everywhere with us, too. God blesses us -
i.e. gives us peace with which to face/wrestle with all challenges, all
pressures, all stresses, all tensions. They are there and so is God.
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