22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.
23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.
26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.
32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Jabbok (v.22) = wrestler (a name probably given to it later in commemoration of the events in this passage)
The events of this passage are referred to in Hosea 12:2-6: The Lord also brings a charge against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his deeds He will recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us—that is, the Lord God of hosts. The Lord is His memorable name. So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.
The passage in Hosea helps to explain this crisis in Jacob’s life. God had a controversy with Israel because of her disobedience. She finds herself faced by great danger: this danger was God’s instrument of discipline for her, and the hand that was wounding her was, in effect, the Divine hand; but instead of clinging with weeping and supplication to that faithful God who would surely have delivered here, she sends for help to Syria and to Egypt. The prophet points back to Jacob, and reminds the nation that he did not act as they now are doing. When God had a controversy with him because of his faulty life; and when as a consequence Jacob found himself in deadly peril and realized that God Himself was behind that peril, and that it was not with Esau his brother that he had to contend, but with the Angel of Jehovah Himself; and when sore broken by that mighty hand he ceased to wrestle and clung with weeping and supplication to the very God that wounded him, then it was he got the victory and the glorious name of Israel. …
It is the broken heart that begins to experience what Divine power means. Better for the sun to rise upon a limping Israel than to set upon a lying Jacob. Jacob, for his misconduct was exiled from the promised land, having nothing but his staff. He returns a wealthy prince, but lamed. So Israel cast out of Jehovah’s land because of her sin will return with abundance, but broken and contrite in spirit. — Williams, page 34.
The King James Version uses the word “halted” for “limped” in v. 31, as does Bultema (below).
“I will assemble her that halteth,” says God in Micah 4:6. God promises great things in the context. Nothing less than a peaceful and converted world. We can make it a rule of prophetic interpretation, however, that when God says glorious things of the nations of the earth, then He must speak in that connection of Israel’s restoration, and thus we find it here. He will think of His halting Jacob, for is He not the God of Jacob? He halted upon his thigh, we read of Jacob in Geneses 32:31-32; and with a direct allusion to that episode in Jacob’s life at Peniel, we read [in Michal 4:6]: I will assemble her that “halteth.” The same verb “tzala” is used and not “pesach” which also means “to limp,” “to halt.” The halting of Jacob that is finally saved will be the elect remnant, but that remnant will at the same time be representing the whole elect nation. A third time does Scripture allude to the halting Jacob of Peniel when it says in Zepheniah 3:19: “I will save her that halteth.” — Bultema, page 62.
After dispatching the droves, Jacob remained behind with his family and the rest of his company to spend the night in the encampment by the river Jabbok, a stream which flows west into the Jordan, entering it about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. They were at first north of the Jabbok, while of course Esau was approaching from the south. — Morris, page 498.
In Jacob’s evaluation, his combatant was more than even an angel. It was none other than the Angel, the pre-incarnate Christ, because, according to Jacob’s testimony, he had “see God face-to-face.”
This experience must, therefore, have been an exceedingly important event in the history of man’s redemption. Jacob, whom God had chosen to be the father of the children of Israel, through whom He would finally come into the world not only in the form of man but as the very Son of Man, was facing the greatest opposition to the accomplishment of his divinely ordered mission. If Esau were to be victorious here, all of God’s plans and promises would be defeated, and the world would never have a Savior.
It was essential that Jacob receive both understanding and assurance concerning the supreme importance of his mission. He must learn clearly, as he began the establishment of that chosen nation, that God was all-sufficient and that he had been prepared by God to accomplish this incomparable task. He must know fully his own weakness, but even more he must know the power of God and his right to claim that power. …
As the day began to break, Jacob was still holding on, refusing to let go until God would give him full and final assurance of permanent blessing. According to Hosea’s commentary, this “wrestling” on Jacob’s part involved weeping and supplication, as well as physical tenacity. Hosea compared Jacob’s holding to the Angel with his tenacity in holding onto his brother’s heel as he was born, both testifying of his great desire to be the recipient of God’s greatest blessings and responsibilities.
When God saw that He could not prevail against Jacob, He finally gave him the blessing he sought. This, of course, does not suggest that God was weaker than Jacob, but does show that God desires men to persist in prayer. …
To remind Jacob perpetually of the experience, the Angel imposed a physical injury on him, which evidently consisted of a slight dislocation of the ball-and-socket joint in the thigh. This would inhibit Jacob from any undue presumption against God, since he would know that God really only allowed him to prevail; but at the same time it would never let him forget that God indeed had promised in this most unique encounter to bless him forever.
Before He pronounced the blessing, the Angel, to show the transition between Jacob’s time of preparation and his time of fulfillment, called attention to his name, Jacob, by asking him to state it. He is no longer to be the “Supplanter,” but the “Prevailer.” The name “Israel,” which Jacob received that night, and which has continued to be the name of his descendants for thirty-seven hundred years, means “One Who Fights Victoriously with God.” It has also been rendered “A Prince with God,” since it is derived from the two words Sarah-El with the word sarah meaning “fight, or rule, as a prince.” It is the word which, in this verse, is translated “as a prince hast thou power.”
Jacob then, after the Angel has asked his name, felt he must also ask the Angel’s name. … The Angel responded by a rhetorical question, “Why do you ask my name?” Jacob already knew who it was. he had been earnestly praying to Jehovah, and Jehovah had answered his prayer …
When the Lord had departed, and the sun had risen, Jacob found he had to limp because of his thigh. This was no mere dream he had experienced, but an actual physical struggle; and he would carry the resulting injury with him as a token of it all of his life. … Because of this, the children of Israel had adopted the practice of not eating that particular muscle (probably the portion of the hindquarter containing the sciatic nerve) when eating meat. God did not command such a practice … but it did indicate the importance of this event in the minds of those who practiced it.
Jacob named the place “Peniel,” meaning “The Face of God.” Jacob marveled greatly that he had actually been allowed to see and touch God, and that he had survived to tell the experience. This would have been utterly impossible, had not God veiled Himself in human form, of course (Exodus 33:20; 1 Timothy 6:16). The name of the place, as given by Jacob, was not forgotten. Though slightly changed in form, to Penuel, it continued to be known by that name until at least the days of the divided kingdom (1 Kings 12:25). — Morris, pages 500-502.