Jacob wanted to go home as his god had commanded, but. . .his brother Esau still wanted to kill him. Hm. Sticky.
Well, maybe if he killed some servants first his bloodlust would be somewhat satiated. So Jacob sent some servants ahead of him. "Tell Esau that Jacob says he is really sorry and stuff. Better make it convincing!" I'm sure the servants were delighted to bear that message.
They waited where they had camped, and when the messengers came back they told Jacob they had delivered the message.
"What did he say?"
"He's coming here to meet you. He has four hundred dudes with him. Think that's a good sign?"
Jacob immediately split his peeps up into two camps. Pretty good strategy. Jacob is always painted as having devious, clever ideas.
There are a lot of places in the bible where people are careful even though god told them they were going to be fine. Well, god is ever a bit more bombastic than just a 'fine' but you get the idea. I always wonder what this seeming lack of faith means.
Jacob decided to pray while he was waiting. He told god how unworthy he was, and asked him to save him from his brother's wrath.
To sweeten the pot, Jacob selected the best male and female goats, sheep and camels he had, and sent them on ahead with a few servants. He told the servants to tell Esau that the animals were a gift to him from his brother Jacob, who would be following behind.
Here's where it gets weird.
That night Jacob gathered his two wives, their maidservants and his eleven sons and went to cross the fork of the river Jabbok. After he'd sent everyone and everything over the river he stayed on the shore and got down and dirty with some dude. They wrestled until daybreak. The "man" touched Jacob's hip and screwed it up, then called uncle when the dawn came. But Jacob wouldn't let the guy go until he got blessed. So the man told him he should now go by the name Israel, because he had struggled with god and man. Then Jacob asked what the guy's name was he was cryptic, but Jacob did get his blessing.
So Jacob continued on, limping because of the wrestling match. And also, the Israelites don't eat the hips of animals where Jacob was touched by god.
I am pretty confused by this story. Why were they wrestling? Did the spectators take bets? Why didn't the "man" tell Jacob he was god if that's who he was? Hasn't been too shy about owning up until now.
Well, I'll continue my trek through the old testament. In the next exciting chapter we'll find out what Esau says when he sees his brother Jacob.