Why Was Jacob’s Name Changed? ~ Genesis 32

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Geography: locate the land of Canaan and Haran


Jacob has been in Haran at his Uncle Laban’s house for 20 years. Jacob now has 2 wives and 11 children. Jacob was nervous about meeting his brother after tricking him years before.

Names are very important in the Bible. Many times parents chose to wait a few days to give their children names. Names were to be a reflection of the person’s character or personality. Jacob’s name meant “Deceiver.” When in a battle, it was a form of surrender to state your name to the opposition.

Main Events of Genesis 32:

Jacob, the Deceiver, was on his way home from Haran. While at Uncle Laban’s house he had acquired great wealth, but was still scared to face his past. He had sent scouts to see if Esau was near. They returned and told him that Esau was going to meet him with 400 men. When he reached the Jabbok River, Jacob sent a huge gift of camels, donkeys, cows and sheep on ahead to Esau in the hopes that it might soften Esau’s heart towards him. Then Jacob decided to send his wives and children over the river to meet Esau and maybe they would soften Esau’s heart as well.

Jacob stayed behind as night fell. A Man appeared and wrestled with Jacob. Jacob wrestled until morning. When the Man saw that Jacob was not going to quit, He touched Jacob’s hip socket and made it fall out of joint. Jacob wrestled on. The Man said, “Let me go!” Jacob, who probably knew by now Who he was wrestling with replied, “Not until You bless me!” The Man asked, “What is your name?” At this point Jacob surrendered. “Jacob.” Deceiver! The Man replied, ” Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel!” (Israel means Prince with God.)

Jacob limped across the river and met Esau first, instead of going behind his family. Esau ran to Jacob and they both wept, kissed, and hugged.

Life Application of Genesis 32:

Jacob was a changed man. He had finally decided to surrender to the Lord. Once he surrendered, then the Lord could bless him. Jacob’s name was changed and it will forever be immortalized as the nation of Israel. What could God do with us if we decided to fully surrender to Him? Maybe we should find out!


Thoughts? Please share!