Esau could not believe his little brother had tricked him a second time! First, Jacob had taken his birthright, all the riches Isaac would have left him. Then Jacob had stolen his blessing, God’s protection for the future. Esau was so angry, he decided to kill his brother.
Rebekah found out about Esau’s plan and warned Jacob. “You will have to go far away. Go and stay with my family,” she told him. Jacob packed his things, quickly said good-bye, then disappeared into the desert.
By the time Esau heard about it, Jacob was long gone. He knew it was useless to try and follow. So Esau stayed with his parents, taking care of them in their old age.
Esau may not have had his father’s blessing, and he may have been foolish enough to trade his birthright for a bowl of stew, but Esau knew it was an honor to take care of his parents as they grew older. Esau would keep the family strong until Jacob returned.
After twenty years in his mother’s land, the day finally came when Jacob thought he should go home. He had two wives, several children and hundreds and hundreds of sheep and goats.
As Jacob came closer and closer to home, he felt more and more nervous about Esau. Would his brother still be angry?
On the night before Esau was to meet Jacob, he felt very small. It was to become a night full of surprises,though, a night Jacob would never forget.
As Jacob stood alone under the stars, worrying and praying, a man came from out of the desert. It was dark and Jacob could not see who the man was. It was not Esau. Whoever it was, the man was very strong and he wrestled with Jacob.
All night long the two grabbed and grappled, rolling in the sand, over and over again, panting and heaving. But neither seemed to win. They were of equal strength. Then the stranger touched the bones in Jacob’s hip, causing one bone to come loose. Jacob hurt from the loose bone.
The strange man said, “Let me go, it will soon be sunrise.”
Then Jacob knew who he was.
“This is no man,” Jacob thought. “It is either an angel or … could it be? It is the Lord God Himself.”
“What is your name?” the stranger asked.
“No, you are no longer Jacob. Your new name is Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men, and you have won,” the stranger said.
“And what is your name, please?” Jacob said.
The stranger did not answer. He blessed Jacob. Suddenly, the stranger was gone and Jacob knew he had seen God face to face. The sky shone pink and gold as Jacob limped back to camp.