Genesis 32–33: On Jacob’s Rumbling Reconciliation with Esau and a Main Event Even Better Than WrestleMania III’s (Bible Talk, Ep. 11)

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In Genesis 32–33, Jacob has two life-altering confrontations—one with the angel of God, and one with the adversary of his lifetime: Esau, his brother. What happens in each will surprise you.

In this episode of Bible Talk, Alex Duke chats with Jim Hamilton and Sam Emadi about this turning point of Jacob’s life.

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1:27 / Jacob’s “Escaping Revenge” tour continues in Genesis 32. This time, he’s trying to avoid the revenge of his oldest rival: his brother, Esau.

2:10 / What are we to make of Jacob’s angel “huddle” early in Genesis 32?

4:35 / Jim compares Laban to George Foreman.

5:00 / Alex asks the question, What is Jacob doing!?!? Doesn’t he know that Esau planned to find him and kill him, à la Liam Neeson’s character in Taken?

7:42 / What’s Jacob’s game plan here? I mean, Esau has a squad of 400 men. Is he going to try to pay Esau back or what? (Gen 32:13ff)

11:10 / Jim shows how Jacob’s uncharacteristic prayer to the Lord in Genesis 32:9–12 lies at the heart of the chapter. Sam concurs. He says Genesis 32 is the moment of transformation for Jacob. The trickster is beginning to put his fate in the hands of the Living God. (Sam also makes a funny gaffe here, creating the neologism “lerd” by accidentally combining “Lord’s” + “word.”)

14:45 / Alex points out how Jacob breaks ranks with Abraham and Isaac by encouraging his family to tell the truth to Esau about who they are.

15:14 / In trying to explain how nice a gift is Jacob is giving to Esau, Jim calculates the cost of goats on his calculator.

16:32 / Jacob finds himself embroiled in a wrestling match Alex says is even better than Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. (He should have stopped the wrestling references here but, well, he did not.) Who exactly is Jacob wrestling? Did Jacob win? What does Moses want his readers to take away from this divine ironman match?

24:00 / God changes Jacob’s name to Israel (32:28). Why?

27:50 / Sam explains how Jacob’s summary at the end of Genesis 32—“I’ve seen God face-to-face”—provides perspective for his encounter with Esau. Jacob realizes he needs to fear the Lord, not Esau.

31:24 / Finally, in Genesis 33, Jacob and Esau clash for what seems like the final time. But . . . what happens is surprising.

37:26 / Jim calls what transpires between Jacob and Esau a “reconciliation, kind of.” Where exactly do they leave things after their meeting?

39:02 / Alex makes a siren sound meant to announce the beginning of another Sam Emadi Exodus fever dream. But Jim isn’t buying it.


42:55 / Jim makes a few summary comments about the life of Esau.

45:48 / How can we move from Genesis 32–33 to the gospel? Is it right to simply say, “Just as the Lord wrestled with Jacob, he now wants to wrestle with you?”

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Image credit: This guy’s Reddit account.

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