After sending his servants, wives, and children across the Jobbok river safely, Jacob went back to the camp. He kneeled down in the midst of a clearing and began to pray:
El Shaddai, You are the powerful all-sufficient God of my father Isaac and his father Abraham. Hear me today, I pray. You have brought me this far and blessed me with great favor and increased me. Thank You for all of the ways You have blessed and protected me, Oh Lord.
Please don’t forget Your servant now in the greatest hour of my need. Adonai, forgive Your servant for the lying and foolish ways of my youth. I deceived my father and my brother and deserve whatever punishment You see fit to give. But please, Oh God, do not let my wives and children suffer for my sins. I deserve the name Jacob. . . I am a deceiver, a liar and undeserving of mercy . . .
Jacob lay face down on the ground and wept bitterly over his sin. He was overcome and his body shook with his sobs. All of a sudden, he heard footsteps approaching him. He quickly looked up and wiped his tears.
Before him stood a tall, bearded, muscular man who was only clothed from the waist down and barefoot. He smiled and said, “Stand up, Jacob.”
Jacob was startled at the mention of his name. He did not know this stranger, and yet there was something very familiar about him. He stood up in front of the man and looked him in the eyes. They were blue-green like the sea. Jacob caught the amusement in the stranger’s expression and it set him at ease.
In that instant, Jacob recognized Him and caught his breath, “Adonai?”
The man chuckled, “Disrobe, Jacob.”
He flexed his muscles, stepped back, took a crouching stance, and motioned for Jacob to come at him. Jacob didn’t question Him, but tossed his tunic to the side and crouched in front of his opponent.
He smiled, and Jacob without hesitation, lunged in and they locked arms.
At some point, as they were grappling, it entered Jacob’s mind that he was wrestling with the Creator of the World and the thought made his legs weaken, so he pushed that out quickly.
Jacob’s muscles ached, sweat poured down his brow and his back was slick with it, but he was not going to give up. This was the chance of a lifetime, and he was going to put his whole heart into this match and win the Lord’s favor.
They almost seemed matched in strength, which surprised Jacob. The Lord almost pinned him a number of times, but Jacob managed to wiggle out of His grip each time. Jacob also pinned the Man down a time or two and He escaped as well.
After some time, they were both slick with sweat, covered in dirt, and breathing heavy.
The sky began to lighten, and Jacob continued to stubbornly hold onto his opponent and eventually forced Him down. The Lord then touched Jacob’s hip. Jacob cried out as he felt it go out of the socket. Even as he crashed to the ground, he would not loosen his grip on his Lord.
“Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” Said the Man.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me,” Jacob whispered raggedly.
“What is your name?”
“Your name will no longer be Jacob. From now on you will be called Israel. Because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” Said the Lord.
Jacob let out his breath and released his grip. The Lord stood up.
“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” He replied with a wink and a smile. Then He disappeared.