In some kind of divine encounter Jacob receives a hip injury:

NIV Genesis 32: 22During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. 23After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. 24This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27“What is your name?” the man asked.

He replied, “Jacob.”

28“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

29“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.

“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

30Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. 32(Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)

How is this significant?

4 Answers 4


It may have been God's way of preventing Jacob from fathering more than twelve sons.

This study describes in modern medical terms a traumatic hip injury suffered by the Biblical patriarch Jacob approximately 3,500 years ago ... He appears to have sustained neurological injury to his sciatic nerve as well as musculoskeletal damage to his hip.

The structural contributor to sciatica-related sexual dysfunction usually revolves around nerve compression of the cauda equina nerve roots in the central canal, due to spinal stenosis. This process can cause sciatica, but can also affect the viability of the lower sacral nerves, before they exit through their designated neuroforamen. These nerves are responsible for providing many of the anatomical changes associated with sexual response.

Gid hanasheh (Hebrew: גִּיד הַנָּשֶׁה‎‎), often translated as "displaced tendon," is the term for sciatic nerve in Judaism. It may not be eaten by Jews according to Halacha (Jewish Law). The laws of prohibition regarding the gid hanasheh are found in Tractate Chullin (Hullin), chapter 7.

The Zohar teaches us that in every struggle we are powerful, and can overcome our evil urges if we so desire. There is only one place where the lust is so strong that even great men are powerless—the gid hanasheh.

  • While I have accepted this answer it is odd that God chose to go about it in a way with such a significant side effect.
    – Ruminator
    May 1, 2019 at 11:54
  • 1
    I doubt this is the full answer, but this is a really good point. +1
    – Robert
    Feb 1, 2021 at 21:52
  • Exactly. It answers the question and then raises another question!
    – Ruminator
    Feb 4, 2021 at 8:45

~ In part it could be that the Man with whom Jacob was wrestling with was revealing himself to be no ordinary man. It could also be that the Man simply tried to bring the match to a close. However, Jacob was so tenacious that he refused to stop wrestling.

Subsequent to this Jacob may have limped for a few days and then recovered.

*Note I also want to add that this takes place in ch. 32 and 3 chapters later, Jacob goes on to have a son. Benjamin is born.

  • Good point about him having a son after this, (unless it is within nine months, which I didn't check).
    – Ruminator
    Nov 11, 2021 at 1:00

Further possibilities - 1) related to his heal-grabbing name. 2) being nomadic and self-confident, Jacob would now have to depend on God to get around.

  • Hi BigQ and welcome to the site. Normally your answer would be disqualified on the grounds of being too brief and unsupported but they are interesting to consider and you being a newbie I gave you thumbs up. Please, though, take the tour of the site here if you hope to not experience a lot of painful rejection! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Ruminator
    May 21, 2020 at 17:04

In Genesis 32 what is the significance of Jacob's injury?

Perhaps to teach him humility; a constant reminder not to be overly exalted because of his God-given prosperity or for having grappled with an angel.

That was something to keep him lowly, to show that this victory was not in his own strength and that the angel had superior power.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.