ESV Genesis 32:24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

The man damaged Jacob's hip. It seems to me that the man prevailed in the end.

3 Answers 3


The answer to this question is found in the earlier verses of Gen 32:

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

26 But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men, and you have prevailed.”

Note the important transition - Jacob was a self-reliant person who deceived people for his own ends. BUT, when he glimpsed something of the person with whom he struggled (ie, God, vs 28), Jacob would not let his opponent go but held onto Him, begging for a divine blessing.

Jacob came away a different man: he went from self reliant, to dependent on God as symbolized by his crippled hip and needing help to walk. The change of name was also a reminder of this - we needs God's blessing constantly.

Note Barnes comments on Gen 32:28 -

"What is thy name?" He reminds him of his former self, Jacob, the supplanter, the self-reliant, self-seeking. But now he is disabled, dependent on another, and seeking a blessing from another, and for all others as well as himself. No more Jacob shall thy name be called, but Israel - a prince of God, in God, with God. In a personal conflict, depending on thyself, thou wert no match for God. But in prayer, depending on another, thou hast prevailed with God and with men. The new name is indicative of the new nature which has now come to its perfection of development in Jacob. ...

Disclose to me thy nature. This mysterious Being intimates by his reply that Jacob was to learn his nature, so far as he yet required to know it, from the event that had just occurred; and he was well acquainted with his name. And he blessed him there. He had the power of disabling the self-sufficient creature, of upholding that creature when unable to stand, of answering prayer, of conferring a new name, with a new phase of spiritual life, and of blessing with a physical renovation, and with spiritual capacity for being a blessing to mankind. After all this, Jacob could not any longer doubt who he was. There are, then, three acts in this dramatic scene: first, Jacob wrestling with the Omnipresent in the form of a man, in which he is signally defeated; second, Jacob importunately supplicating Yahweh, in which he prevails as a prince of God; third, Jacob receiving the blessing of a new name, a new development of spiritual life, and a new capacity for bodily action.


Jacob finally confessed his true identity (admitting he was a cheater or 'heel-grabber') when confronted by a man (אִישׁ֙) of God (אֱלֹהִ֛ים).

Genesis / Bereishit 32:29 [MT]

[29] And-[he] said, "Your-name shall no longer be called Yaqov, but Yisrael, [since you wrestled with Elohim] and with men, and you triumphed." (וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לֹ֤א יַֽעֲקֹב֙ יֵֽאָמֵ֥ר עוֹד֙ שִׁמְךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים וְעִם־אֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַתּוּכָֽל)

Although Yaqov (יַֽעֲקֹ֥ב) previously lied about his identity to Yitschaq (יִצְחָ֔ק) his human father in [ Genesis 27:18 ] when asked "Who are you my-son?" (מִ֥י אַתָּ֖ה בְּנִֽי), an angel of Elohim tests Yaqov to redeem him for his heavenly Father by revealing his true identity in [ Genesis 32:28 ] : “What is your name?” He replied, “Yaqov.” (מַה־שְּׁמֶ֑ךָ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר יַעֲקֹֽב)

Mah (מַה)

*"What [is]"

Shem-kha (שְּׁמֶ֑ךָ)


Va-Yomer (וַיֹּ֖אמֶר)

*"And-[he] Said"

Yaqov (יַֽעֲקֹֽב)



Yaqov triumphed / "tukal" (תּוּכָֽל) by acknowledging his sins to an angel of Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֛ים). Jacob later received his true inheritance - his soul was saved (תִּנָּצֵ֖ל נַפְשִֽׁי).

  • 1
    I fail to see how telling someone the name that was given to me (by others, at birth) could possibly be considered a 'confession'. And who did Jacob 'cheat' ? God promised 'the elder shall serve the younger'. And Jacob traded a bowl of soup for a despised birthright. Then his mother accepted any curse and assisted him to rightfully access what was rightfully his, from a former generation far too interested in venison and far too disinterested in the promise of God.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 21:25

"prevailed" in this context means that he obtained a blessing, implied in his new name, "Prince/Ruler of God":

[Mic 5:1-9 ESV] (1) Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. (2) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (3) Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. (4) And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. (5) And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; (6) they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances; and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border. (7) Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. (8) And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. (9) Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

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