Biblical Studies Biblical Theology

And He Struggled With the Angel


Since I didn’t want you to think The Unseen Realm was only about Nephilim, I wanted to write about the Trinity as seen in the Old Testament. Last time I looked at the blurring between the Angel of YHWH and YHWH himself in Genesis 22. In this post I’ll look at a few texts that deal with God appearing to Jacob.

He Struggled With the Angel

Genesis 32.24-30 says,

24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When 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. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Read Gen 16.13, where Hagar says something similar after seeing the angel of the Lord. With Jacob’s case, this divine being was physical. He could be touched. He was wrestled with. Hosea confirms this divine identity with Hebrew parallelism.

Hosea 12

Hosea 12.3-4 says,

In the womb he [Jacob] took his brother by the heel,

and in his manhood he strove with God.

wwwwwwwwwwwwHe strove with the angel

wwwwwwwwwwwwand prevailed;

he wept and sought his favor.

He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us—

Hosea describes Jacob’s struggle as one that occurred with God, the same God who appeared to Jacob at Bethel (Gen 35.1).

Jacob’s Blessing

Finally, in Genesis 48.15-16, Jacob blesses his son Joseph and says,

The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,

the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;

The point isn’t that God is an angel, a created being. It’s that this “angel” is YHWH. Some would say that Jacob is speaking about two beings, YHWH and an angel. But the grammar rules otherwise. The Hebrew word for “bless” is singular “telegraphing a tight fusion of the two divine beings on the part of the author. In other words, the writer had a clear opportunity to distinguish the God of Israel from the angel, but instead merges their identities” (140).

If there is only one Yahweh, why does the biblical author fuse him with the Angel? Or why does he leave the text ambiguous? Why not make sure that the reader understands the difference between the two beings? In my next post, we’ll see another confirming sign. 

Previous Posts

The Nephilim

Dividing the Nations

The OT Trinity

Book Review

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And also Heiser’s more condensed version,


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