Traditional Jewish text - Genesis 32:22-32 (Jacob's dream/Israel as struggle with God)
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
27 The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
- The text describes Jacob's encounter as wrestling or struggling "with God and with men." What does this mean to you? Have you ever struggled with God or with Judaism? If so, how?
- Jacob asks the man he has wrestled with for a blessing. What do you think is the relationship between struggle and blessing?
- Jacob is changed by his struggle – his hip is injured, and his name is changed to Israel. What role do you think struggling with God/Judaism has in creating/changing who you are?
- Names (Jacob's, the man's, the name of the place) seem to play an important role in this story. Why? What's important about names? What does your name say about who you are?