“The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone. A man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket. Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ There he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.”
That night, Jacob got up and took his two wives, their two servants, his eleven children, and all his possessions as he crossed the River Jabbok, near where they were staying. Jacob stayed on the other side of a stream alone and there he wrestled with ‘a man’ until daybreak. This man is often identified as God, but the text says man. This man could not prevail so he hit Jacob in the hip so that his ‘hip was put out of joint.’ ‘The man’ wanted to go when day broke, but Jacob asked for his blessing. The man blessed Jacob and said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.’ Jacob then asked for his name but he did not get it. Jacob then called this place Peniel, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ Peniel becomes Penuel, a place north of the Jabbok River near the Jordan River.
An interesting comment in the text itself, ‘Therefore to his day, the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.’ This is an attempt to explain the origins of a practice that the biblical authors were familiar with.
We also have the first use of the term Israel. Here is the establishment of the Israelites in Jacob’s struggle with the God/man who could not defeat him before sunrise, just as in many of the other ancient legends. This rich man, who cheated his brother, had children with four different women became the foundation of Israel because he had seen God face to face and could not pronounce his name. Thus Jacob becomes Israel which aptly means struggle with God or God rules. The term Israelites will refer to his descendents. Sometimes they will be called the children of Israel or the people of Israel, and since 1948 the state of Israel. At a certain time, it referred to all the area that was not Judah.