Genesis 32 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 32 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;

14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,

15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

(32:22) "He ... took his two wives, and his two womenservants."
Jacob has two wives and two concubines, continuing the biblical tradition of polygamy.
Is polygamy OK?
It's not a tradition as his father Isaac didn't have a polygamous marriage.

17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?

18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.

20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.

21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

(32:25) "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint."
Unable to beat Jacob in a fair fight, God dislocates Jacob's leg.
It wasn't a find, this was a wrestling by faith, not by physical strength. As John Gill writes:

besides, such were the promises that this divine Person knew were made to Jacob, and so strong was Jacob's faith at this time in pleading those promises in prayer to God, that he could not do otherwise, consistent with the purposes and promises of God, than suffer himself to be prevailed over by him.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

(32:26-29) "Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."
God begs Jacobs to let him go, but Jacob says, "Not unless you bless me." So God blessed Jacob and Jacob let God go.
John Gill comments:

for by his touching his thigh, and the effect of that, he perceived he was more than a man, even a divine Person, and therefore insisted upon being blessed by him: thus faith in prayer lays hold on God, and will not let him go without leaving the blessing it is pleading for; which shows the great strength of faith, and the efficacy of the prayer of faith with God;

27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

(32:27)"What is thy name?"
Does God know everything?
Gods question is not out of ignorance, but it is asked in order to change the topic to Jacob's name and the new name he will receive.

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

(32:24-32) God changes Jacob's name to Israel to signify that he wrestled with God and won.
(32:28) "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God ... and hast prevailed."
God renames Jacob for the first time. (See 35:10 for the second renaming). God says that Jacob will henceforth be called Israel, but the Bible continues to call him Jacob anyway. And even God himself calls him Jacob in 46:2.
The author of the SAB's definition of a new name is incompatible with Biblical usage. The new name didn't have to replace the old name, as Genesis clearly shows, so we should read “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel” as “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob only, but Israel.” So not just Jacob, but both. And indeed the name Jacob is used after this, but the name Israel more frequently. And the Israelites are names after Israel, not after Jacob.
In chapter 35:10 the name Israel is confirmed, it is God saying to him that his new name is indeed Israel.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

(32:29) "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name."
God refuses to tell Jacob his name. (It's a secret.)
John Gill explains this denial:

which is both a reproof of his curiosity, and a denial of his request; signifying that he had no need to put that question, it was enough for him that he had got the blessing

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

(32:30) "I have seen God face to face."
Jacob saw God face to face and lived.
Has anyone seen God?
Yes, Jacob is an example who has seen God and lived.
On if God can be seen: God cannot be seen as he does not have a physical nature, but his Son has such a nature and can be seen.

31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

(32:32) "Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew ...."
Jews don't eat the sinew of something or other because God messed with Jacob's leg while wrestling with him. (Now that's a good reason!)