"I Have Seen God Face To Face"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

Context: Jacob, continuing the line of those, from Abraham on, who were to fulfill the Patriarchal Covenant with God, when time came to find a wife, left his father's country, the land of Seir, for Haran, the land of Laban, his uncle. Not until after twenty years of labor and trials, having acquired a large family and considerable wealth, was Jacob able to return home. As he neared his father's land, most of which was legally his, he began to fear his brother, Esau, who had sworn vengeance for Jacob's having secured by deception the patriarchal blessing actually intended for Esau. Jacob, therefore, dispatched a present to Esau and at midnight sent his wives and children across the river bounding his homeland, having remained behind himself in order to make supplication for divine protection. All night he wrestled with a man against whom he could not prevail, who, proving to be a visitant from God, blessed Jacob and changed his name to Israel (the Prince of God). Jacob commemorates the event by appropriately naming the place where it occurred:

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

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