Jacob’s Wrestling and the Jewish Sages Twistings

With whom did Jacob wrestle—a man or Elohim? If with Elohim, the Father or the Son? The Jewish sages say one thing, while Christian biblical experts say something else. What does Scripture actually say? This will be a faith-confirming, gospel supporting read!

Genesis 32:24–32, Jacob Wrestling With the Messenger of YHVH. In verse 24 we read,

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled with a man [Heb. iysh] or heavenly messenger [i.e. Heb malak]. (KJV, see Hosea 12:4)

In the following passages, we see that this man was Elohim. 

You have power with Elohim and with men, and have prevailed. (verse 28, based on the KJV)

… for you have striven with the Divine [Elohim] and with man and have overcome. (verse  28, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach and Chumash)

Then Jacob says that he has “seen [Elohim] face to face” (KJV, CJB and The Soncino Edition Pentateuch, Second Edition). The two standard Orthodox Jewish versions of the Torah, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach and The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, and Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Torah commentary The Pentateuch (by Judaica Press) all read, “For I have seen the Divine face to face.” Here they have translated the Hebrew word Elohim as the Divine (Heb. Elohim panim).

Which translation of the word Elohim is the correct one? Before resorting to human sources to solve this dilemma, does the Word of Elohim itself interpret this passage for us giving it clear light? Most assuredly so. In Hosea 12:2-5 we read,

[YHVH] hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he reward him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had strove with [Elohim]. He strove with an angel [Heb malak or heavenly messenger in many instances referring to YHVH himself, as noted elsewhere in this work] and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication to him; he found him in Beth-El, and there he spoke with us; and [YHVH Elohim] of hosts; [YHVH] is his name. (based on the KJV)

The Stone Edition Tanach renders this passage as follows (starting in verse four):

In the womb he seized his brother’s heal, and with his strength he struggled with [an angel of] God; he struggled with an angel and prevailed; [the angel] wept and beseeched him: ‘In Beth-el He will find us and there He will speak with us.’ HASHEM is the God of Legions; HASHEM is His remembrance. (bracketed supplied word are in the original)

So which translation is correct? The first one indicates Jacob was wrestling with a Heavenly Messenger who was none other than YHVH Elohim, while the second translation is cast in such a light as to imply that Jacob was wrestling with merely an angel. 

Does the word Elohim mean the Divine? It is interesting to note that in the Authorised Version the word Elohim appears 2606 times in the Tanakh. It is translated as God 2346 times, god 244 times and several other words less than five times each (e.g. judge, goddess, great, mighty, angels). As in all cases with a word which can have several meanings, the context of the Scripture passage will determine its meaning and its subsequent translation from the original language into English. The word divine was not Continue reading


The Appearance of Christ or the Messiah in Genesis?

Genesis 16:7–13, Hagar and Ishmael encounter Messenger of YHVH. The first place in Scripture that the term “Angel [Messenger/Malak] of YHVH is used is in Genesis 16:7. Here Hagar flees into the wilderness with her son, Ishmael, escaping from Sarah, her mistress and is resting by a pool of water when the Heavenly Messenger (Hewb. malak) of YHVH suddenly appears to her. He commands her to return to Sarah and then proceeds to pronounce a prophetic blessing upon Ishmael:

10 And the angel of YHVH said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of YHVH said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because YHVH hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

What was Hagar’s response (Gen 16:13)? Christian translations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) record that she believed that she had (incredibly) seen YHVH and lived:

So she named YHVH who had spoken with her El of Seeing, because she said, “Have I really seen the One who sees me [and stayed alive]?” (adapted from the CJB)

Then she called the name of YHVH who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me? (NKJV)

Then she called the name of YHVH who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (NAS)

So she named YHVH who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” (NRSV)

As we can see, the Christian translations give the impression that Hagar actually saw YHVH.

The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash (the modern Orthodox Jewish translation) translates verse 13 in this manner:

And she called the Name of HASHEM Who spoke to her “You are the God of Vision,” for she said, “Could I have seen even here after having seen?”

The Jewish Soncino Edition of the Pentateuch translates it this way:

And she called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, Thou art a God of seeing; for she said: ‘Have I even here seen Him that sees me?’

Nineteenth-century Orthodox Jewish sage Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary translates this verse as follows,

And she called the name of God that spake unto her: Thou art a God of seeing; for she said: Have I then also up to here too looked after anyone who might see me? [sic]

As we can see, modern rabbinic translations of this verse are ambiguous as to whether Hagar had a vision or actually saw YHVH with her natural eyes.

The Targumim translations (Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Scriptures from the pre-Christian era made by Jewish religious officials) translate verse 13 this way,

And she gave thanks before the Lord whose Word spake to her, and thus said, Thou art He who livest and art eternal; who seest, but art not seen! for she said, For, behold, here is revealed the glory of the Shekina of the Lord after a vision. (Targum Jonathan)

And Hagar gave thanks, and prayed in the Name of the Word of the Lord, who had been manifested to her, saying, Blessed be Thou, Eloha, the Living One of all Ages, who hast looked upon my affliction. For she said, Behold, Thou art manifested also unto me, even as Thou wast manifested to Sara my mistress. (Targum Jerusalem)

And she prayed in the Name of the Lord who had spoken with her; and she said: Thou art Eloha, seeing all: for she said, I also have begun to see after that He hath been revealed to me. [14] Therefore she called the name of the well, The well at which appeared the Angel [Malak] of the Covenant. (Targum Onkelos)

These pre-Christian era Jewish translations of this passage are less obscure and ambiguous about what Hagar saw. The first says that “the Word spake to her” through his manifest Presence in a vision; the second speaks of the Word of YHVH manifesting himself to her as to Sarah; the third says that YHVH spoke to her and revealed himself to her through the Messenger [Malak] of the Covenant. 

So what did the Jews believe in the pre-Christian era? Did she have a vision or see a literal Heavenly Messenger? It would appear that they were more open to the latter interpretation than are some modern, post-Christian, Jewish translations.

How do the Jewish rabbinical commentators explain this verse? Rashi, the preeminent Torah commentator of the modern era says she actually saw a messenger or an angel (Rashi: the Torah – Bereishis/Genesis, p. 159). The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash states that an angel or “God’s emissary” spoke to her (p. 73). Hirsch in his commentary claims that Hagar saw an angel (a Messenger or Sent One) (Genesis, p. 289). The ArtScroll Breishis/Genesis commentary also states that YHVH spoke to Hagar through an angel (p. 553).

So these commentaries unanimously agree that a literal Heavenly Messenger visited her, but upon what basis does this Messenger use the first person in pronouncing a blessing upon Ishmael? Here, as in other scriptures where the term “Angel [or Malak] of YHVH” is used, the Jewish sages insist that the Messenger is not YHVH and is not divine, but is only acting as an agent of YHVH and therefore is mandated by divine authority to speak in the first person, as if he were YHVH himself. The Jewish sages have not always had this interpretation—one which seems to have arisen during the Christian era to counteract the Christian concept of the incarnation of deity, and hence the deity of Yeshua the Messiah. Even the venerable Jewish Encyclopedia admits this. The sages of the pre-Christian era viewed this Messenger of YHVH as a manifestation of the Word or Presence of YHVH rather than as simply an angel in the common sense of the word. Many if not most Christian scholars recognize the Angel or Messenger of YHVH to be the Word of Elohim (see John 1:1) who would later be incarnated as Yeshua the Messiah (John 1:14). There is even a Christian theological term for this: a Christophany.


Yeshua Gave the Torah-Law to the Children of Israel

Who was the God of the Old Testament? The Bible proves that Yeshua (Jesus) is the one who led the children of Israel in the pillar of fire and gave them the Torah-law, not Father God as you will learn in this video.



Who is the “Angel of the Lord”?

Exodus 3:2; 13:21; 14:20
The Burning Bush and the Messenger of YHVH

The “Angel” of YHVH In the Pillar of Fire

In Exodus 13:21 we read,

And YHVH went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.

Then in Exodus 14:19 it is written,

And the angel of Elohim, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.

Who is this “Angel” of Elohim (elsewhere he is called “the Angel” of YHVH)? Angel is an unfortunate translation. The Hebrew word for angel is malak and simply means “a heavenly or a human messenger.” Prophetically this word can refer to human messengers such as the one coming in the spirit of Elijah prior to Messiah’s coming, as well as to the Messiah himself (as in “the Messenger/Malak of the covenant” in Malachi 3:1). In Genesis 32:22–30 Jacob wrestles with a man Scripture identifies as the Malak of YHVH (Hosea 12:3–5) and whom Jacob called Elohim (verse 30). This same Individual redeemed Jacob (Gen 48:18) and is identified with the Malak of Elohim … the Elohim of Bethel (31:11 and 13) and appeared to Moses at the burning bush (Exod 3:2). Now he is leading Israel in the wilderness. Again who is he? Continue reading


Jacob’s Prophecy to the Christians (pt 1)

Genesis 46:14 and 16, Jacob’s Prophecy Over Ephraim and Manasseh

While prophesying over Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob crossed his hands over their heads making the symbol of the paleo-Hebrew letter tav  (like the letter t or x in the alphabet), which resembles a cross and in that ancient Hebraic script and pictographically means “sign of the covenant.” Jacob then spoke of the Heavenly Messenger (the Hebrew word malak mistranslated as “angel” in most Bibles) of YHVH (i.e., the preincarnate Yeshua) who had redeemed him from all evil (see Gen 31:11–13). Jacob then prophesied that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would become like “fish in the midst of the land” (literal translation of Gen 48:14–16; see The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach).

In light of this prophetic symbolism, which present day religious group would qualify as having fulfilled Jacob’s prophecy as to who the descendents of Ephraim and Manasseh would be? Which religion on earth uses the fish as their symbol, speaks of a Messenger from YHVH as their Redeemer, and has the sign of the paleo-Hebrew letter tav, which looks like a cross? The Buddhists? The Moslems? The Hindus? Even the Jews? No! Only Christianity fits this enigmatic criteria.

Many Christians are without a doubt the literal descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Those who are not, according to the Apostle Paul, once they come to saving faith in Yeshua in some unique sense become the descendants of Abraham (e.g., Gal 3:7,29). Many of these unsaved descendants of Abraham will recognize Yeshua their Messiah on the day that he returns to Jerusalem (e.g., Zech 12:10).