Article -

Jacob, who? Will the real Jacob stand up?

Authors: Jo Milgrom and Yoel Duman

Article Sources:

Genesis  Rabba 68:12
            The Lord once indicted Judah,
            And punished Jacob for his conduct,
            Requited him for his deeds.
            In the womb he tried to supplant his brother;
            Grown to manhood, he strove with a divine being,
            He strove with an angel and prevailed—
            He had to weep and implore him,
            At Bethel [Jacob] would meet him,
            There to commune with him.
Targum Yonatan to Genesis 32:25
Jacob was left alone beyond the Jabbok. And an angel in the form of a man wrestled with him. And he said, "Did you not promise to tithe all that would be yours? Now behold, you have twelve sons and one daughter, and you have not tithed them." Immediately he set aside the four first-born of the four mothers, and there remained eight. And he began to count from Simeon, and Levi happened to be the tenth. Michael spoke up and said, "Master of the world, this one is your lot." It was on account of these things that he tarried beyond the stream until the column of the dawn rose.

 Bereshit Rabba 77:2
And a man wrestled with him until daybreak - R. Huna said, He appeared to him in the form of a shepherd. This one had flocks and that one had flocks, this one had camels and that one had camels. He said to him, Bring yours across and I shall bring mine across. Jacob brought his flock across and then he checked to see whether he had forgotten anything behind. Forthwith: And a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
The rabbis said, He appeared to him in the form of a bandit chief. This one had flocks and that one had flocks, this one had camels and that one had camels. He said to him, Bring mine across and I shall bring yours across. The angel brought our father Jacob`s flock across in a flash, and then Jacob brought some across, came back, and found more to bring across, and came back and found still more to cross over. He said to him, You are a sorcerer…What did he do? He took his finger and stuck it into the ground and the ground began to produce fire. He said to him, From this do you expect to frighten me? The whole of me is made up of such a substance, as is written And the house of Jacob shall be a fire (Obadiah 1:18).

 Rashi on Genesis 32:28
And Jacob was left He had forgotten small bottles and returned for them.
and a man wrestled - Menachem explains: And a man became covered with dust, derived from avak, dust, for they were raising dust with their feet through their  movements. I believe, however, that it is a term meaning that he attached  himself, and it is an Aramaic expression (Sanh. 63b):“After they became attached (דָּאִבִיקוּ) to it,” “and he would tie it (וְאָבִיק לֵיהּ מֵיבַק),” for so is the habit of two people who make strong efforts to throw each other down, that  one embraces the other and attaches himself to him with his arms. Our Rabbis explained that this was the prince (guardian angel) of Esau.
Ramban on Genesis 32:25
And Jacob was left alone - That is, for he had forgotten some small jars, and he returned for them. These are the words of Rashi. But in line with the plain meaning of Scripture, the verse And he took them and made them pass the stream, means that he made them [his family] pass together with him, and he made pass that which was his - [i.e., his camp and his belongings] - by commanding others to do it. He returned, and he commanded that all others pass over the stream before him, and so he remained behind them. 
Rashbam on Genesis 32:25
Jacob was left alone - In other words, he got them all across and there was no one who still had to cross over except him. He wanted to cross over after them intending to flee in another direction so as not to meet up with Esau.
And [an angel] wrestled with him - So as not to allow him to flee, in order that he might see the fulfillment of God`s promise in that Esau would not harm him.

Genesis Rabba 77:3
R. Hama b. R. Hanina said: It was the guardian Prince [angel] of Esau. To this Jacob    alluded when he said to him [Esau]: For to see your face is like seeing the face of God and you have received me favorably (Gen 33:10). This may be     compared to an athlete who was wrestling with a royal prince; lifting up his eyes and seeing the king standing near him, he threw himself down before him. Thus it is written, and he saw that he could not prevail against him (Gen 32:26), which R. Levi interpreted: And he saw through the shechinah  hat he could not prevail against him.
R. Brechiah said: We do not know who was victorious, whether the angel or Jacob.  Since, however, it is written wayye`abeq a man with him (ibid. 25), it  follows: Who was covered with dust (avak)? The man who[strove] with him. 
R. Hanina bar Isaac said: He [Jacob] comes against you wearing five amulets [said  God to the angel]: his own merit, the merit of his father, of his mother, of his grandfather and of his grandmother. Measure thyself--can you stand even against his own merit? This may be illustrated by a king, who had a savage dog and a tame lion. Now the king would take his son and incite him against the lion, so that if the dog should come to attack him, the king could say to him: A lion was powerless against him, yet you would prevail against my son! So if the nations of the world come to join issue with Israel, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will say to them: Your guardian angel could not prevail  against Israel, how much less can you!
He touched the hollow of his thigh: He touched [injured] the righteous men who  would descend from him, viz. the generation of destruction.
Sifrei Behaalotkha 78:11      
And he kissed him - The presence of dots over this word indicates that he did not do so sincerely. R. Simeon b. Yohai says, As a matter of fact, it is perfectly clear that Esau hated Jacob, but at that moment his deepest feelings changed and he kissed hi8m with all his heart.
Bereshit Rabba 78:9
and embraced him His compassion was moved when he saw him prostrate himself  all those times.
and kissed him Heb. וֹיֹשֹקֹהֹוּ. There are dots over the word. There is controversy concerning this matter in a Baraitha of Sifrei. Some interpret the dots to mean that he did not kiss him wholeheartedly. Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai said: It is a well known tradition that Esau hated Jacob, but his compassion was moved at  that time, and he kissed him wholeheartedly