Genesis 32:22-32 and footnotes

So, my back/leg pain is tremendously better. As grateful as I am, I have been thinking that ultimately my back going out might be the first sign of the decline of getting older….that seems somewhat logical yes?

So it was quite a surprise to read the footnotes in my study bible about this story of Jacob wrestling with a stranger and getting his hip put out of joint. “Limping…suggests maturation, both personal and cultural…This “diminished” Jacob is paradoxically more complete.”

How about that? I was thinking of limping as being vulnerable-to-wolves, weak. Instead it might be a sign of growing up, of being whole.

Or both. My “wisdom and maturity” says it is safe to admit that nothing is ever just one thing.

In chapter 33 Jacob reunites (however briefly) with his brother Esau and both survive the experience. In Chapter 34, however, is the sad and terrible tragedy of the rape of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. Even though the footnote talked about Jacob’s limp as a sign of maturity — it may be just a moment. After the meeting with Esau, things seem to keep getting get of joint: He fails to protect his daughter Dinah, Dinah’s brothers take a nasty revenge, the whole family has to move again, and then in Chapter 37 the story of Jacob’s son Joseph starts: and that sort of favoritism is not a sign of maturity and wisdom.

So it seems to me that Jacob’s moment of wholeness was fleeting…. Of course this is the biggest “once over lightly” ever done in bible studies. There’s much meat on these bones that I’m not going into. My only point is that, sadly, is too simple to think that Jacob’s wrestling with the other/angel/God changed him for the better forever. Perhaps he limped from then on, and perhaps at times that limping caused him to remember (re-member, put back together, re-unite) to do God’s will, to listen to God, to look for God’s face in the face of others — even in his enemy. The dreamlike quality of 22-32 is definitely something to consider. Since we live in the “already and not yet” perhaps a dreamlike moment of clarity, one that is marked with a limp, is appropriate for us too.

Happy New Year! For the Glory of God!

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