Striving With God

In examining the chiastic structure of Genesis 32:24-32 during Sunday school this week, I was excited to see for the first time the role Jacob's new name plays in that structure. The central idea of the above passage is Jacob's name being changed to Israel, bracketed by Jacob's wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, etc.

Here are the central verses, verse 28 being Israel's naming.

And [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
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.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, said he, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

The cool thing here is that the meaning of "Israel" plays into the chiasm's flow. If Israel means either "he strives with God" or "God strives," that double meaning works with the narration.

Initially, Jacob wishes to be blessed, so he "strives with God," refusing to release the man. After he is named, God blesses him, so that now, "God strives" for Israel.