Introduction: One GoBible volunteer, Shirley Babienco, posts
these lessons on e-Sword modules. (E-Sword is now my primary
electronic Bible program.) Shirley wrote to me a few days
ago to alert me to the advanced age of Jacob. I started
looking at that issue and found that the Bible gives us
enough clues to arrive at the following: when Jacob fled
from his home he was 71 years-old. When he left Laban to
return home he was 91 years-old. We continue our story this
week with a man in his 90s wrestling with God! Let’s jump
into the ring and learn more!

I. Wrestling

A. Read Genesis 32:22-23. We have skipped over the
verses that inform us that Jacob is still afraid
of Esau. Jacob’s strategy is essentially to send
everything he owns, plus his family, ahead of him.
Jacob is leading from behind in the encounter with
Esau. Is Jacob a coward? Or, is this just being

B. Read Genesis 32:9. Who told Jacob to return?

1. Did God intend to punish Jacob? (No. This text
has God saying to Jacob that he should return
“that I may do you good.” Leading from behind
is another failure to trust God.)

C. Read Genesis 32:1-2. What interesting beings met
Jacob earlier on his trip? (Angels meet him!)

1. How can Jacob still doubt God’s protection?

D. Read Genesis 32:24-25. Does Jacob’s failure to
trust God keep him safe from danger? (No. A
stranger attacks him apparently while he is
sleeping. Amazingly, Jacob wrestles him all night
– and neither win! John MacArthur’s commentary
asserts that Jacob is 97 by this time.)

1. If you were Jacob and someone attacked you in
the night, who would you think sent the
attacker? (I would think Esau sent someone to
kill me.)

E. Read Genesis 32:26-28. This tells us that God is
the one who attacked Jacob. What is going on? Why
cannot God defeat Jacob?

1. What is the point of this attack? (Jacob is
afraid. He is not trusting God. When Jacob is
first attacked, I think he believes Esau is
behind this. But, at some point he understands
that God is the attacker because Jacob demands a
blessing of his attacker.)

2. Is God working to increase the faith of Jacob?
Do you find that struggling with God increases
your faith?

3. What does the name change mean? (John
MacArthur’s commentary reports that his name
goes from meaning “deceiver” or “heel catcher”
to “God’s fighter.”)

F. Read Genesis 32:29-31. Do you think Jacob’s limp
has a purpose? (Jacob has a name change and a
battle injury. Both remind him of his encounter
with God. They give him courage.)

II. The Meeting

A. Read Genesis 33:1-3. What has changed in Jacob’s
battle plan? (Those he most wants to keep safe are
still placed in the rear. You can tell how much
you are loved by how far back you are in the
group. What is different now is that “He himself
went on before them.” Jacob is leading from the
front. He shows courage.)

1. Do you think the 400 man army of Esau has
Jacob worried?

B. Read Genesis 33:4. What a meeting! Imagine how
things would have been different if Jacob had
trusted God all along?

1. How many times have you worried about
something bad happening and it never happened?

III. The Disgrace

A. Read Genesis 34:1-4. Shechem is the son of the
local prince. Is he trying to make things right?

B. Read Genesis 34:5. Why do you think that Jacob
held his peace? Is he uncertain about the right
thing to do? (Skip down and read Genesis 34:30. We
can see that Jacob’s situation is complicated.)

1. Is Jacob’s situation complicated only because
he does not trust God to protect his family?

C. Read Genesis 34:6-8. What would you decide to do?

1. Are Hamor and Shechem trying to do the right

2. Are the brothers correct that this is an
outrageous act against their sister? Or, is
this only an “outrageous thing in Israel,” and
they are not in Israel?

3. Read Genesis 28:1. Is intermarrying the right

D. Let’s peek behind the curtains of Hamor’s
thinking. Read Genesis 34:16 and Genesis 34:23.
What is Hamor’s true goal? (Hamor has the
equivalent of a corporate merger in mind. He
thinks that if they merge, then he will own all of
Jacob’s things. We see that Hamor believes that he
can turn a profit from this problem.)

E. Read Genesis 34:13-16. Is it true that Dinah (the
sister) should not marry an uncircumcised man?
(There is a small amount of truth in this.
Circumcision is merely a sign of the problem. The
real problem in intermarriage with pagans, and
circumcision by itself does not cure that.)

F. Read Genesis 34:17. Do you think this is an honest
offer? (I don’t. More important, this “threat”
tells me that Jacob’s sons realize Hamor’s true
motive for this deal.)

G. Read Genesis 34:24-29. What does this tell you
about the character of Jacob’s sons? (They are
worse than Hamor. Hamor may have had the same
goal, but he did not intend to achieve it by
murder and theft.)

H. Read Genesis 34:30. Is this the correct reaction?
(No! Jacob does not condemn the murders or theft.
He is concerned that he and his household “shall
be destroyed.” If he trusted God, he would
know that outcome was not going to happen.)

1. Since Jacob is God’s representative in Canaan,
what does say to the pagans about God? (This
is a horrid situation. God’s representatives
are acting in a completely immoral way. Not
even Jacob is concerned about the evil and how
it reflects on God.)

I. Read Genesis 34:31. Do the sons have a point? Does
this justify what they did? (No. Their sister
would have become a wife. They killed her future

IV. The Return

A. After this terrible incident God decides that it
is best that Jacob not stay in that place, but
return to his ancestral home. Read Genesis 35:1-4.
Why would Jacob command this change now?

1. Is this like cleaning up your act to attend
church? To visit your parents?

2. Why does Jacob merely bury the foreign gods
rather than destroy them? (He is merely hiding
them. If he wanted to get rid of them he would
destroy them or leave them where someone else
would take them.)

B. Read Genesis 35:9 and Genesis 35:16-19. Is Jacob
like us? He takes half-measures about idol
worship, but God blesses him. He is blessed, but
his favorite wife dies in childbirth. (When I look
at this story I see a loving and gracious God.
Jacob is not the man he should be. At the same
time, God does not protect Jacob and Rachel from
all tragedy.)

C. Friend, I feel like we are reading a novel about
God’s special people on earth. God wanted us to
read their story, which includes terrible sins.
What is God teaching us? I think He is teaching us
that we should not grieve over our past sins. At
the same time, we should ask the Holy Spirit to
help us to be better representatives of the Great
God of Heaven. He deserves better from us!

V. Next week: Joseph, Master of Dreams.

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.