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Angels and Demons

Everyone has their demons. And everyone has their angels.

There are some that say that when our forefather Jacob wrestled with “beings divine and human” he struggled with his estranged brother Esau. Other suggest he wrestled with Esau’s protecting angel.

Long before this mysterious encounter, Jacob stole the birthright from Esau. At his mother Rebekah’s suggestion, he tricked his father Isaac and took the first-born blessing for himself. Esau then threatened to kill him. Jacob runs.

He has been running for some time. Afraid about the next day’s meeting with his brother he sends his family across the river and instructs his servants to bring gifts to Esau.

“And Jacob was left alone.”

He is alone with his thoughts.

Should I have lied to my father? Why did I trick Esau out of his rightful inheritance?

Regret fills the solitude. It feeds the loneliness.

“A being wrestled with him until the break of dawn.”

Jacob is unable to wrest free from his demons.

The being wrenches his hip. Jacob now limps. Undeterred and even more determined, our forefather insists the being offer him a blessing. He receives a new name.

Jacob becomes Israel. Israel means to wrestle with God. The angel explains, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”

Our identities hinge on wrestling. Our names emerge from our struggles.

Everyone has their demons. Everyone has their angels.

Perhaps they are one and the same.

And now Jacob runs no more.

“Esau runs to greet him. He embraces Jacob, and falling on his neck, he kisses him; and they wept.” (Genesis 32)