1. A GIFT OF APPEASEMENT
As the narrative proceeds, Jacob suddenly seems no longer so sure... of his inheritance. What happened to his unflinching faith and trust in G-d? This enemy Jacob was preparing to face was unlike anything Jacob had ever encountered.
THIS adversary was Jacob's worst enemy, the greatest threat to HIMSELF, his posterity, the promise of birthright and blessing of inheritance. Neither before nor afterwards did Jacob ever again succumb to such fear and uncertainty.
This was a formidable adversary!
Jacob set about to appease him.
From the fruit of his labor he arranged a most
generous gift.designed to satisfy Esau's greed and pacify his rage. If
the brother would be duly impressed --- hopefully it would buy Jacob not
only time and a cooling of the murderous hatred, but also save the lives
of his family and servantsU.
2. A LONG, DARK NIGHT OF WRESTLING
It had taken all day to put his gift together - droves of the choicest animals - with the same instructions to each of the servants, with the specific admonishment: "And you shall say, 'Moreover - behold, your servant Jacob is behind you.’" Thus he sent the tribute up ahead of himself. Jacob hoped, that afterwards he would be able to safely face Esau, and that Esau would forgive him (lit. lift his face).
Jacob had no inkling that before he would meet with Esau, he would meet first with someone else face to face that long and dark night.
He tried to catch some sleep at first but his dread of next day's meeting with Esau robbed him of it. He got up again and took some more precautionary measures, by moving his whole household across the river Jabbok to the other side. This river was a swift current flowing through a deep and narrow valley; to move his entire camp across, by night, was the endeavor of a desperate man. Acting as a ferryman, standing in the middle of the river, he guided both of his camps across. Following the last crossover he went back to check after remainders.
Separated from his camp on the other side he was now all alone.
The suddenness with which the Scriptures bring the attacker into the narrative implies, that indeed the attack was sudden and unforeseen. Jacob was unprepared for the attacker. Out of the blackness of night, suddenly, a "man" jumped him.
Jacob had no more time to worry, to be afraid or in distress. He had no more time to prepare. He had to fight - now - for his life!
And Jacob wrestled with all his extraordinary