Jacob and the angel

From Chris Ambidge, this image — by Léon Bonnat (1876) — of Jacob wrestling the angel:


If you don’t know the story, the work looks decidedly homoerotic. Glutes in fur.

The background, from Wikipedia:

The account of Jacob wrestling with the angel is a story found in the Book of Genesis, and referenced elsewhere such as Genesis 35:1-7 and Hosea chapter 12. The account includes the renaming of Jacob as “Israel”, literally “He who struggles with God.”

The being with which Jacob wrestles is variously described as an angel, a man, or God. Some would see here different source texts, while other readings attribute the different descriptions to the fluid language of myth. In any case, the being says his name is the same as where the fight takes place, which Jacob names Peniel or Penuel or Phanuel. [Genesis 32:29-30] The event occurs during Jacob’s journey back to Canaan.

The Masoretic text reads as follows:

The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh. —Genesis 32:22-32

The scene has been drawn or painted or sculpted hundreds of times. Sometimes the angel is masculine, sometimes (as in Rembrandt’s version, below) feminine:


One Response to “Jacob and the angel”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Aric Olnes on Facebook:

    Hmm. A man on man encounter that leaves one of them limping but joyously enraptured by his encounter with a god like body. Sounds hot!

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