"he had wrestled with God, as the patriarch of old had done"

The Book of Genesis tells how the Hebrew patriarch Jacob encounters a mysterious stranger on his travels to the land of Canaan (see note to p. 31). He and the stranger, who has been interpreted as both God and an angel of the Lord, wrestle with each other until the break of day. When the other realises he cannot overcome Jacob, he begs to be released. Jacob refuses to do this until he has received a blessing, and for this he is named Israel, meaning ‘one that struggled with the divine angel’.