More history of the life of Jacob is recorded in these two chapters. The events of these chapters were some very difficult times for Jacob whose life experienced many trials.
Genesis 31—Breakup With Laban. This breakup was bound to come, for neither Jacob nor Laban trusted the other and neither were honest with the other. •Prompting of the breakup: three things caused the breakup to finally occur—the conversations of Laban’s sons; the countenance of Laban; and especially the command of God to return to Canaan. •Persuading for the breakup: Jacob convinced his wives to leave Laban. •Parting in the breakup: it was done clandestinely and included Laban’s idols (Rachel had stolen them). •Protesting of the breakup: seen in Laban’s action of chasing Jacob; of charging Jacob with stealing his idols; and of chiding Jacob for leaving clandestinely. •Peace after the breakup: secured through a covenant between Jacob and Laban.
Genesis 32—Burdened About Esau. Coming back to Canaan meant Jacob would come in contact with his brother Esau. This was not an encouraging prospect, for Esau had vowed to kill Jacob because Jacob had stolen, through trickery, the blessing of their father Isaac. So this meeting up again with Esau understandably weighed very heavily upon Jacob’s heart. •Warriors for the meeting: these warriors were the “angels of God” which were an encouragement and a reminder to Jacob of Divine protection. •Warning about the meeting: seen in the regiment of Esau (four hundred armed men were coming to meet Jacob); and in the response of Esau (he did not reply via Jacob’s messengers to Jacob’s message). •Work for the meeting: this involved the partitioning of Jacob’s camp; the praying about the problem; the preparing of a present for Esau; and the passing over the Jabbok River by Jacob’s family. •Wrestling before the meeting: the night before meeting Esau, Jacob had a famous wrestling experience with a “man” who was a theophany of “God” (Genesis 32:30) in the person of Jesus Christ, a preincarnate appearance of Christ no less—Scripture reports the crippling from the wrestling (Jacob’s thigh was injured); the clinging in the wrestling (for a blessing); and the commemorating of the wrestling (Jacob named the place Peniel).
Butler, J. G. (2003). Daily Bible Reading: Synopsis (Vol. 1, p. 11). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.