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This "man" was actually an angel (Hosea 12:4)--in fact, the angel, the preincarnate Christ. Jacob recognized that he had seen God face to face (Genesis 32:30), and this is impossible except through Christ (John 1:18). The intensity of Jacob's prayer as he "wrestled" in his intercession (the word Jabbok means "wrestler;" the river is named for the unique event that occurred there), was such that God actually deigned to appear to him in human form as an antagonist over whom he must prevail for the blessing. As he had held on to Esau's heel at birth, so he now held on to God, so earnest was his desire for God's purpose to be accomplished in and through him.
KJV Defenders Study Bible, by Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
DEF 10 ISBN 0-529-10444-x
DEF 10-1 ISBN 0-529-10445-8