on Genesis 32 :28
Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel - ושראל Yisrael, from שר sar, a prince, or שרה sarah, he ruled as a prince, and אל el, God; or rather from איש ish, a man, (the א aleph being dropped), and ראה raah, he saw, אל el, God; and this corresponds with the name which Jacob imposed on the place, calling it פניאל peniel, the faces of God, or of Elohim, which faces being manifested to him caused him to say, Genesis 32:30, ראיתי אלהים פנים אל פנים raithi Elohim panim el panim, i.e., "I have seen the Elohim faces to faces, (i.e., fully and completely, without any medium), ותנצל נפשי vattinnatsel napshi, and my soul is redeemed." We may learn from this that the redemption of the soul will be the blessed consequence of wrestling by prayer and supplication with God: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." From this time Jacob became a new man; but it was not till after a severe struggle that he got his name, his heart, and his character changed. After this he was no more Jacob the supplanter, but Israel - the man who prevails with God, and sees him face to face.
And hast prevailed - More literally, Thou hast had power with God, and with man thou shalt also prevail. עם אלהים Im Elohim, with the strong God; עם אנשים im anashim, with weak, feeble man. There is a beautiful opposition here between the two words: Seeing thou hast been powerful with the Almighty, surely thou shalt prevail over perishing mortals; as thou hast prevailed with God, thou shalt also prevail with men: God calling the things that were not as though they had already taken place, because the prevalency of this people, the Israelites, by means of the Messiah, who should proceed from them, was already determined in the Divine counsel. He has never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. He who wrestles must prevail.
on Genesis 32 :28
"What is thy name?" He reminds him of his former self, Jacob, the supplanter, the self-reliant, self-seeking. But now he is disabled, dependent on another, and seeking a blessing from another, and for all others as well as himself. No more Jacob shall thy name be called, but Israel - a prince of God, in God, with God. In a personal conflict, depending on thyself, thou wert no match for God. But in prayer, depending on another, thou hast prevailed with God and with men. The new name is indicative of the new nature which has now come to its perfection of development in Jacob. Unlike Abraham, who received his new name once for all, and was never afterward called by the former one, Jacob will hence, be called now by the one and now by the other, as the occasion may serve. For he was called from the womb Genesis 25:23, and both names have a spiritual significance for two different aspects of the child of God, according to the apostle's paradox, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" Philippians 2:12-13. "Tell now thy name."
Disclose to me thy nature. This mysterious Being intimates by his reply that Jacob was to learn his nature, so far as he yet required to know it, from the event that had just occurred; and he was well acquainted with his name. And he blessed him there. He had the power of disabling the self-sufficient creature, of upholding that creature when unable to stand, of answering prayer, of conferring a new name, with a new phase of spiritual life, and of blessing with a physical renovation, and with spiritual capacity for being a blessing to mankind. After all this, Jacob could not any longer doubt who he was. There are, then, three acts in this dramatic scene: first, Jacob wrestling with the Omnipresent in the form of a man, in which he is signally defeated; second, Jacob importunately supplicating Yahweh, in which he prevails as a prince of God; third, Jacob receiving the blessing of a new name, a new development of spiritual life, and a new capacity for bodily action.
on Genesis 32 :28