Genesis 28-33: “Surely the Lord Is in This Place” (February 28-March 6)

Jacob was ambitious. His name means “heel-catcher,” which is a metaphor for a supplanter, a person who takes a position or a set of privileges belonging to someone else. His (older) twin brother Esau, whose heel Jacob was holding as they were born, constantly felt that Jacob was claiming rights and blessings belonging to him. “Is not he rightly named Jacob?” he asked, “for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing” (Genesis 27:36).

Later, Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, turned against him as he acquired more and more of Laban’s possessions through a series of deals. When Jacob and his family fled (Genesis 31:17-21), Laban pursued him, thinking Jacob had taken some of his possessions. But they eventually parted on good terms. (See Genesis 31:22-55.)

At about that same time, Jacob also deepened his relationship with God. Anxious about his upcoming reunion with Esau, he spent some time alone and wrestled all night with a man. In the morning, God praised his perseverance and changed his name to Israel. (See Genesis 32:24-28.)

This name has two roots: sarah (שָׂרָה), which means “to persevere” or “to prevail,” and el (אֵל), which means God. The name has been interpreted to mean “he who prevails with God.” But it could also mean “God prevails,” or even “let God prevail.” (See Bible Dictionary: “Israel.”)

President Russell M. Nelson favors that last interpretation:

Jacob wrestled with a serious challenge. His agency was tested. Through this wrestle, Jacob proved what was most important to him. He demonstrated that he was willing to let God prevail in his life. In response, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning “let God prevail.”

Let God Prevail,” General Conference, October 2020

Both Captain Moroni and Mormon took inspiration from Jacob’s prophecy that a remnant of his seed would stay strong while others fell away. Since Lehi was a descendant of Jacob, Moroni saw his people as part of the fulfillment of that prophecy. The Savior also referenced this prophecy when He visited the American continent. (See Alma 46:24-26, 3 Nephi 10:17, 3 Nephi 20:22.)

Here are a few blog posts about Jacob:

Blog Posts: March 1-6


As Jacob prepared to meet his estranged brother the next day, he spent the night alone. The biblical record says that he wrestled with a man all night and persisted even when his thigh was knocked out of joint. At daybreak, he told the man he would not let him go until he received a…


As Jacob followed his parents’ guidance and traveled to Padan-Aram, he stopped for the night at a place called Luz. While he slept, he had a spiritual dream in which he saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder. The Lord Himself stood at the top and reaffirmed to Jacob the promises He had made…

God Remembered Rachel

Rachel was in love. At least, that’s what I infer from the biblical text. We read that Jacob loved Rachel and that he worked seven years for the right to marry her, “and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Genesis 29:20). But after her father tricked Jacob into also marrying…

“Whatsoever God Hath Said Unto Thee, Do.”

It takes faith to act on revelation we have received. It also takes faith to act on revelation received by someone else. When Jacob told Leah and Rachel that an angel had instructed them to move, they responded favorably. As difficult as it might have been to leave their home, they responded, “Whatsoever God hath…

The Sons of Jacob

Jacob had twelve sons. Each of them was unique, with his own strengths and weaknesses. In the Genesis narrative, as each son is born, we learn not only their name but also the significance of the name to Rachel or Leah (Genesis 29:32-35, Genesis 30:1-24, Genesis 35:18). Some of these boys were their literal children,…

The Face of God

After Jacob’s all-night wrestle before God, he named the place “Peniel” (פְּנִיאֵ֑ל), or “Penuel” ( פְנוּאֵל), because, he explained, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). He had seen God in a dream twenty years earlier (Genesis 28:12-15), but this experience must have been more vivid, more real. Like his father Isaac…

2 thoughts on “Genesis 28-33: “Surely the Lord Is in This Place” (February 28-March 6)

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