32:1 So Jacob went on his way and the angels of God 1 met him. 32:2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, 2 “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim. 3
32:3 Jacob sent messengers on ahead 4 to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the region 5 of Edom. 32:4 He commanded them, “This is what you must say to my lord Esau: ‘This is what your servant 6 Jacob says: I have been staying with Laban until now.
1 sn The phrase angels of God occurs only here and in Gen 28:12 in the OT. Jacob saw a vision of angels just before he left the promised land. Now he encounters angels as he prepares to return to it. The text does not give the details of the encounter, but Jacob’s response suggests it was amicable. This location was a spot where heaven made contact with earth, and where God made his presence known to the patriarch. See C. Houtman, “Jacob at Mahanaim: Some Remarks on Genesis XXXII 2-3,” VT 28 (1978): 37-44.
2 tn Heb “and Jacob said when he saw them.”
3 sn The name Mahanaim apparently means “two camps.” Perhaps the two camps were those of God and of Jacob.
4 tn Heb “before him.”
5 tn Heb “field.”
6 sn Your servant. The narrative recounts Jacob’s groveling in fear before Esau as he calls his brother his “lord,” as if to minimize what had been done twenty years ago.