12:3 In the womb he attacked his brother;
in his manly vigor he struggled 1 with God.
he wept and begged for his favor.
and there he spoke with him! 5
1 tn The verb שָׂרָה (sarah) means “to strive, contend” (HALOT 1354 s.v. שׂרה) or “persevere, persist” (BDB 975 s.v. שָׂרָה; see Gen 32:29). Almost all English versions render the verb here in terms of the former: NAB, NASB “contended”; NRSV “strove”; TEV, CEV “fought against.”
2 tc The MT vocalizes the consonantal text וָיָּשַׂר (vayyasar, vav consecutive + Qal preterite 3rd person masculine singular from שׂוּר, sur, “to see”); however, parallelism with שָׂרַה (sarah, “he contended”) in 12:3 suggested that it be vocalized as ויּשׂר (vav consecutive + Qal preterite 3rd person masculine singular from שׂרה [“to strive, contend”]). The latter is followed by almost all English versions here.
3 tn Heb “him”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
5 tc The Leningrad Codex and the Allepo Codex both read 1st person common plural עִמָּנוּ (’immanu, “with us”). The LXX and Peshitta both reflect an alternate Hebrew Vorlage of 3rd person masculine singular עִמוֹ (’imo, “with him”). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT in favor of the Greek and Syriac. The internal evidence of 12:4-5 favors the 3rd person masculine singular reading. It is likely that the 1st person common plural ־נוּ reading on עִמָּנוּ arose due to a misunderstanding of the 3rd person masculine singular ־נוּ suffix on יִמְצָאֶנּוּ (yimtsa’ennu, “he found him”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) which was probably misunderstood as the 1st person common plural suffix: “he found us.” Several English versions follow the LXX and Syriac: “there he spoke with him” (RSV, NAB, NEB, NIV, NJPS, TEV). Others follow the MT: “there he spoke with us” (KJV, NASB, CEV). The Hebrew University Old Testament Project, which tends to preserve the MT whenever possible, adopts the MT reading but gives it only a “C” rating. See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:262-63.