Rembrandt Harmenszn. van Rijn: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (1659)

(Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany)

This painting shows an episode from Genesis 32:22-32. The main person on the painting is Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebecca. According to the story Jacob used a trick to obtain the blessing of his father which was meant for his older brother Esau. After an exile of 20 years, Jacob returned but was still afraid of Esau's revenge. The night before the meeting of Jacob and Esau, Jacob was confronted by an man and the two wrestled the entire evening. when the morning came, the two stopped fighting and the man revealed that he was an angel (or in other books God). The angel blessed Jacob and gave him the name Israel ("He who struggles with God"). Rembrandt shows the struggle from a different point of view. Jacob has his eyes closed, he is dreaming - the wrestling with the angel/ God, his struggle of fear against hope is an internal struggle. For me the angel/ God is not fighting Jacob but is actually supporting and comforting him. Painting from 1659.