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Verse 3

Hosea 12:3 . He took his brother by the heel in the womb From the mentioning of Jacob in the foregoing verse, the prophet takes occasion to put his posterity in mind of the particular favours God had bestowed upon him; partly with a view to encourage them to imitate him in endeavouring to obtain the like blessings, and partly to convince them of their ingratitude and degeneracy from him. His taking his brother by the heel, signified his striving, by a divine instinct, for the birthright and blessing. Even before his birth he reached forth his hand to catch hold of it, as it were, and if possible to prevent his brother. It denoted, also, that he should prevail at last, gain his point, and in process of time become greater than his brother. And this prognostic of his prevalence and superiority was the effect of God’s will and power, and not of Jacob’s, who was not then in a capacity of acting of himself: see note on Genesis 25:26. It is justly observed here, by Bishop Horsley, that his “taking his brother by the heel is not mentioned in disparagement of the patriarch. On the contrary, the whole of these two verses is a commemoration of God’s kindness for the ancestor of the Israelites, on which the prophet founds an animated exhortation to them, to turn to that God from whom they might expect so much favour. By his strength he had power with God, &c. This alludes to his wrestling with the angel, as recorded Genesis 32:0. That bodily strength, wherewith he was endued by God, and enabled to wrestle with this heavenly being, was a token of the strength of his faith, and of the fervency of his spirit in prayer. This is mentioned here by the prophet, as another instance of God’s favour to Jacob. He not only, when an infant in the womb, was enabled to perform the emblematical action just mentioned; but, in his adult age, he was endued with such supernatural strength of mind and body, that he was enabled to continue wrestling till he obtained the blessing. The prophet, in this clause, alludes to those words of his, I will not let thee go except thou bless me; intimating the strength of his faith, and prevalency of his prayers with God. The words, He had power with God, and those that follow, He had power over the angel, are equivalent; and plainly prove that this person, who assumed a human shape, was really God, that is, the Son of God, and the angel of the covenant, by whom all the divine appearances recorded in the Old Testament were performed; the affairs of the church being ordered by him from the beginning. This subject is learnedly handled by Dr. Allix in his Judgment of the Jewish Church, against the Unitarians, chap. 13.-15., by Archbishop Tenison in his Discourses of Idolatry, chap. 14., and by Bishop Bull in his Defence of the Nicene Faith.

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