Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Genesis Header
Program Descriptions God Wrestling



Sunday, December 8, 1996 at 6 p.m. (E.T.)
(Check local listings.)

Jacob, a fugitive with a stolen birthright, meets God in his dreams and embarks on a struggle for identity. Twenty years later, he encounters God again on the way to face his brother for the first time since the deception. Bill Moyers says: "The stories of Genesis are about life in the making. They tell us that we can change our lives. Even a scoundrel like Jacob, wandering the desert with fear and trembling, becomes a new man. His dreams make the difference - the first recorded dreams in the Bible. We are told that 'dreaming men are haunted men.' This son of Isaac was haunted right to the 'gateways of heaven.' He awoke, no longer Jacob."

Featuring Walter Brueggemann, Roberta Hestenes, John Kselman, Hugh O'Donnell, Burton L. Visotzky, Renita Weems, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. See Biographies for more information about the participants.

program9
Burton L. Visotzky and Hugh O'Donnell


Audio Tales:

©Duane Michals
Mandy Patinkin
Play: RealAudio

See more information on audio downloads or on obtaining a RealAudio player. For RealAudio, we recommend 2.0 or later.

Singer, performer and actor Mandy Patinkin has lent his voice to the GENESIS television series as a storyteller. You may listen to the actual sound recording of this story either as RealAudio or as a download.
Narrative written by Elizabeth Swados.

Jacob was on the run. He had stolen the blessing from his father meant for Esau, and Esau had vowed to kill him. Now Jacob was alone, at night, and he took a stone and made a pillow on which he could sleep.

And Jacob dreamed he saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven. And the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it. Suddenly God stood right in front of Jacob and spoke to him. "I am with you," God said. "And I will not leave you. You will have land and a nation of people."

When Jacob awoke he was shaken in awe of God. This was a holy place. He took the stones on which he had slept and made a pillar. And he said, "If God does all that God says and provides food for me and future generations, and if I return to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God."

Twenty years passed and Jacob was an older man. He decided to return to the land of his father and to face his brother Esau for the first time since Jacob had tricked him out of his blessing. On the way he heard his brother Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men, and Jacob prayed.

He prayed to God that Esau wouldn't destroy him and his children. Jacob sent his wives and servants to the other side of the river. He stayed alone. It was night. And Jacob wrestled with a stranger until the break of day.

When his adversary couldn't prevail, he wrenched Jacob's hip from its socket.

"Let me go," the man said. "The day is breaking."

And Jacob said, "I won't let you go unless you bless me."

"What is your name?" the stranger asked.

And he answered, "Jacob."

"Your name shall no longer be Jacob. You shall be called Israel. You have wrestled with God and man and have prevailed."

Jacob named the place of the blessing Peniel which means "I have seen God face to face. Yet my life has been saved." But Jacob limped forever after.

As the sun rose Jacob looked up and he saw Esau coming. Esau ran to greet him, and he fell on Jacob's neck and he kissed him. And the brothers wept.

Main MenuProgram DescriptionsNextTop of Page