Born: c. 2000 B.C.
Best known as: The Biblical patriarch who wrestled with an angel
Jacob enters the Old Testament in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis. He is the brother of Esau, the younger son of Rebecca and Isaac and the grandson of Abraham and Sarah. While Esau wandered off to hunt (a "man of the field"), Jacob stayed put with his parents and tended the sheep. Jacob, though devoted to God, was a bit of a cheater: he conned his brother out of his birthright and got his father's blessing by pretending to be Esau. This deception made Jacob fear that God would allow Esau to come and kill him. During a marathon prayer session, Jacob was visited by a "Man" with whom he wrestled. They wrestled all night, and at one point the Man touched Jacob's hip and it miraculously went out of whack. Jacob realized he was communicating with God and felt rotten about what he'd done in his life. In spite of his flaws, or because of his persistence, Jacob was chosen by God to continue the patriarchal line that became the nation of Israel. Jacob ended up having two wives and twelve children (the roots of the twelve tribes of Israel).
Extra credit: Jacob named the place where the wrestling happened the Peniel ("face of God").
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