Vayishlach, perek 32, describes Yaakov's struggle with a "man" who many, including targum Yonasan (:25, :27, :29), explain is actually an angel. In pasuk 27 (as explained by Yonasan), Yaakov seeks a blessing from the angel. Pasuk 30 then reads:

וישאל יעקב ויאמר הגידה נא שמך ויאמר למה זה תשאל לשמי ויברך אתו שם
Yaakov asked, said "tell, please, your name". He said "why will you ask for my name?" and he blessed him there.

Some copies of Yonasan translate the last part as:

ובריך יתה תמן
and he blessed him there

But most of the few copies I've seen (example) have:

ובריך יתה יעקב תמן
and Yaakov blessed him there

Is one (or both) of these clearly an error, or do both have good sources? And if the second one has good sources (or if commentaries explain it, anyway), then how do we understand it?: Why would Yaakov bless this angel, and what did he bless him with?

  • Based on a simple reading on the pesukim, either interpretation could be correct. In pasuk 29 the angel changes Yaakov's name, and in pronoun-heavy pasuk 30 we have these wonderfully ambiguous phrases: וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב, וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה-נָּא שְׁמֶךָ, וַיֹּאמֶר, לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי; וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ, שָׁם. Yaakov asks the angel his name, the angel responds with "why do you ask," and then he blesses him there. Who's he and who's him? It's unclear. (Cont'd)
    – Shmuel
    Dec 11, 2011 at 17:33
  • It could mean that Yaakov returned the favor, and blesses the angel. However, that's sorta odd, since in the next pasuk כִּי-רָאִיתִי אֱלֹהִים פָּנִים אֶל-פָּנִים, which (probably) means that Yaakov realized that the "man" was an angel, and that angels don't need to be blessed. | Alternatively, the phrase "and he blessed him" is from the angel to Yaakov. It could be a summarizing phrase, that the name change was a blessing, or it could be a new blessing. The pasuk is very unclear.
    – Shmuel
    Dec 11, 2011 at 17:39
  • @ShmuelL, yes, and perhaps I should have mentioned the ambiguity inherent in the use of pronouns here (which, incidentally, is present also in the first version I cite of Yonasan) in my question instead of leaving it to the reader to surmise. I won't now: it's fairly clear, and readers can see the comments.
    – msh210
    Dec 11, 2011 at 17:52
  • R' Yishmael blessed Hashem (Berachos 7a), so the fact that Yaakov blessed an angel shouldn't be any more difficult.
    – DonielF
    Oct 9, 2017 at 20:38
  • @DonielF, I didn't raise any difficulty really: I just wanted to know what he blessed him with and why.
    – msh210
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


Birkas Avraham (by R. Avraham Mordechai Albert) suggests that it was in keeping with the idea that "someone who suspects his fellow of a matter that that fellow is not guilty of... he must bless him." Since Yaakov had asked the angel, "Are you a thief or a kidnapper [or: gambler], that you are afraid of the morning [and therefore need to depart]?" (Chullin 91b), which of course wasn't the case, then he had to make it up to him by blessing him.

(He also says that R. Yissachar Dov of Belz has an explanation of this - whether the same or a different one, I can't tell from his phrasing. I'd assume it's in Likkutei Amarim Tehorim on that verse, but I don't have the sefer, and it's not on Hebrewbooks; if anyone else has it, please share.)


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