In the moment Yaakov is wrestling a adversary he says: ‘לא אשלחך כי אם ברכתני’, I wondered if there are any commentaries which reads this differently.

I noticed that Rabbi Hirsch connects the root ברך with not only the meaning of blessing, but also of bowing and kneeling.

Is there any way the verse could be understood as: ‘unless you bow down to me?’ I.e. ‘Surrender to me’.

From the context it’s clear that it’s about blessing, but the blessing itself shows us a transformation of Yaakov into ‘someone who overcomes his struggles (Yisrael)’, i.e. overcomes that which had hold him down/had grip on him.

  • The word "birkayim" means "knees". The phrase could read: "...I won't release you, until you bend the knee to me...". Maybe that's Rav Hirsch's idea? – David Kenner Oct 18 '18 at 17:22

I have yet to find anything which ties this notion directly to the "bowing" etymology but here is what I found about the "surrender" idea on Sefaria.

The Bechor Shor writes

אתה באת להזיקני ולא אשלחך עד שתעשה עמי שלום וברכתני ותודה שאני נצוח:

so Yaakov seems to be demanding that the angel concede and admit that Yaakov won.

The Tur HaAroch writes,"

Another explanation of the meaning of כי אם ברכתני, has Yaakov asking for a blessing from the angel, as an acknowledgment that he had prevailed in the struggle. with celestial forces.

The Talmudic use of this verse in Chullin 92a:3 also indicates that the angel cried to Yaakov which would indicate a subservient attitude:

The verse in Hosea states: “He wept, and made supplication to him.” From this verse I do not know who cried to whom. When another verse states: “And he said: Let me go, for the dawn has risen” (Genesis 32:27), you must say that the angel cried to Jacob.

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