In Jewish tradition, the Jabbok symbolizes the enigmatic boundary between life and death. The far bank of the river, the locus of Jacob's struggle, is a liminal frontier shrouded in mystery and fear. But it is also a realm of transition and transformation.
The tension builds as the two brothers, accompanied by hundreds of followers, move toward each other: "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Differing regimes of interpretation raise urgent questions for us.
Jacob sends angels to Esau, his brother, in Edom. He gives them a message to deliver: "My lord, Esau, your servant Jacob says, 'I've lingered with Laban as a stranger till now. I've accumulated flocks and servants. Please, my lord, find favor in your eyes.'"