And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob's hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him. And he (the angel) said, "Let me go, for dawn is breaking," but he (Jacob) said, "I will not let you go unless you have blessed me." (Genesis 32: 25-27)

This painting captures the Divine struggle between the forces of light and darkness as Jacob encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau. Their confrontation is framed on one side by a golden angel with wings, and on the other by a dark figure with a sword. As well, there are suggested figures indicating different time frames in the night-long encounter. In the center, the darkness of the night is illuminated by rays of sunlight, showing that the man “wrestled with him until the break of dawn.”

Rashi explains that the man who wrestled with Jacob until daybreak was Esau’s guardian angel. The Hebrew word for wrestle, yaavak, comes from the root word avak, dust. We can feel the movement in paint capturing the opposing forces of light and dark, as the dust of the confrontation flies heavenward. The energetic feeling of their struggle is tempered by a sense of calm as Jacob emerges victorious, vanquishing the supernal creature who bestows on him the name Israel, which means “he who prevails over the Divine.”