Brooklyn Museum of Art

Jacob wrestles with an angel in this oil painting by Odilon Redon (1840–1916). While on his way south to reconcile with his twin brother Esau in the land of Seir, Jacob struggles in the night with a mysterious stranger. The conflict ends at daybreak when the stranger blesses Jacob, saying, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and men and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). Responding to a recent column by Elie Wiesel on Esau, Jack Miles proposes that Jacob’s wilderness tussle is with Esau, not an angel as is traditionally suggested, and that the encounter dissolves any ill will between the brothers.