“The Faces of God” (Panim el Panim) GEN 32:30
Jacob finds himself alone, facing, as he thinks, eminent danger from being slaughtered by his brother Esau, He puts his family in hiding, he sends gifts of cattle to Esau to maybe “soften him up” he might think. Now comes a wrestling match. Jacob is at his wits ends, it is only he and Elohim. Elohim comes to visit him in form of the “Angel of YHVH” the Torah says that he “wrestled with a man all night” and Jacob did not relent, he did not give up the wrestling match until the Angel touched his thigh, thus wounding him. Then comes the interesting part, the Angel gives him a blessing, he changes his name from “Jacob” to “Israel”
From “trickster, deceiver” to “straight to G-d” When we see the name “Yisrael” it can be divided into two parts; “Yasher- El” (straight to G-d) the name “Yisrael” also contains the acronyms of the patriarchs and matriarchs who played a part in forming the nation of Israel; “YI” Yitzchak “S” Sarah “R” Rachel and Riv’kah “AE” Abraham “L” Leah. The gematria for the word “Yisrael” (Yod, Sheen, resh, aleph, lamed) adds up to 541, when we add together 5+4+1 = 10. “10” symbolizes the Torah, it was to the nation of Israel that the 10 Commandments were given as a “wedding contract” or “contract of nationhood”
Israel now says something interesting; “Vayikra Ya’akov shem haMakom Peniel Ki ra’iti Elohim Panim Et Panim” (and Jacob called the name of that place “Peniel” (face of God) for I have seen Elohim “faces to faces”.
What is interesting is that here, the word “face” is used in the singular and in the plural. Peni-el, (face of God) in the ancient paleo-Hebrew letters, the word is symbolized as “mouth, life, action, God, Leader” in gematria, the word “Peniel” adds up to 171, (the unique, one (echad) G-d is perfect) when we add 1+7+1 = 9. “9” is the number of “emet” (truth) and “Yeshua” also has that title.
But “Panim El Panim” (faces to faces) is somewhat strange, or is it? How many faces does God have? Or does he even have a face, since he is “spirit”. In one way, he “has a face” in physical form as the “Angel of YHVH, Jacob saw him, Abraham also saw him. But now “faces?” what could that mean? Here is one idea;
I am sure you can remember as a child, making “funny faces” in the mirror. You might have seen in elementary school, school work papers that have different “faces” and you have to guess what they are. A “sad” face, a “happy” face, an “angry” face, etc. do the “faces” describe the person? Or are “faces” an indication of the person’s internal being? I am sure you can remember your mother or father’s face when you disobeyed or goofed up something, you knew you “were in trouble” just by looking at their face. Just as our parents had their “faces” which illustrated what was going on inside their soul and being, so our Heavenly Father has different attributes, personalities, feelings, attitudes, etc that “could” be compared with “Panim” (faces).
He has the “Panim Rachamim” (faces of Mercy) or “mercies” (endless mercy!”) He has the “face of forgiveness” the “face of longsuffering” the “face of patience” yet the faces of “punishment” “chastisement” “judgement and condemnation” for unrepentant sinners, the faces of “joy” and “wrath” of “happiness and sadness” “approval and disappointment” the face of a “God who listens and responds” the list could go on.
We can just imagine the “face” of God when he sees us doing certain things, both “kosher” and “un-kosher”
If we can imagine his faces, then, we can imagine how he is feeling inside when we are in obedience or disobedience. Another way of seeing “Panim El Panim” is “Faces God Faces” because “El” is one of G-d’s names. (the shortest one)
Can we say that during that night of ordeal, when Jacob wrestled with the “Malach Elohim” he saw the different “faces” of G-d? perhaps he saw in the “Panim Elohim” the future of his descendants, his 12 sons! It is something to think about!