Peni'el (Heb. Penil', פּנַיאֵל, face of God; Samar. פנו אל; Sept. ειδος θεοῦ; Vulg. Phanuel, and so also the Peshito), the name which Jacob gave to the: place in which he had wrestled with God: "He called the name of the place 'Face of El,' for I have seen Elohim face to face" (Ge 32:30). With that singular correspondence between the two parts of this narrative which has already been noticed under MAHANAIM, there is apparently an allusion to the bestowal of the name in 33:10, where Jacob says to Esau, "I have seen thy face as one sees the face of Elohim." In 32:31, and the other passages in which the name occurs, its form is changed to PENUEL (פנוּאֵל, Penuel', apparently of the same signification). On this change the lexicographers throw no light. It is perhaps not impossible that Penuel was the original form of the name, and that the slight change to Peniel was made by Jacob or by the historian to suit his allusion to the circumstance under which the patriarch first saw it. The Samaritan Pentateuch has Penuel in all. The promontory of the Ras-el-Shukah. on the coast of Syria above Beirfit, was formerly called Theouprosopon, probably a translation of Peniel, or, its Phoenician equivalent. The scene of Jacob's vision was evidently some spot on the north bank of the Jabbok, between that torrent and Succoth (comp. 32:22 with 33:17). This is in exact agreement with the terms of its next occurrence. It does not appear that there was any town or village upon the spot at the time of this wondrous event; but it was probably then marked by some rude cairn or stone to serve as a record of the divine presence. We hear no more of it for five hundred years. After the defeat of the Midianites in the valley of Jezreel, Gideon pursued them to their home in the eastern district. On reaching the fords of the Jordan at Succoth, he asked the people of that city to supply food to his fainting followers; they refused, "and he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise" (Jg 8:8). He probably ascended from the valley of the Jordan through the glen of the Jabbok, which falls into the Jordan a few miles below Succoth. This would bring him direct to the site of Peniel, on which a city appears to have been built in the interval. It was natural, and in accordance with Eastern custom, that a holy place such as Penuel should become the nucleus of a town. In the time of Gideon there was a tower (מגדל) at Peniel, which Gideon destroyed on his return from the conquest of the Midianites. It would seem too that the city was then completely depopulated (ver. 17). It may have remained a ruin till the days of Jeroboam, of whom we read that after taking up his abode in Shechem, he "went out from thence, and built Penuel" (1Ki 12:25). This was done, no doubt, on account of its commanding the fords of Succoth and the road from the east of Jordan to his capital city of Shechem, and also, perhaps, as being an ancient sanctuary. We hear no more of Peniel in Scripture. Josephus merely repeats the Scripture notices (Ant. 1:20, 2; 8:8, 4), as do Eusebius and Jerome (Onomast. s.v. Fanuel). They do not appear to have known the exact site; and, indeed, Jerome represents the Penuel of Jacob, Gideon, and Jeroboam as distinct places.

Bible concordance for PENIEL.

Definition of pen

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.