(נִפתּוּל, Ge 30:8, figuratively; πάλη, Eph 6:12, literally in Ge 22:24,24, the verb is אָבִק, used in a literal sense). This was one of the principal exercises in all the public games of Greece. The Greeks ascribed the invention of wrestling to mythical personages, and Mercurn, the god of all gymnastic exercises, also presided over wrestling. In the Homeric age wrestling was much practiced; during this period wrestlers contended naked, and only the loins were covered with the perizoma (περίζωμα), and this custom probably remained throughout Greece until Ol. 15, from which time even this covering was no longer used, and wrestlers fought entirely naked. In the Homeric age the custom of anointing the body for the purpose of wrestling does not appear to have been known, but in the time of Solon it was quite general, and was said to have been adopted by the Cretans and Lacedamonians at a very early period. After the body was anointed it was strewed over with sand or dust, in order to enable the wrestlers to take a firm hold of each other. The Greeks, in their combats, were generally matched two against two; but sometimes several couples contended at the same time. In case the whole aim and design of the wrestlers was to throw their adversary upon the ground, both strength and art were employed for this purpose; they seized each other by the arms, drew forward, pushed backwards, used many distortions and twistings of the body, locking their limbs in each other's, lifting from the ground, dashing their heads together, and twisting one another's necks. In this manner the athletes wrestled standing, the combat ending with the fall of one of the competitors. SEE GAMES.
Among the ancient Egyptians likewise, according to Wilkinson, "wrestling was a favorite amusement; and the painting of the grottoes at Beni Hassan presents all the varied attitudes and modes of attack and defence of Which it is susceptible. In order to enable the spectator more readily to perceive the position of the limbs of each combatant, the artist has availed himself of a dark and light color, and even ventured to introduce alternately a black and red figure. It is not, however, necessary to give an instance of every position indicated in those varied subjects; and a selection of the principal groups will suffice to convey some idea of their mode of representing the combatants, and of their general system of attack and defence. It is probable that; like the Greeks, they anointed the body with oil when preparing for these exercises, and they were entirely naked, with the exception of a girdle, apparently of leathern thongs. The two combatants generally approached each other holding their arms in an inclined position before the body, and each endeavored to seize his adversary in the manner best suited to his mode of attack. It was allowable to take hold of any part of the body, the head, neck, or legs; and the struggle was frequently continued on the ground, after one or both had fallen, a mode of wrestling common also to the Greeks. I do not find that they had the same sign of acknowledging their defeat in this game as the Greeks, which was by holding up a finger in token of submission; and it was probably done by the Egyptians with a word" (Anc. Egypt. 1:204). SEE SPORT.