3: Biblical excerpt, Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob and the Angel, Hebrew with English translation.
In Act 2, Scene 2, of Part One: Millennium Approaches, Harper and Joe discuss their struggles in life and what they pray for. Joe talks about reading a book of biblical stories when he was a child, and how he was captivated by a picture of Jacob wrestling with the angel from Genesis 32:22-31, when, after spending a night alone while journeying home to Canaan, Jacob encounters an angel who wrestles with him until dawn and who gives him the name “Israel.” Joe says he still dreams about that picture, imagining himself wrestling an angel.
Suggested Activity: Ask students to read the biblical passage about Jacob wrestling with the angel. Then, ask them to read Act 2, Scene 2, out loud. Discuss: why did Kushner include this biblical imagery in his play? What elements of the Torah story does he include in his play? What does he exclude? In the play, Joe Pitt is talking about struggling with both his religious identity as a Mormon and his homosexuality. How does the metaphor of wrestling with an angel speak to each of these struggles?
Source: Genesis 32:22-31, source sheet compiled by Josh Lambert using sefaria.org, 2019.