Some of the most important events in the lives of Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob, and Esau, took place in ancient Jordan.
It is believed to be the place where Jacob stopped during his journey from Mesopotamia to Canaan. They have long been identified with two sites in north-central Jordan: (the eastern and western hills of gold).Jacob had reconciled with his uncle Laban at Mizpah in Gilead, but he still feared his brother Esau as he had stolen his birthright. When Jacob camped at Mahanaim on his way to meet Esau, he was greeted by the angels of God who came to protect him.
In the holy Bible, Genesis 32:30 states, “And Jacob requested, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed Jacob there. So, Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” A massive Bronze and Iron Age temple recently discovered at Pella is thought to be the best-preserved temple from Old Testament times anywhere in the Holy Land. The discovery strongly indicates that Pella is the site of ancient Penuel. Pella, ancient capital of King Archelaus of Macedonia at the end of the 5th century bce and birthplace of Alexander the Great.
Jordan’s biblical city of Peniel, which is referred to as modern-day Pella, is a must-visit destination that is filled with immense history, religion, and cultural experiences. In Islamic times, Pella, then known as Tabaqet Fahl, witnessed a decisive battle between Muslims and Christian Romans.
Note that each of these congregations—those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea—was located in a Gentile city, and in all probability, each congregation’s membership was primarily Gentile. It is quite likely that in each congregation the Jews were a minority.
Recall that the Romans ravaged Jerusalem in AD 70, and its Christians had to flee to Pella to save their lives. It is highly probable that none of these congregations had any communication with any survivor of the first congregation in Jerusalem. All of the apostles except John were dead, and he had been banished to Patmos. This circumstance was far different from the one in which the church was founded.
“So Jacob called the place Penuel, saying ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” — Genesis 32:30
Penuel (modern-day Pella) and Mahanaim, in the northern Jordan Valley where Jacob stopped during his flight from Mesopotamia to Canaan, have traditionally been identified with two sites – Telul ed-Dahab al-Gharbi and Telul ed-Dahab al-Sharqi (the eastern and western hills of gold).
Jacob had reconciled with his uncle, Laban, who had caught up with him at Mizpah in Gilead, but he still feared his brother Esau, whose birthright he had stolen. When Jacob camped at Mahanaim on his way to meet Esau, he was greeted by the angels of God who came to protect him. Nevertheless, a frightened Jacob made the first prayer in the Bible that asks God for personal protection.
Penuel (the face of God) was so named by Jacob after he wrestled there all night with God in the form of a man or angel (Genesis 32:24-30). After Jacob’s struggle with the angel of God, his name was changed to Israel (he who struggles with God). He went on to reconcile with Esau and continued with his family to Canaan to later emerge as the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Esau remained in southern Jordan, where the Bible describes him as the father of the Edomites in the land of Seir (also called Edom).
A massive Bronze and Iron Age temple recently discovered at Pella, is one of the best preserved temples from Old Testament times anywhere in the Holy Land. The discovery strongly indicates that Pella is the site of ancient Penuel.