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In the Hebrew Bible, Penuel (or Pniel, Pnuel; Hebrew פְּנוּאֵל) is a place not far from Succoth, on the east of the Jordan River and north of the river Jabbok. It is also called Peniel "Face of God" by Jacob:
- "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." (Gen. 32:30 NIV)
Here Jacob wrestled (Gen. 32:24-32) "with a man" ("the angel", Hos. 12:4) "till the break of day." This episode resulted in God (or the angel) changing Jacob's name to "Israel" (Gen. 32:28) which literally means, "He who struggles with God."
A town was afterward built there (Judg. 8:8; 1 Kings 12:25). The men of this place refused to give bread to Gideon and his 300 men when they were in pursuit of the Midianites (Judg. 8:1-21). On his return, Gideon tore down the tower there and killed all the men of the city.
When the Northern Kingdom of Israel broke away from the United Monarchy c. 930 BCE, Jeroboam, its first king, established his capital in Shechem. A short time later, he left Shechem and fortified Penuel, declaring it as his new capital (I Kings 12:25). He and his son, Nadab, ruled there, until Baasha seized the throne in 909 BCE and moved the capital to Tirzah (I Kings 15:25-34).
Pnuel is a common name given to males in the Assyrian culture.
Penuel vs. Pniel
Two categories of spellings exists, the i-type Pniel and Peniel and the u-type Pnuel, Penuel and Pnuël. The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia prints the i-type פְּנִיאֵל for Pniel. The u-type is only a minor textual variant written as פנואל for Pnuel in the critical apparatus. It appears only in (the Samaritan Pentateuch), σ´ (Symmachus), (the Peshitta) and (the Latin Vulgate).
Therefore translations like the Luther Bible write Pnuël as being directly translated from the Vulgate. So does the KJV, the ESV and the Elberfelder Bibel. But translations like the NIV, the NIrV and the Schlachter 2000 write Peniel or Pniel.
- Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 1997, page 53