First, let's look at the texts (because, as my husband correctly notes, this is a stretch- the wording is not similar).
Text 1- Jacob
Text 2- Moshe
This is very obviously not an exact match or parallel, because the wording is not the same. Elokim is the name of God (or the name that connotes the angel) by Yaakov, whereas Shem Havaya is used by Moshe. But if you look at it beyond the text, not as an exact literary parallel or even as an echo, but as an encounter with an angel that is threatening, it's still very interesting.
|Similarities between the Encounters||Differences between the Encounters|
|*Both Yaakov and Moshe are making their way back to the place they were born from a place where they have stayed-over and acquired a wife (Laban's house/ Yisro's house)|
*Both Yaakov and Moshe have their wives and families with them
*In both scenarios, a threatening angel appears
*In both scenarios, the presence of the angel causes something transformative to occur (Yaakov to Yisrael, uncircumcised child to circumcised child)
*In both scenarios, the original object of the attack (Yaakov/ Moshe) departs with their life
*Per the commentaries, each encounter transpires because the protagonist failed to fulfill his responsibilities. Yaakov did not tithe appropriately and Moshe did not circumcise his child when he stopped over at the hotel.
|*In Yaakov's case, he is left alone with his family safe on the other side of the river; in Moshe's case, his wife and child are with him
*In one scenario, the angel is only struggling with Yaakov; in the other, the angel desires to kill Moshe
* The first transformation takes place because Yaakov requests a blessing; the second transformation takes place because Tzipporah recognizes this angel can only be appeased by the milah taking place
*However, Yaakov's thigh is harmed (Gid HaNasheh)
What I find very interesting is that the major difference between the encounters seems to occur due to who is accompanying the protagonist. In Yaakov's case, where he is left alone, he struggles with the angel and prevails, but not totally unharmed. His thigh is touched; he is changed. From then on, he limps.
In contrast to this, because Moshe's wife was with him when this encounter occurred, he had someone else upon whom to rely, someone to help him face the foe. Tzipporah's quick-thinking and understanding of why the angel had come allowed her to save her husband's life. Moshe departs totally unscathed.
Perhaps this is the idea of an ezer k'negdo in action; when the wife appears with her husband, she is able to save him. When she is not with him, even if it is for a good reason (Yaakov wanted to protect his wives and children and therefore made sure they were all safely in camp before returning to the other side of the river), he does not have his quick-thinking other half to aid him in discerning what the angel wants and how to disarm it.
Why did the angel touch Yaakov's thigh vs any other part of his body?
I haven't researched this, but I wonder if perhaps it is an allusion to (as the commentators say) the promise that Yaakov had not fulfilled to tithe his property. In Genesis 24:9 we read:
|ט וַיָּשֶׂם הָעֶבֶד אֶת-יָדוֹ, תַּחַת יֶרֶךְ אַבְרָהָם אֲדֹנָיו; וַיִּשָּׁבַע לוֹ, עַל-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.||9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.|
We generally understand this to mean that the servant swore on a sacred object (in the same way that we take oaths and swear on the Bible), Avraham's milah.
I wonder if perhaps the angel touching Yaakov's thigh was an allusion to promises made and not kept? (Obviously, this doesn't entirely work, because then it would be more appropriate for the angel to have touched Yaakov's milah rather than his thigh).
What I was thinking, though, was that perhaps if Yaakov's wife had been with him, she would have been able to discern the fact that the angel was there because Yaakov had not fulfilled the tithe, could have informed the angel that they would do it right then and perhaps Yaakov's thigh would not have to be harmed. I don't have textual support for this idea, but just thought it might be interesting.