The Old Testament tells how Jacob tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him the birthright belonging to Esau, his elder brother. Later, at a crisis in his life, Jacob wrestles through the night with an unknown assailant, who restrains him by dislocating his thigh. Here, the angel is supporting Jacob, who has just collapsed. At this moment Jacob realises he has been fighting God. In the morning the angel blesses him for not giving up.
This scultpure has been seen as representing an artist struggling with his materials, as well as the struggles of European Jews during the Second World War.