Israel (hebrew Insight)

HiResWhen we look at the names of Biblical characters in Hebrew we see the things that cannot be seen in translation. Take for example, the story of Jacob being transformed into Israel.

Jacob’s name in Hebrew (יַעֲקב YAKoV) was connected with the word for “heel” (עָקֵב AKeV) . You remember that when baby Esau first came out, the midwife could not believe her eyes: his sibling brother was holding Esau by his heel not willing to let him go! Seeing their child grasping his brother by the heel Rebecca and Isaac called him – Yakov (Jacob).

Jacob’s birth defined his life until another event of even greater significance – his personal encounter with a very special messenger. He is known in the Bible as the Angel of the LORD (Gen.32).

Just like at his birth, now too Jacob held on rather hard to someone! This time not to his older brother, but to the Angel of the LORD himself. Jacob demanded that he would finally be granted something that he was not given as a child – the mighty blessing he so greatly valued and passionately desired. Seeing Jacob’s persistence and utmost commitment, the Angel of the LORD granted Jacob his request by blessings him.

To show that there has been a real change in Jacob’s life. The Angel of the LORD gave Jacob a completely new name – יִשְׂרָאֵל  Yisra’el  (Israel). They key to understanding this is hidden in this names original Hebrew meaning. The Word יִשְׂרָאֵל  yiSRaEL is related to the verb לִשְׂרות Lisrot which in Biblical Hebrew means to struggle, to strive, to exercise influence, in this context, with God Himself! (Gen.32:30) So important was this event in world history that the nation descending from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was named after this particular encounter. These decedents will be forever known as the People of Israel, the People that Struggle with God.

© Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. All rights reserved.

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  1. U. Haller

    There is an opinion too that the word ישראל is not related to the verb שרה but to שרר (“to rule, be strong, have authority over”), thereby making the name mean “God rules” or “God judges”, cf Rashi: כי אם בשררה “but rather, through authority”.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, liSHROR is of course a possibility, but it has an extra Resh in the root, so I think even though Rashi may have thought that it is less likely that that is so.

  2. Edelmiro Zuniga

    I like to add alittle bit off the subject but yet gives confirmation to the authority of a messenger(Angel of the Lord,Michael the archangel,ect.ect, in Jude 1:9 Michael was sent by God himself to fetch the body of Moses, but Satan had a problem with that but Michael would accomplish his mission because of the authority granted him by God himself.Now as far as rebuking Satan that authority he didn’t have that’s why he(Michael) told Satan the “Lord rebuke you”it’s clear to me that the messengers have specific missions once those missions r fulfilled their given authority is finished until the next assignment.

  3. Edelmiro Zuniga

    Yes Jacob was daring but I believe that contrary to what one mentioned earlier in a posted comment is wrong about that the Angel of the Lord didn’t have the authority to grant what he spoke forth to Jacob and that his name would be changed later.Whoever ever God seems as his messenger has all the authority to grant forth what God has already empowered the messenger to do otherwise why would Good have sent the message in the first place? Another thing I like to add we as believers in YeShua(Jesus)r in the same struggle with God as Jacob because r spirit is apart of who God is and r struggle with God is to overcome r freshly desires which r contrary to everything God is and who he would have us to be which is everything he is.I myself know that God would have all to be saved but not all r saved and in the struggle without a struggle there is no change, God bless u brother good stuff your posting 🙂

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      any one wants to respond to this? (thanks Edelmiro for sharing your feedback with us) Dr. Eli