Israel (name)

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In English:
In Hebrew:
MeaningGod Contended[1]
Wrestles with God[2]
Triumphant with God[3]
Region of originNear East
Other names
Related namesIzzy (nickname)

Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Modern: Yīsraʾel, Tiberian: Yīsrāʾēl) is a Hebrew-language masculine given name. According to the Book of Genesis, the name was bestowed upon Jacob after the incident in which he wrestled with the angel (Genesis 32:28 and 35:10). The given name is already attested in Eblaite (𒅖𒊏𒅋 Išrail) and Ugaritic (𐎊𐎌𐎗𐎛𐎍 Yšrʾil).[4] Commentators differ on the original literal interpretation. The text of the Book of Genesis etymologizes the name with the root śarah (שָׂרָה‎, "to rule, contend, have power, prevail over"):[5] שָׂרִיתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִים (KJV: "a prince hast thou power with God"), but modern suggestions read the el as the subject, for a translation of "El rules/judges/struggles"[citation needed] or "El fights/struggles"[citation needed] The Jewish Study Bible of Oxford University Press says on page 68 "The scientific etymology of Israel is uncertain, a good guess being '[The God] El rules.'"[6] implying God through the word for the supreme deity of the Canaanite religion.

Referring to a foreign people, the name appears on the Merneptah Stele (Egyptian: 𓇌𓊃𓏤𓏤𓂋𓇋𓄿𓂋𓏤 Ysrỉꜣr), probably referring to the Israelites.

In Jewish texts during the Second Temple period and beyond, as well as in Christian Greco-Egyptian texts, Israel was understood to mean "a man seeing God": from ʾyš (man) rʾh (to see) ʾel (God).[7]

Per the Bible, Jacob's descendants (the Twelve Tribes of Israel) formed a national ethos and collectively established the Kingdom of Israel, whence came the name of the modern-day State of Israel.

Given name[edit]



  1. ^ Campbell, Mike. "Meaning, origin and history of the name Israel". Behind the Name.
  2. ^ "Israel Definition and Meaning - Bible Dictionary". Bible Study Tools.
  3. ^ James P. Boyd, Bible dictionary, Ottenheimer Publishers, 1958
  4. ^ Michael G. Hasel, Domination and Resistance: Egyptian Military Activity in the Southern Levant, Brill, 1998
  5. ^ שָׂרָהśarah "to contend, have power, contend with, persist, exert oneself, persevere" (Strong's Concordance H8323) שָׂרַרśarar "to be or act as prince, rule, contend, have power, prevail over, reign, govern" (Strong's Concordance 8280)
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Old Testament pseudepigrapha, Volume 2. Charlesworth, James H. London: Darton, Longman & Todd. 1983–1985. p. 703. ISBN 0232516278. OCLC 14814462.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)