ישראל

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nili95
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:24 pm

ישראל

Postby nili95 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:17 pm

The first time Jacob is given his new name is in Gen. 32:29.

The Plaut Commentary notes that 'Israel' may reflect the word sarita - striven, but he also notes that "the word may at first have been יָשָׁרְאֵל (yashar-el, the one whom God makes straight), as opposed to ya-akov-el, the one whom God makes limp."

Meanwhile, Alter writes: "... [Jacob's adversary] etymologizes the name Yisra'el as 'he strives with God.' In fact, names with the 'el ending generally make God the subject, not the object, of the verb in the name. This particular verb, sarah, is a rare one, and there is some question about its meaning, though an educated guess about the original sense of the name would be: 'God will rule,' or perhaps, 'God will prevail.'"

I'd be interested in hearing any further thoughts regarding ישראל.
L'Shalom,
Jay Frank

kwrandolph
Posts: 766
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: ישראל

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:58 am

nili95 wrote:The first time Jacob is given his new name is in Gen. 32:29.

The Plaut Commentary notes that 'Israel' may reflect the word sarita - striven, but he also notes that "the word may at first have been יָשָׁרְאֵל (yashar-el, the one whom God makes straight), as opposed to ya-akov-el, the one whom God makes limp."

Meanwhile, Alter writes: "... [Jacob's adversary] etymologizes the name Yisra'el as 'he strives with God.' In fact, names with the 'el ending generally make God the subject, not the object, of the verb in the name. This particular verb, sarah, is a rare one, and there is some question about its meaning, though an educated guess about the original sense of the name would be: 'God will rule,' or perhaps, 'God will prevail.'"

I'd be interested in hearing any further thoughts regarding ישראל.


Most names in Tanakh, while they have meaning, usually the meaning has no reference to the actions taken by the named person.

Secondly, the name may not directly refer to the action of the parent. For example, שמואל means “God placed him” because, as Hannah said, God had listened to her prayer, therefore he placed him.

An example of a name that was connected with an action at the time of birth is יעקב which means “he is crooked” because when he was born, he was holding onto the part of the body of his brother that is permanently crooked, namely the heel. Which led to Esau’s lament “Is his name not ‘Crooked’, that he has dealt crookedly with me these two times?” Genesis 27:36

Now, as to the meaning of ישראל, I haven’t made a study, but from the examples above, do we automatically assume that the meaning has a direct connection to Jacob’s striving with man and God? Or was the name chosen to remind Jacob that despite all, God is just and he still rules (two possible roots mentioned in this sentence)? Or did God deliberately leave it vague so that both ideas are expressed?

Interesting question. Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Karl W. Randolph.

S_Walch
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: ישראל

Postby S_Walch » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:26 am

Well I immediately thought of the Prophet Joel's name in Hebrew - יואל - which means "Yahweh is God", with God therefore being the object, Yahweh the subject. But then this isn't a verb+noun but proper noun + noun; Joel's father, Pethuel - פתואל - which means "Enlarged of God"/"God has enlarged", which does follow the verb+noun = God is subject not object.

Interesting. I'm going to have to go through all the names ending in 'el and just see how true Alter's statement is.

Edit:
Thinking about this a bit more, pretty much every name ending in יה/יהו- means "Yahweh (verb action)", so it would make sense that names ending in אל- mean "God (verb action)" - the question would be then what is the exact meaning of שרה, which only appears twice: Gen 32:29 and Hosea 12:4, both only with regards to Jacob "שרה with God".
Ste Walch

nili95
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:24 pm

Re: ישראל

Postby nili95 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:18 am

I'm not sure if this adds anything at all, but Wikipedia: Jeshurun writes:

Jeshurun (Hebrew: יְשֻׁרוּן), or Yeshurun, is a poetic name for Israel used in the Hebrew Bible. It is generally thought to be derived from a root word meaning upright, just or straight, but may have been derived from שׁור, shur, to see, or may be a diminutive form of the word Israel.

Jeshurun appears four times in the Hebrew Bible: three times in Deuteronomy and once in Isaiah. It can refer to the people of Israel (Deut. 32:15; 33:26), the Land of Israel (Deut. 33:5;), or the Patriarch Jacob (whom an Angel renamed Israel in Genesis 32:29):

  • 'But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; you grew fat, you grew thick'. (Deuteronomy 32:15)
  • 'Moses commanded a law for us, a heritage of the congregation of Jacob. He was King in Jeshurun, when the leaders of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together'. (Deuteronomy 33:4-5)'
  • There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you'. (Deuteronomy 33:26)
  • ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant, and thou, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen'. (Isaiah 44:2).
The word Jeshurun may have a relationship to the same root as the Hebrew word “upright,” “yesharim”. Numbers appears to use the word “upright,” “yesharim,” as a play on the word “Jeshurun” to refer to the people of Israel. (Num. 23:10.). Joshua 10:13 refers to a Book of Jasher (or Book of Jashar), translated in some versions as "the Book of the Upright".
L'Shalom,
Jay Frank

S_Walch
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 4:41 pm

Re: ישראל

Postby S_Walch » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:06 pm

Unfortunately that Wiki article appears to be lacking quite a few references for me to give it too much thought for the moment :)

However if it's correct, then ישראל would probably be better interpreted as meaning "God's upright"/"Upright of God", which would fit the idea of God's people being "Upright, Just" a lot better than "Strives with God".
Ste Walch


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