What is the meaning of Israel's name? Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Meaning of Israel’s Name

They say a name reveals one’s true character and destiny. That has never been more true than in the case of Israel.


Taking on God is not a game. Even the mere thought feels senseless and reckless. What’s more, it is surely a highly-risky endeavor. One would need to be particular bold, or impertinent, to get into the ring with the Almighty. And yet, “he who wrestles with God” is the essence of Israel’s name (ישראל).

There’s an old saying that goes, “Tell me your name, and I will tell you who you are.” Here, too, the Israel’s name reveals a great deal about its character. 

The man who wrestles with Jacob at the Jabbok River until dawn gives him the name Israel. He tells him, “You have fought with God, and you can do so with men as well!” 

But who is this mysterious one who wrestles with Jacob in the darkness? Is it a normal person? Or an angel, or even God Himself? Is it Esau, or his servant? Some even say it was Jesus.  (image) Most traditions…