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Submission. The experience of the patriarch Jacob at Peniel (Gn 32) constitutes the most outstanding OT example of the submission that is basic to genuinely religious conduct. Twenty years before this event, Jacob is known to have been a believer; for God had renewed the patriarchal covenant with him and promised, “Behold, I am with you” (28:15). Yet in Jacob’s dealings with Laban during the years that followed, his conduct continued to be marked by grasping and deceit—that is, until he was met by “a man” (the Angel of the Lord), who wrestled with him all night (32:24). Finally the angel touched his thigh and dislocated it (v 25); but Jacob, meanwhile, is said to have “prevailed with God” (v 28), which is the meaning of the name Israel that he then received. Scripture later explains that this wrestling was an external sign of the patriarch’s inner struggle in prayer (Hos 12:4). The total picture would then be this: when a believer earnestly seeks God and yields up his life, “broken” in true submission to him, at this point he enters into the religious experience with which God would confront each of his people (Ps 51:17).

Israelthe name conferred on Jacob after the great prayer-struggle at Peniel (Gen. 32:28), because “as a prince he had power with God and prevailed.” (See JACOB.) This is the common name given to Jacob’s descendants. The whole people of the twelve tribes are called “Israelites,” the “children of Israel” (Josh. 3:17; 7:25; Judg. 8:27; Jer. 3:21), and the “house of Israel” (Ex. 16:31; 40:38).

This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel (Ps. 73:1: Isa. 45:17; 49:3; John 1:47; Rom. 9:6; 11:26).

After the death of Saul the ten tribes arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation (2 Sam. 2:9, 10, 17, 28; 3:10, 17; 19:40–43), and the kings of the ten tribes were called “kings of Israel,” while the kings of the two tribes were called “kings of Judah.”

After the Exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation.

Israel (iz’-ra-el) = He will be a prince with God; prince with God; contender of God; he strives with God; soldier of God; God will rule; God ruled man; ruling with God; one that prevails with God.

ISRAEL (Heb. yiśrā’ēl, ‘God strives’). 1. The new name given to Jacob after his night of wrestling at Penuel: ‘Your name’, said his supernatural antagonist, ‘shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven [śārîṯā, from śārâ, ‘strive’] with God and with men, and have prevailed’ (Gn. 32:28). With this account, assigned to J in the four-document hypothesis, cf. Ho. 12:3f., ‘in his manhood he [Jacob] strove [śārâ] with God. He strove [wayyāśar, from the same verb] with the angel and prevailed’. The re-naming is confirmed at Bethel in Gn. 35:10 (assigned to P), where God Almighty appears to Jacob and says: ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ ‘So’, adds the narrator, ‘his name was called Israel.’ Thenceforward Israel appears throughout the OT as an occasional synonym for Jacob; it is used most frequently when the Patriarch’s descendants are called ‘the children (or people) of Israel’ (Heb. benê yiśrā’ēl).


OT Old Testament

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