Catholic Dictionary




The name given to Jacob by an angel at the Jabbok ford. He was on a journey to hold a reunion with his estranged brother, Esau. During the night a stranger wrestled with him till daybreak and then said to him, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because have been strong against God." Was the stranger an angel? Jacob himself thought it was God. He named the place Peniel "because I have seen God face to face and I have survived" (Genesis 32:25-32). Later in Genesis, God appeared to Jacob once again and repeated the statement, "Your name is Jacob, but from now on, you shall be named not Jacob but Israel" (Genesis 35:9-10). This was enough in itself to show the unique niche he occupies in Jewish history: he is the personification of the nation of Israel.