Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Catholic Dictionary




The son of Isaac and Rebekah; he became the third of the Hebrew Patriarchs and one of the great figures in rabbinical literature. The account of his being renamed "Israel" by God, which thus made him the eponymous ancestor of the nation, is significant comment on his distinctive place in Jewish history (Genesis 35:9-10). In his dealings with Laban, his uncle, over a twenty-year period he acquired the latter's two daughters as wives and considerable wealth (Genesis 32:3-21). Altogether he had twelve sons, each of whom became the head of one of the tribes of Israel (Genesis 29, 30). One of the most familiar stories in Scripture is the lengthy account of the adventures of Joseph, who was the elder of the two sons of Jacob by Rachel and his father's favorite. Sold into slavery, he eventually became Governor of Egypt. During a great famine there was a family reunion and the overjoyed Jacob regained his son. Jacob and his entire family moved to Goshen in the land of Egypt, and he spent his remaining years there under Joseph's protection. He was buried at his urgent request back in Canaan, where Abraham and Isaac were buried (Genesis 37-50).