The Etymological Origin of the Word ‘Israel’
According to Webster, etymology is, “the tracing of a word back as far as possible in its own language.” The first occurrence of the word ‘Israel’ (yisrael) – יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל in the Hebrew Bible is found in this week’s Torah portion in Genesis 32:28. In this passage, the angel of the LORD confronts the patriarch Jacob at Peniel and changes his name: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” What does ‘Israel’ ( יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל <-) mean? First, note that the last two letters, אל, (El), is one of the names for God and occurs 6,581 times in the Hebrew T’nakh. [The longer form of this word is אלוהים (Elohim) and occurs 2,602 times in the T’nakh.] (more…)
The first line of text in this week’s Torah portion:
This Hebrew text of this week’s Torah portion, Genesis 12:1-17:27, begins with the phrase ( לֶךְ־לְךָ֛) Lech-Lecha. The word, לֶךְ (Lech) is from the Hebrew root ( הלכ) and means to walk or to go. Thus the Hebrew phrase lech-lecha literally means, “You go!” In the KJV, it is translated as, “Get thee out”.
Genesis 12:1-3 is known to Bible scholars as the Abrahamic Covenant because here God first made His covenant with Abram:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (more…)