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(11,300 words)

1. Historical Israel

1.1. Name

“Israel” is a theophorous name in which the proper name “El” (God) is combined with the verb śrh as its subject. The OT gives this verb the sense of striving. The patriarch Jacob is called Israel because he had “striven with God” (Gen. 32:28, see also Hos. 12:3–4). This popular etymology, however, is not a reliable witness for the original meaning of the verb, and it also misunderstands the theophoric element “El” as an object.

In the OT, the name “Isra…

Cite this page
Gunneweg, Antonius H. J., Awerbuch, Marianne and Kimball, Charles A., “Israel”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 04 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_I396>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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