(כח) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו מַה־שְּׁמֶ֑ךָ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר יַעֲקֹֽב׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לֹ֤א יַעֲקֹב֙ יֵאָמֵ֥ר עוֹד֙ שִׁמְךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים וְעִם־אֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַתּוּכָֽל׃
(28) Said the other, “What is your name?” He replied, “Jacob.” (29) Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”
(י) וַיֹּֽאמֶר־ל֥וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים שִׁמְךָ֣ יַעֲקֹ֑ב לֹֽא־יִקָּרֵא֩ שִׁמְךָ֨ ע֜וֹד יַעֲקֹ֗ב כִּ֤י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה שְׁמֶ֔ךָ וַיִּקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (יא) וַיֹּאמֶר֩ ל֨וֹ אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֲנִ֨י אֵ֤ל שַׁדַּי֙ פְּרֵ֣ה וּרְבֵ֔ה גּ֛וֹי וּקְהַ֥ל גּוֹיִ֖ם יִהְיֶ֣ה מִמֶּ֑ךָּ וּמְלָכִ֖ים מֵחֲלָצֶ֥יךָ יֵצֵֽאוּ׃ (יב) וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֛תִּי לְאַבְרָהָ֥ם וּלְיִצְחָ֖ק לְךָ֣ אֶתְּנֶ֑נָּה וּֽלְזַרְעֲךָ֥ אַחֲרֶ֖יךָ אֶתֵּ֥ן אֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יג) וַיַּ֥עַל מֵעָלָ֖יו אֱלֹהִ֑ים בַּמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר אִתּֽוֹ׃ (יד) וַיַּצֵּ֨ב יַעֲקֹ֜ב מַצֵּבָ֗ה בַּמָּק֛וֹם אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ מַצֶּ֣בֶת אָ֑בֶן וַיַּסֵּ֤ךְ עָלֶ֙יהָ֙ נֶ֔סֶךְ וַיִּצֹ֥ק עָלֶ֖יהָ שָֽׁמֶן׃
(10) God said to him, “You whose name is Jacob, You shall be called Jacob no more, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He named him Israel. (11) And God said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Be fertile and increase; A nation, yea an assembly of nations, Shall descend from you. Kings shall issue from your loins. (12) The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to you; And to your offspring to come Will I assign the land.” (13) God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to him; (14) and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a pillar of stone, and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.
Why is Yaakov named Yisrael a second time?
Why is Yaakov still referred to as Yaakov after being officially renamed by God?
לא יקרא שמך עוד יעקב THY NAME SHALL NOT BE CALLED ANY MORE JACOB— which means a man who comes as a lurker and trickster, but it shall be Israel (ישראל), which signifies Prince and Chief.
לא יעקב יאמר, the meaning is “not only Yaakov will your name be in future.” We have examples of parallel meanings in Joshua 22,20 לא גוע בעונו, “he did not die due to his sin,” where the meaning is that “not only Achan died for his sin, but due to his sin many others died.“ [The Israelites who fell in the first battle of Ai. Ed.] Also in Kings II 6,10, the words לא אחת ולא שתים, “not one and not two,” is such a construction. The expression means: “not once but many times.” Knowing that the meaning of our verse is that Yaakov will henceforth not only be known as Yaakov, helps explain the many occasions later when this original name is applied to him, as distinct from the name change of Avram to Avraham.
(1) ,לא יקרא שמך עוד יעקב'שמך יעקב, “your name has been Yaakov; it will no longer be Yaakov;” The Torah means that henceforth his name would no longer only be “Yaakov,” but the name “Yisrael” would be added to it. If the name “Yaakov” were to be eliminated completely, this would be interpreted as having been a name describing a person with negative character traits up to now. (Compare Esau’s comment in Genesis 27,36) Henceforth the Torah will refer to YaakovYisrael sometimes by his original name and sometimes only by his additional name. When G-d changed Avram’s name to Avraham, He had never said that שמך אבדם, “your name is or was Avram.” This is why the sages have said that anyone referring to Avraham as Avram, is equivalent to violating a positive commandment of the Torah. (Talmud B’rachot 13). (2) כי אם ישראל יהיה שמך, “but your name shall be Yisrael.” The name implies that the one possessing it wields authority, as the angel had said to Yaakov: ”you have contended with Divinity and you have prevailed.” (32,29) The name is very appropriate for you as you will be the founding father of kings. Rashi here claims that the reference in this verse is to King Shaul and his son Ish Boshet. Should you ask that we have been taught (in Sanhedrin 20) that Avner was punished for having delayed David’s occupying the throne of the Kingdom for two and a half years, i.e. the years during which Ish Boshet ruled after he appointed him as Shaul’s successor; why would he be punished for this, seeing it has been decreed already in the Torah that he would rule (according to Rashi)? We would have to answer that he was not punished for having crowned Ish Boshet, but because he had crowned Ish Boshet not because he considered him as fit to rule, but that he was motivated exclusively by trying to thwart David from ascending the throne.
(1) לא יקרא שמך יעקב כי אם ישראל, "You will not be called Jacob but Israel, etc." We need to understand the difference between when G'd renamed Abram and when he renamed Jacob. Berachot 13 states that anyone who calls Abraham Abram nowadays violates a positive commandment, whereas it is permissible to refer to Jacob as either Jacob or Israel. Although our rabbis in the Talmud there point out that the Torah itself refers to Israel as Jacob after G'd renamed him, in view of the fact that we ignore the words לא יקרא when it comes to Jacob, why should the same rule not apply to Abraham and we should have the choice of calling him by either name? (2) Perhaps the very fact that G'd limited the good news when He renamed Jacob by saying: "your name is Jacob," made this change of name qualitatively different from that of Abraham at the time. There had been no need for G'd to repeat "your name is Jacob." Who did not know this? Surely what G'd meant by this was that Jacob's permanent name would remain Jacob, but that on some occasions he would be referred to by an additional name, i.e. Israel. Why would it bother G'd that we should not refer to Abraham's original name? I believe there is a very good reason. We have to remember that names describe the nature of its bearers' souls, their essence. The Talmud Berachot 7 illustrates this point. Jacob's essence then is described by the name Jacob. Whenever he enjoyed a large measure of Holy Spirit he was referred to as "Israel." There is certainly no reason why Jacob should be deprived of his original name on account of an occasional infusion of רוח הקודש. It was quite different in the case of Abraham who retained all the letters of his original name in his expanded name also. This is why G'd commanded to call him only by his new and expanded name Abraham. By doing so one did not deny his original name at all. Perhaps Chronicles I,1 26 refers to this when it states: "Abram is Abraham." When the Torah said: "your name shall not be called, etc," the meaning is that it should not be called exclusively Jacob but also Israel. This is exactly parallel to Genesis 17,5 where Abraham's name was changed.
לא יעקב יאמר עוד שמך, a reference to the end of days when Israel will have survived the destruction of the gentile nations When that time comes no one ever will again use the name Yaakov for the Jewish people [and the stigma that used to be associated with that name. Ed.] The very word יעקב already contained within this message that the bearer of this name will triumph at the end. Once he has triumphed there is no more point in having a name which alludes to something which will be realised only in the future. The future will then have arrived!
שמך יעקב, at this time I make your name Yaakov an eternal name, i.e. after all the other nations will have perished you alone will remain. This will give a positive meaning to the word עקב, “heel,” meaning something that will survive all that precedes it. Compare Jeremiah 46,28 כי אעשה כלה בכל הגוים ואותך לא אעשה כלה, “when I shall put an end to all the nations, I will not put an end to you.
Sforno seems to suggest that the naming of Yaakov as Yisrael is not just an individual name change, but the name change of the entire People of Israel. There is also a claim that the name change is temporary, hinging on the future of the Jewish people. Agree/disagree?
MAKE IT PERSONAL:
What does it mean to maintain a duel identity? Do you ever feel a struggle between the two sides of yourself, or who you are and who you want to be?
How does the future degree/title you're working towards play into that dynamic?