Genesis 32:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 32:28, NIV: "Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.'"

Genesis 32:28, ESV: "Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”"

Genesis 32:28, KJV: "And he said, 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."

Genesis 32:28, NASB: "Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have contended with God and with men, and have prevailed.'"

Genesis 32:28, NLT: "'Your name will no longer be Jacob,' the man told him. 'From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.'"

Genesis 32:28, CSB: ""Your name will no longer be Jacob," he said. "It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.""

What does Genesis 32:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob's unexpected grappling match with a mysterious man symbolizes his own spiritual needs, and foreshadows the basic outlines of the gospel. Jacob's past is rife with lies and deceptions (Genesis 25:29–34; 27:30–35). He doggedly wrestles with this stranger until dawn, when his opponent lands a crippling blow to his hip (Genesis 32:25). Even then, Jacob will not submit, demanding a blessing. In response, the man demands to know Jacob's name. Possibly realizing that this combatant is God, in some form, Jacob finally admits who he truly is.

In response, God changes Jacob's name to Israel, which means "God fights." The man, God, tells Jacob this is because Jacob has fought with God and with men and has won. This, much as with verse 25, raises controversy when not carefully understood.

First, we should note that Jacob did not "win" the grappling contest. In fact, he seems to have been permanently crippled by it (Genesis 32:25; 32:31). He did, however, refuse to give up. And, when all was said and done, Jacob came out of the match "better off" than when he went in: he obtained a blessing from God. Looking at the deeper symbolism of the name Israel, it's also true that Jacob's greatest successes have come when he trusted God to plan and provide. There, too, Jacob has "prevailed" in his struggles.

This change of Jacob's name is significant on several levels. Most immediately, it is yet another confirmation from God that Jacob will be protected and provided for in his perceived conflict with his brother Esau. Jacob's prayer (Genesis 32:9–12) will be answered. He need no longer fear his brother.

Second, the name Jacob—Ya'aqōb in Hebrew—carries a meaning of cheater or deceiver. This is not an unfair point, since it's exactly what Jacob did to Esau 20 years ago. His name, in part, described his character. This new name is intended to describe a new character, based on the fact that God fights for him and, importantly, for the nation that will come from him.

Finally, this name given to Jacob by God will become the very name of God's people. The nation will be called Israel from this moment on. It's no small coincidence that this nation of people will continue to "struggle" with God, demonstrating human weakness as well as the graceful mercy of God.