Genesis 35:10, Jacob becomes Israel

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

//There are two stories in the Bible of how Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. In the first, mentioned in a post a while back, Jacob wrestles with “God”, and holds tight to Him until blessed. Genesis: 33:10 That blessing occurred at Penuel, just before Jacob’s reunion with Esau.

Sometime after this reunion, God directed Jacob to Bethel, the place where he dreamed of a ladder. There, God blesses Jacob again, and again names him Israel. Today’s verse is this second blessing.

Why two different stories, in two different places and two different times? I can present two theories:

There may be some competitiveness between the two stories. Bethel sits at the southern border of Israel, Penuel at the northern border. King Jeroboam built a governmental center and city at Penuel, but the Shiloh priesthood remained centered in the south and associated with Bethel. Jeroboam initially had the support of the Shiloh priesthood, but ruined the relationship when he began proclaiming that a formal priesthood was unnecessary. Jeroboam felt anyone could become a priest.

Thus, Jeroboam and Penuel claimed Israel’s name and blessing for the north, and the priesthood and Bethel claimed Israel’s name and blessing for the south.

A second explanation may be that the two stories complement each other. If the stranger that Jacob wrestles with is not God, but his brother Esau, then the first blessing comes not from the mouth of God but from his brother. Esau’s blessing is, therefore, is only a prophecy of God’s blessing to come.

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