As the story concerning each character unfolds, we learn how closely connected is the name to the narrative, provided that we focus on the Hebrew name. English, Spanish, Greek and Latin, along with all other world languages fall short in demonstrating how: 1. The Biblical name foreshadows the life events of each personality, 2. The Hebrew name both mirrors and substantiates the truthfulness of biblical events and prophecies.
Although reading the bible in English is also perceived by believers as reading truth, the immediate sense of substantiation, as reflected in the mere Hebrew name, is missing from the non-Hebrew reading experience. This is just one reason why it is so important for every Bible follower to obtain some knowledge of Hebrew.
The most prevalent name in the Bible is Israel. It appears more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament and about 80 times in the New Testament. Israel is also a perfect example to the Name-Fate connection we see frequently in biblical names.
The name Israel was first introduced in the Bible in Gen. 32:29. “And he said, ‘Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.'” In fact, the translation: ‘you have power’ is somewhat weak. The Hebrew word that is used in this verse is ‘sa-ri-ta.’ It is a past-tense verb that comes from the root word ‘Sar.’ Sar is ‘a prince’ or ‘leader,’ but as a verb, such as in this verse, it is related to the main characteristic associated with leadership: fighting. In the verse above, ‘sa-ri-ta’ relates to the biblical verb that means “to fight” or even better: ‘to wrestle.’ In a way, it connotes taking the action of a prince, leader or hero — giving a fight!
Say ‘Israel’ out loud or listen carefully to the recording and you won’t miss the sound connection between the two words: ‘Israel’ and ‘wrestle.’ Can you hear the similarity? Now you know the origin of the word ‘wrestle’ and you also know the full meaning of the name Israel: ‘wrestled with God.’