Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Fri Sep 1 19:26:12 EDT 2000

Well, my Bible (NIV) doesn't have this bit about "a prince" at all, in 32:28
(English), 32:29 (Hebrew). This looks to me like a simple mistranslation,
unless there is a variant text not mentioned in BHS. Presumably your
translation, Bill, has read &FRIYTF "sarita" as a form of &RR taken to mean
"have princely power" ("prince" of course meaning "ruler" rather than the
modern usage "son of a monarch"). But surely the Y here indicates that this
should be taken as a form of &RH (better, &RY) "struggle", or could this
mean "persevere"?

"Israel" is a name, and no name "literally mean"s anything, though it may
have a derivation or etymology and may be chosen because of that derivation.
Let me recommend James Barr again for his expose of the "etymological
fallacy" which applies to names even more than to other words. This verse
suggests that the derivation of "Israel" is from the root &RH/&RY "struggle"
or "persevere". So, Bill, your suggestion in a later posting is closer to
the mark than "prince of God".

As for Sarah, &FRFH need not be an abbreviation of a theophoric name, it
could simply be a feminine form of &AR "prince, ruler", so "meaning"

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Ross" <wross at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 3:40 PM
Subject: RE: Israel

> <LMB>
> What does "Israel" literally mean, please?
> <Bill>
> Genesis 32:28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but
> Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God [elohim] and with men,
> hast prevailed. {Israel: that is, A prince of God}
> Bill Ross
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