Meaning of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: He will rule as God, God prevails
Strong's Concordance #H3478

The word Israel appears more than 2,500 times in the King James Old Testament. It occurs the most in the book of Numbers (236) followed by the book of 1Kings (203). In the New Testament, it is recorded 75 times, with the book of Acts having the most occurrences (21).

Map showing division of Israel's land in 1398 BC

The patriarch Jacob, after wrestling with a "man," is renamed Israel by God. His descendants, produced through four women (Bilhah, Leah, Zilpah and Rachel) are collectively known as the children of Israel.

In 1670 B.C., Jacob and his family migrate to Egypt due to a severe famine in Canaan (Genesis 46 - 47). The family, numbering seventy (which included Joseph and his two sons already in Egypt) lives in the land of Goshen and grows to a nation of 2 to 3 million (likely more) before the Exodus. Israel, after leaving Egyptian bondage in 1445, wanders the wilderness for forty years before they are allowed to enter their inheritance.

A brief history

All the Israelite tribes enter the Promised Land, under Joshua, in 1405 B.C. They, in whole or in part, are then governed by a Judge for 280 out of the next 355 years of their history. Saul, in 1050, is made king over a united Israel. He, David and Solomon rule over God's people for a total of 120 years. The kingdom splits, in 930, into two distinct nations. These are the Kingdom of Israel in the north (ten of the tribes) and the Kingdom of Judah in the south (the remaining tribes).

The Kingdom of Israel has twenty kings rule over it for its short history of 207 years. The nation is finally conquered and taken out of the land by the Assyrian Empire in 723 B.C. The Kingdom of Judah, or Jews, has nineteen men and one female reign over it during its 344 years of existence. They, too, are conquered, with the Babylonians completing their captivity of the people, as well as destroying Jerusalem and its temple, in 586.

Spiritual dimension

One of the main teachings of the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul, is the concept of a true, or spiritual, Israel. Instead of being composed of physical descendants from one human, it is made up of all those who believe the gospel and have the Holy Spirit residing in them.

Under the New Covenant, race, nationality, sex or other physical based criteria are not used to determine who is or is not part of God's people. Rather, it is anyone who repents, is baptized, receives God's Spirit, and lives a life of obedience and overcoming who are considered members of spiritual Israel (Romans 9:6 - 8, Galatians 3, 6:16, Ephesians 3:6, 1Peter 2:9).

Important verses


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 and with men, and hast prevailed.

Nation (all tribes)

Genesis 47:27
And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen: and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.

Exodus 1:7
And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty: and the land (Egypt) was filled with them.

Judges 2:7
And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

1Samuel 12:1
And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you (Saul).

Matthew 19:28
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Nation (northern ten tribes)

1Kings 12:20
And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king . . .

1Kings 21:7
And Jezebel his (King Ahab's) wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread . . .

Scattered descendants

Matthew 10:6
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.


Romans 9:6 - 8
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Further Bible study:

Meaning of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
Scripture quotes are taken from
the King James translation.
The definition of each listing
is derived from a variety of sources.

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