The Meaning of a Name

Dorothy Hostetter

READ : Genesis 32:24-32
Genesis 35:9-13

Jacob’s story in the book of Genesis began with his unusual birth and traced a disastrous adolescence. As Jacob entered the world of work and parenting, he often appeared to be taking two steps forward only to slide one or two steps backward. But in the midst of Jacob’s complicated circumstances and troubled relationships, God began speaking to him face to face. Jacob’s life wasn’t smooth, and neither is ours. But Jacob never tried to simplify his life by forgetting about God.

Esau was the happy-go-lucky twin. He was easily hurt, easy to please and never held a grudge. But he never strove for anything beyond “the good life.”

Jacob wouldn’t let go of God. He knew his faults; he would never forget how he had defrauded his brother and his father. But he would not let go until God had blessed him.

Jacob’s limp proved to be God’s blessing. For the first time in his life Jacob knew what it was like to be disabled, to have a defect that couldn’t be hidden. At last his guilty, grasping past was erased as God gave him the new name “Israel” (he struggles with God). Jacob had clung to God in desperation, and he would hang on for the rest of his life.


Lord, you can change people. I cling to you because your blessing is the only blessing I need. Amen.