Monday, January 07, 2013


I was having some random thoughts today about Israel.

I've been studying a lot of angel names, and most if not all of them end in -el (אל).  That ending indicates 'of God' in most English translations.  So Gabriel (גבריאל) is the strength of God (where גבר or Gibor is Strength).  So, I go to thinking, what does Isra mean?

The Hebrew for Israel is ישראל.  So dropping the -el, we get ישר, transliterated ISR and generally represented in Latin characters as yasher.  Yasher means Straight, or a smooth path. It also has connotations of moral uprightness.  So, using the construction above, ישראל means "a straight, smooth path to God" or "the righteous of God".

ישר has a gemetric value of 510.  It's the same value as the name of Abram's wife Sarai in Genesis (שרי).  Is the same as the word for Song (שיר).  It's also got the same value as the word for Whale (תנין) which gives some interesting connotations for the story of Jonah.

That's as far as I've gotten.  I'd be interested if anyone else has thoughts about the word Israel.


Jeffrey S. Kupperman said...

According to Torah, Yisrael means "God stives" or "he who strives (struggles, fought) with God." Genesis 32:28. Strong's dictionary says it comes from "sara" and "el." Here is an interesting article on the subject, though I cannot attest to its veracity.

Michael Sebastian Lùx said...

The honorific Israel was bestowed upon Jacob following his battle with the angel (cif Gen. 32). Although the word יִשְׂרָ can mean 'straight', the implication is something that is straightened from a previous straight - in English, the word we would use for that would be more analgous to 'rectification' or 'unwind'. In this context, we also have to look at how, prior to this incident, Jacob deceived his father and his (rather) stupid brother at which point he was able to obtain the patriarchal blessing needed to inherit his brother's birthright.

Jacob himself was very, very cunning - I'll be blunt and call him a douche-bag - yet at the same time we find in his development an analogy not only for the process of perfection and moral uprightness in the Israel prior to its first desecration, but also in humanity itself on a microcosmic level. This, in a way, gets to the point you're trying to make but from a covenantal perspective it implies to me at least that this is a process that is continual as though it were a constant dialogue between God and the people of God.

From an esoteric perspective, one might argue though, that the value of 510, which is also the same for head (ריש) furthers the idea of knowledge and conversation with the Lord. As it says in the Kabbalah Denudada: "When Microprosopus looketh back upon Him, all the inferiors are restored in order, and His Countenance is extended, and is made more vast at that time, but not for all time (then only is it), vast like unto the (countenance) of the More Ancient one." This is also, contextually, similar to the Biblical account of the creation of Israel and ordering the nations according to inginuity or, ordering of disparate thoughts into a unified consciousness.

Harmonia Sphæras said...

As previous posters have said it most commonly refers to Jacob's struggle with the angel. Non-canonically this angel is sometimes seen as Uriel.

It is interesting that the text refers to Jacob's struggle arising out a need for a "blessing"

"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Gen 32:24

This is another instance where God reveals himself through struggle, an inner meaning of which may refer to the personal revealing of our Divine source and nature. Perhaps a reference to finding one's purpose on this earth as well, or even the discovery of the Holy Guardian Angel.

"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...And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." 32:28; 30

This is clearly a turning point for Jacob on the microcosmic level, as he comes out of the experience with an entirely changed identity, and mesocosmically things have changed for the Hebrew people here as well.

I think a good redacted meaning might be:

"To find intimacy with the Divine through struggle." A true death to resurrection moment.