Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Israel

The name Israel comes from the Bible, specifically in Genesis 32:28. In this particular Biblical story, Jacob wrestles with a stranger all night. At day break, the mysterious man asks Jacob to stop wrestling, but Jacob replies only if the stranger will bless him. God responds: “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Essentially, Jacob basically got a name change from God Himself. No longer Jacob, he is henceforth referred to as Israel in Genesis, the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel, the patriarch of all Israelites, and the founding father of the kingdom of Israel. We guess that God decided Jacob would be up for any challenge after demonstrating his strength and fortitude by fearlessly wrestling with God Himself. We should clarify that this particular Biblical passage has been a subject of religious debate; some theologians believe Jacob struggled with an angel, or some agent of God, rather than God Himself. In any case, Israel is primarily thought of as a Jewish name. However, it was also taken up by the Puritans in the 16th century which helped spread the name among Christians. Today, Israel is the 55th most popular boy’s name in Mexico (2010).

All About the Baby Name – Israel

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME ISRAEL

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME ISRAEL

The name Israel has been around and in use since at least 1880, the first year the U.S. government began tracking naming trends. Generally considered a Jewish name, this apparently is far from the truth. Israel was likely brought to American by way of the Puritan settlers during colonial times. So the name has a wider religious audience than what one might think. What’s driving the name’s popularity in the United States is actually the growing Hispanic and Latino populations. The name is ranked the highest in the state of New Mexico which also happens to be the state with the highest density of Latinos. As the 55th most popular boy’s name in Mexico in 2010, our friends south of the border are influencing the name’s usage right here in America. Nationwide, Israel is not quite a Top 200 pick, but the name has shown consistent slow and steady growth since the 1940s. This is a very religious name; there’s no two-ways about that. Israel is the young man who struggles with God and prevails. We can’t think of a more impressive accomplishment than that; can you?

Quick Facts

ON ISRAEL

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Hebrew

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

3

RANKING POPULARITY:

245

PRONUNCIATION:

IZ-rye-ell, IZ-ree-ul

SIMPLE MEANING:

Struggled with God

Characteristics

OF ISRAEL

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Israel

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ISRAEL

Israel Hands is the steering crewman aboard the “Hispaniola” in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1883 sea adventure novel, Treasure Island. This novel provided timeless characterizations of the sea-pirate with his peg-leg and parrot-on-the-shoulder, the map with X marking the spot, and the daredevil villains such as Long John Silver. Israel himself is no small contribution to the annals of villains. He’s a murderer, a fighter, a drinker, and a double-crosser. At the same time, he’s a rather cunning, droll character for all that, with his “shiver-my-timbers” and his “dead men don’t bite” proclamations. Of course, he must come to a fitting end for his sins, and he does, but rather in style. Take a look at N.C. Wyeth’s 1911 illustration for Treasure Island, “One More Step, Mr. Hands”.

Popular Songs

ON ISRAEL

Israel's Song
a song by Built To Spill

Israel's Son
a song by Silverchair

Israel
a song by Ween

Hope of Israel
a song by Michael W. Smith

Egypt, Israel & America
a song by Seals & Crofts

Famous People

NAMED ISRAEL

Israel Baline (birth name of Irving Berlin, composer)
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (Hawaiian singer)
Israel Vázquez (Mexican boxer)
Israel B. Richardson (Civil War general)
Israel Houghton (Christian singer)
Israel "Izzy" Alcántara (baseball player)
Israel Castro (Mexican soccer player)
Israel Zangwill (playwright)
Israel Idonije (football player)
Israel Putnam (Revolutionary War general)
Israel Sesay (soccer player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED ISRAEL

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Israel

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ISRAEL

We gave you the main points on Solomon above. He was Israel’s third king; the son of David; loved by God; given power, wealth and wisdom; reigned during the “Golden Age” of Israel; built Jerusalem’s first Temple; yadda yadda, yadda. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for King Solomon. He had 700 wives and princesses and 300 mistresses. That’s 1,000 women he loved (no wonder the ‘Song of Song’s’ was written either for him or by him). As God suspected would happen, many of Solomon’s foreign wives and concubines influenced him with the ways of their own pagan religious beliefs. Eventually, Solomon turned away from God, but because God loved Solomon’s father David so much, He let Solomon finish his 40 year reign and die honorably without punishment. Still, some of Solomon’s political policies had some not-so-great consequences. He alienated the Northern Tribes through forced labor and heavy taxation; he diminished some of their religious influence; and he sells some of their towns to the Phoenician king. This all would set the stage for the subsequent division of Israel when the northern tribes secede from the union.