Etymology of Israel

Historically has been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel or the entire Jewish nation

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.
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Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name «State of Israel» (Medinat Yisrael) after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel («the Land of Israel»), Zion, and Judea, were considered and rejected. In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term «Israeli» to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.
pinterest button Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Gustave Doré (1832-83), Public Domain

The name «Israel» (Standard Yisraʾel, Isrāʾīl; Septuagint Greek: Ἰσραήλ Israēl; 'El (God) persists/rules' though, after Hosea 12:4 often interpreted as «struggle with God») in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord.

Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the «Exodus».

The earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word «Israel» is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).

The Merneptah Stele (13th century BC). The majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as
pinterest button The Merneptah Stele (13th century BC). The majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as «Israel,» representing the first instance of the name in the record. Webscribe, CC BY-SA 3.0

The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. From 1920, the whole region was known as Palestine (under British Mandate) until the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 1948.

Through the centuries, the territory was known by a variety of other names, including Judea, Samaria, Southern Syria, Syria Palaestina, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Iudaea Province, Coele-Syria, Djahy, and Canaan.

Useful Information

Etymology of Israel

Other Names

English: Israel (/ˈɪzreɪəl/ or /ˈɪzriːəl/

Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל‎‎ translite: Yisrā'el

Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل‎‎ translite: Isrāʼīl

Officially: the State of Israel

Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל‎‎ translite: Medīnat Yisrā'el 

Arabic: دولة إِسْرَائِيل‎‎  translite: Dawlat Isrāʼī