Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Who is Jacob?
The historical value of the Hebrew language of the Old Testament contains the progression, in parable/metaphor/proverb format, from ‘adam’ to Christ. Contained in this historical progressive narrative are many ‘type and shadow’ analogies that reveal to us the natural and spiritual ascensions from our basic natural beginnings as ‘adam’, or mankind, a living soul, to our intended destination in Spirit Life, which is Christ. Each one of us can recognize and/or identify with many, or maybe even most, of these progressions in our own personal stories; or ‘His-Stories’.
The story of the progression of ‘Jacob’, as he ascends to his identity as ‘Israel’, is familiar to most who seriously study the Bible. And the spiritual messages available to us in the appearing of the sons of Jacob are of particular importance. This writing is an attempt to highlight and illuminate the names of the eleven sons of Jacob, and the one son of Israel. After the birth of Joseph to Rachel, Jacob experienced life changing events that led to the changing of his own name; from Jacob to Israel. His nature change, indicated in the name ‘Israel’, would have to come later.
The name ‘Jacob’, pronounced ‘yah-qove’ (Strong’s # H3290) in Hebrew, has been greatly misunderstood, and maligned by religion for eons. The most common error in understanding the meaning of this name comes from trying to define, or describe, the name ‘Jacob’ by explaining the interpreted history of ‘Jacob’, son of Isaac. And there have been many ‘interpretations’ about ‘Jacob’ that are greatly distorted, and misunderstood. The name ‘Jacob’ has been loosely described as ‘supplant’; or ‘supplanter’. The story of Jacob is actually the story of each of us, in our own unique details. For Christ, in each of us, must ‘supplant’ ‘adam’ in us.
All names in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament come from three-letter action verbs. ‘Yah-qove’ is no exception. ‘Yah-qove’, or Jacob, is derived from the verb ‘ah-qav’, Strong’s # H6119. The last letter in this word ‘ah-qav’ is the ‘beyt’ and is normally pronounced as our English ‘b’. But in this word the ‘beyt’ is pronounced with a softened ‘v’ sound, which is a common characteristic in many Hebrew pronunciations. This is why the English pronunciation of this word/name is ‘jacob’, but in Hebrew is pronounced as ‘yah-qove’, which can be confusing to many. This verb, ‘ah-qav’, is not used prolifically in the scriptures, but certainly enough times to get an idea of what this verb is communicating. The first use of this three-letter word is as a noun in Gen. 3:15 where it is translated as ‘heel’; hence the association with heel, or heel catcher. But there is so much going on in this very complex verse that relegating the understanding of this word ‘ah-qav’ to simply ‘heel’ is a disservice to the entirety of the scriptures, and to eons of seekers.
One of the prevalent uses of this word ‘ah-qav’ (Strong’s # H6119), when used as an adverb, is translated as ‘because’. This in itself can be confusing if not further clarified. Ultimately, this word ‘ah-qav’ is used to explain, or justify, actions resulting from specific consequences; or more simply put, of reaping what is sown. From this understanding, the word ‘ah-qav’ is translated in Psalm 19:11, 40:15 and 70:3 as ‘reward’; i.e., the ‘reward’ received as a consequence of actions taken. The ‘reward’ involved may be a positive, or a negative, in just the same way that we ‘reap from what we have sown’. From this same understanding of ‘ah-qav’ as the results of consequential actions, this word is translated numerous times as ‘heel’, ‘steps’ and/or ‘footsteps’. The verb expresses, in several different types of circumstances, the results or responses elicited because of specific actions; again, simply the result of reaping what is sown. 2 Samuel 12:10, as well as Gen. 26:5, are very clear examples of why this word is sometimes translated as ‘because’.
While considering this ‘explanation’ of the word ‘ah-qav’, let us return to Gen. 3:15 with the hopes of revealing and exposing some understanding that has long been hidden in plain view.
KJV Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
When considering this verse, the word translated as ‘bruise’ has been difficult to properly discern. The context of this verse tends to makes the word ‘bruise’ indicate an activity of physically accosting or impacting another. While this may make sense in some contexts, the use of the word translated as ‘bruise’ in this verse is not describing physically impacting any one; or anything. The word translated as ‘bruise’ in this verse is the Hebrew ‘shooph’, Strong’s # H7779, which comes from the unused root ‘shah-phaph’. Words that are formed from this particular unused root ‘shah-phaph’ are words describing the condition of being ‘exposed; conspicuous; revealed’, etc. Strong’s # H7779, translated here as ‘bruise’, literally means to expose and reveal a specific characteristic or condition. The prophecy told us that the ‘seed of the woman’ would ‘bruise’ (conspicuously expose) the head of the serpent, and the serpent would ‘bruise’ (conspicuously expose) the heel of the ‘seed of the woman’. Hopefully this is becoming more readily understandable as we proceed. For the ‘heel’ that gets conspicuously exposed is actually referring to the ‘rewards’, or the consequential responses to those that reap what they have sown. Therefore, we can just as accurately translate Gen. 3:15 as follows: “…the seed of the woman will expose (reveal; make conspicuous) the head of the serpent, and the serpent shall expose (reveal; make conspicuous) the consequence of reaping what is sown by the seed of the woman”.
How then does all of this revealing, and exposing and making conspicuous, pertain to the ‘heel’ that is translated from the Hebrew verb ‘ah-qav’ (Strong’s # H6119), from which we also get the word/name ‘jacob’ (Strong’s # H3290)? That is a great question. Jacob, the second-born twin son of Isaac, was observed to have grabbed the ‘heel’ of the first-born twin son, Esau. In the verse describing this event [Gen. 25:26], the Hebrew word translated as ‘took hold on’ is from Strong’s # H0270, and literally means to “…take possession of”. As coming forth from the womb, the second born twin son was actually illustrating that he, the second born, would supplant, or overtake and replace, his first born twin brother. First the natural, then the spiritual.
The activity/actions of the first born, Esau, would eventually expose/reveal/make conspicuous the reality that the first born twin had no desire or appetite or assignment to manifest and produce the fruits expected and sought for from the first born. The recognition of ‘first born’ is not privilege, as many have thought, but is instead a serious responsibility. As ‘yah-qove’ (Jacob; supplanter), the second born twin would supplant the first born, and therefore inherit the blessing/responsibility of the birthright which is afforded to the son that illustrated the qualities and characteristics expected of the first born. Jacob stole nothing from Esau. He did lust after the birthright, but he did not steal it. Jacob did deceive his father, Isaac, but he dutifully and quite lawfully ‘took possession of’ the heel of Esau, which had been ‘bruised’ by the serpent, just as the scripture prophesied. Esau, we are told, ‘despised the birthright’, and sold it to Jacob. [Gen. 25:33-34]
By supplanting the ‘bruised’ heel of Esau, Jacob illustrated and manifested the fruitful maturity expected of the first born. By and through this series of events Jacob (yah-qove) was illustrating the pageant progression revealed in receiving a ‘name’ change, to be followed by a nature change, from ‘yah-qove’ to ‘Israel’. ‘Yah’qove’ could not possibly have stolen the birth right from Esau. He only took possession, as supplanter, of that to which he was destined. And as Jacob, the supplanter and receiver of the birth right from Isaac, he too would illustrate in his own life the prophecy of ‘bruising of the head’, and ‘bruising of the heel’. Jacob later had two wives, and two ‘concubines’ through which he ‘begat’ (sired) eleven sons. And as the revealer of the birth right, he ‘begat’ his twelfth son, ‘Ben-yamin’ (Benjamin), “…the right to be the son”.
…to be continued.