The Importance of Names

Hey guys, so, in some ancient cultures, like ancient Israel, oftentimes, the name given to a person or place told you something about that person or place. For example, in Genesis 32, after Jacob wrestles with a divine being, we read, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face …” In Hebrew, Peniel means “facing God” or “face of God.” It’s not just a name Jacob thought sounded cool — it tells you something about that place.

In Hebrew, “Jacob” means (among other things) “supplanter.” You’ll recall that earlier in Jacob’s life, he pretended to be his brother, Esau, and tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother’s birthright. Jacob was a supplanter. But after his wrestle with a divine being, we read, “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.” In Hebrew, Israel means (among other things) “a man who wrestles with God” or “One who prevails with God.” In this episode, we’re going to look at how understanding names in scripture can often unlock additional meaning — both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.

Alright, so let’s look at a few more biblical examples. We just talked about Jacob “supplanting” Esau. Genesis 25 somewhat graphically describes Esau’s birth: “And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.” Believe it or not, Esau means “hairy”.

To read more: Saints Unscripted/Faith&Beliefs