What Does Jacob Mean In the Bible?

What Does Jacob Mean In the Bible?

A person’s name is the first gift they are given in their life, as they enter the world, and the meaning of the name can be a way to instill values or beliefs that a parent hopes their child will have. Names also have different meanings and cultural significance depending upon where the name is being pulled from— which religion, culture, language, or geographic location, for instance. An example of this is the name Jacob in Christianity and in the text of the Bible. Read on to learn more about the name Jacob as it appears in the Christian Bible, as well as its meaning and significance. 

Meaning of the Name Jacob

First things first, what is the meaning of the name Jacob? Jacob has two different meanings. One of these meanings is “may God protect”. This can be seen in how God protected and cared for the biblical figure of Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel by God Himself. The second meaning of Jacob comes from the Hebrew root which means “to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach”. This second meaning of Jacob is “supplanter”, which is a person who seizes and holds the place of another, similar to that of a usurper. A supplanter is not necessarily a bad thing or something with a negative correlation. It can be seen as someone who has shown strength and perseverance against adversity, for example. These two meanings are the most common meanings for the name Jacob, but the Hebrew name can also be interpreted to mean “to follow, to be behind” or “heel”. This is related to Jacob in the Bible as well, as he was the second twin born and followed his brother out, being born holding onto the heel of his older brother Esau.

Significance of the Name Jacob

As mentioned above, there are a few different meanings of Jacob. It can mean “a supplanter” or “may God protect”. The significance of the name Jacob, especially in relation to Christianity and the Bible, largely comes from the story of Jacob and his older brother Esau. Jacob was born second, so he was not going to receive the birthright that his brother Esau was supposed to receive as the firstborn son. However, Jacob was a supplanter, and later, when the two brothers had grown, Jacob usurped or supplanted Esau’s birthright. He used his smarts and wits to do so, as he was the cleverer twin. Another significant part of Jacob’s story is how he came into th world following Esau, as the name Jacob can also mean “to follow, to be behind”. Jacob was also a favorite of God, so this could be a great choice of a name for your child if you want them to cultivate a strong connection with God and want them to know God’s love.

Name History of the Name Jacob

The name Jacob dates back to biblical times. The figure of Jacob in the Bible was from the Old Testament, appearing more than once. It is a boy’s name, though in some areas of the world, there are feminine versions of the name such as Jacobine and Jacobina. Jacob is a classic name and has not been as popular as it has been in the past in recent years, but it is still fairly common. For example, the name was at number 1 between the years 1999 to 2012. In 2013, it slid to the number 2 spot, and in 2020, Jacob was ranked at the 13th most popular boy’s name. There are plenty of famous Jacobs, or Jakes, which can often be a nickname for Jacob. One example of a famous Jacob is Jacob Tremblay, the actor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Jacob mean spiritually?

Jacob is a common name in the Christian religion, and it appears in the Bible, too. Jacob was very special to God. The Hebrew name comes from the Hebrew root that means “to follow, to be behind”, or “to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach”. It can also come from the Hebrew word for heel! Typically, the name Jacob is interpreted to mean “ may God protect”. 

What are the two meanings of Jacob?

Names can usually have more than one meaning, especially depending upon the language you are taking the name from, the culture, the geographic location, or the religion. There are two commonly interpreted meanings of the name Jacob, for instance. It can be taken to mean “supplanter”, coming from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible and being someone who seizes, circumvents, or usurps. This comes from the story of Jaco and Esau. However, the name Jacob can also be taken to mean “may God protect”. 

What did God rename Jacob and what does it mean?

In the Bible, Jacob wrestled with a mysterious stranger that he meets. After this, and after Jacob confessed to God in Gen. 32:27, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel means “he who struggles or strives with God”. This name was given to Jacob because he struggled with God and with people. God was the mysterious stranger that Jacob wrestled, and after God touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it, all Jacob was able to do was cling to God in his weakness. Then, Jacob asked for and was given a blessing from the Lord, and his name was changed then, too.

What is a supplanter in the Bible?

By definition, a supplanter is said to be a person who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another, similar to that of a usurper. A supplanter in the Bible is Jacob, who took the birthright of his older brother Esau. In fact, the name Jacob can be interpreted to mean “supplanter”. It also means a person who grasps, trips up, or deceives, as Jacob did to get his brother’s birthright. A supplanter is not necessarily a bad thing, though. A supplanter can be viewed as someone who has shown strength and perseverance. 

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About the author

Lucas is a former worship pastor and Hillsong College graduate (2005). He has spoken at churches, conferences and worship events and loves inspiring people to be more than just a Sunday service-goer. He founded 15 Degrees NE and is one of our leading authors.

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