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What is the difference between Jacob and Israel?
In Gen. 32:28 the name Jacob was changed to Israel. Why is it that from time to time in the scripture there is reference to both names, e.g. Num 23:23. What is therefore the difference between Jacob and Israel?
Genesis 32:28 says, "And he said, 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." Numbers 23:23 says, "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!"The name Jacob means "supplanter." Supplanter means, "to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery" (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Genesis 27:33-36 is a good example of that, and even brings up the meaning of Jacob's name: "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing. And he said, IS NOT HE RIGHTLY NAMED JACOB? FOR HE HATH SUPPLANTED ME THESE TWO TIMES: HE TOOK AWAY MY BIRTHRIGHT; AND, BEHOLD, NOW HE HATH TAKEN AWAY MY BLESSING. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" The name Israel means "prince with God, or, power with God." Once again, Genesis 32:28 says, "And he said, 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." Why are the two names used in Numbers 23:23? ("Surely there is no enchantment against JACOB, neither is there any divination against ISRAEL: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!"). The two different names of Jacob are used here, because of the words used in respect to each name. Look at the verse again: "Surely there is no ENCHANTMENT AGAINST JACOB, neither is there any DIVINATION AGAINST ISRAEL The word enchantment is used with the name Jacob, and it means, "the act of producing certain wonderful effects by the invocation or aid of demons" (Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary). That would be something evil or wrong in nature which is fitting with the word Jacob, which means, "to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery" (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary). But that word would not be fitting at all with the meaning of the name Israel, which means, "prince with God or power with God." So the word divination was used in regard to that name, which means, "the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge (usually by the aid of supernatural powers)" (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary). That meaning could be applied to seeking wisdom from God. The context of the use of these two names in one verse, Numbers 23:23, was that Balak wanted to hire Balaam to curse Israel. Balak was an unsaved king who had heard of the spiritual power of the prophet Balaam. Numbers 22:4-6 says, And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I PRAY THEE, CURSE ME THIS PEOPLE; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: FOR I WOT THAT HE WHOM THOU BLESSEST IS BLESSED, AND HE WHOM THOU CURSEST IS CURSED. As Balaam sought the mind of the Lord in this matter, he discovered that God was not going to curse Israel. So he was just explaining to Balak that whether a person tried to use enchantments against Jacob (the aid of demonic power to do something treacherous to them), or whether a person wanted to use divination against Israel (trying to get God to reveal a way to destroy Israel), neither way would be successful in the end. Sadly, although Balaam could not curse Israel, he later counseled Balak to cause his people to seduce Israel, which brought judgment upon those in Israel who took part in that sin. Numbers 25:1-5 says, And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. We know that that was Balaams idea, because of what we are later told. Numbers 31:16 says, Behold, these caused the children of Israel, THROUGH THE COUNSEL OF BALAAM, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Because of Balaams part in the sin, he also perished in the battle. Numbers 31:7, 8 says, And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: BALAAM ALSO THE SON OF BEOR THEY SLEW WITH THE SWORD.
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