In the New American Standard, Genesis 25: 26 reads

And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

The Hebrew word we have as 'Jacob' is יַעֲקֹב I have never seen it translated other than 'supplanter;' however, the root word עָקַב,(aqab) which is missing the leading yodh, is also translated as 'supplanter,' or 'take by the heel,' as in Hosea 12:3:

בַּבֶּטֶן עָקַב אֶת־אָחִיו וּבְאוֹנוֹ שָׂרָה

the first part of which translates: He took his brother by the heel in the womb,

So, my question is, does the yodh reference part of the name of God, as it does in 'the name 'Joshua'?

  • Not likely. That would mean YHWH was deceptive, and that there was a god at one time greater than YHWH, looking at the meanings of עָקַב.
    – Perry Webb
    Dec 19, 2023 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


The OP has already cited almost all of the usual evidence for the origin of the name of Jacob יַעֲקֹב, especially:

  1. Gen 25:26 - the text explains the origin of the name as "he grasps the heel"
  2. The root of the word is עָקֵב (aqab) meaning "heel", or, "footprint", etc. See Hos 12:3

The lexicons of BDB, Strongs, NAS, Baker and Carpenter, Davidson all agree.

However, the OP also asks about יַעֲקֹב and its initial yodh - by comparison with "Joshua" יְהוֹשׁוּעַ ("the LORD is Salvation") - might the initial yodh be an abbreviation of Jehovah?

The answer is "no" because when the tetragrammaton, יְהוָֹה , is abbreviated, the first two letters יְה are used as in Joshua which is really, "Yeh-ho-shuah". To make a name like "Jehovah grasps/supplants" (a blasphemous idea!!) would require a word like יְהעָקֵב = "Yeh-akub".

But, fortunately, this is NOT the case we only have יַעֲקֹב = the one/he who grasps/supplants".

Further, of the name "elohim" (= "God") were included, again, we would need the letters אֵל ("el")- but these letters are also absent. In any case, this meaning would also be blasphemous.

  • is it 'blasohemous' to misspell blasphemous? Dec 19, 2023 at 2:15
  • @DanFefferman - quite correct - now fixed
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 2:32
  • Blasohemous? == Of or related to blood in the arms. No not blasphemous just sanguine-handed. 😊 Dec 21, 2023 at 13:15

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