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Isaac blesses Jacob. ( Gioacchino Assereto , 1640s)

Jacob , also called Israel, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham , is the third of the patriarchs of the Israelites according to the book of Genesis of the Bible .


The Hebrew name Jacob ( יַעֲקֹב ja'ǎqov andיַעֲקֹוב ja'ǎqôv ) is the short form of a verb sentence name in which the subject (and at the same time theophore element ) has failed. The predicate is derived from the verb root* עקב 2 * 'qb 2 , which is only used in Ethiopian outside of personal names and means "protect". The name can therefore be translated as "(God) has protected". Similar names are known from Elephantine ( 'qbjh "YHWH has protected") and Nippur ( l Aq-qab-bi-DINGIR-MEŠ and l Aq-bi-ja-a-ma ).

The Septuagint gives the name as Ιακωβ Iakōb , the Vulgate as Iacob .

In Gen 25.26  EU the name Jakob is used with the nounעָקֵב 'āqev , German ' heel ' connected and the name interpreted as "heel holder". Gen 27.36  EU refers the name to the root of the verb1 עקב 'qb 1 , German ' cheat ' and understands him as a' cheater '. Both interpretations are folk etymologies.

Biblical narration

Jacob and Rachel ( Jacopo Palma Vecchio , approx. 1515–1525)
The reconciliation of Jacob and Laban ( Ciro Ferri , second half of the 17th century)
Reconciliation between Jacob and Esau ( fresco in the tribute hall of Rein Abbey , Joseph Amonte , 1740)
Jacob fights with the angel ( Rembrandt , ca.1659)

According to the biblical account, Jacob lived around the 18th century BC. He was born as the second son of his parents Isaak and Rebekka shortly after his twin brother Esau . At birth he held onto Esau's heel, which is why his name is explained in Hebrew as a heel holder ( Gen 25.26  EU ). Regarding family relationships, it is said: “Isaac preferred Esau because he liked to eat game; Rebekah, however, preferred Jacob. ”( Gen 25.28  EU ) One day when Esau came hungry from the field, he sold his birthright to Jacob for a lentil dish . Later, on the initiative and with the help of his mother, Jacob sneaked the firstborn blessing from his blind father Isaac.

Fearing Esau's anger, Rebekah sent her son to her relatives in Haran . On the way there the ladder to heaven appeared to him in a dream ( Gen 28,12-17  EU ). In Haran he served Laban , his mother's brother, for seven years each for his daughters Leah and Rachel . Jacob had actually only wanted to marry Rachel, but Laban made cunning that he married Leah first and had to serve him for Rachel for another seven years. There was a real fight for the husband between the sisters. Since Rachel had no children of her own at first, she gave Jacob her handmaid Bilhah , with whom Jacob fathered two sons. Finally God answered Rachel's prayers, and she had her youngest son, Joseph , in Haran .

Through Jacob's diligence, Laban became a rich man. By making a wise deal with his father-in-law, Jacob became very rich himself. After serving his uncle for 20 years, Jacob secretly returned to Canaan with his family and all his belongings . When Laban found out about this three days later, he persecuted Jacob. But the night before the two meet, God appeared to Laban in a dream and warned him not to do evil to Jacob. So the next day the two made a covenant of peace and went their separate ways.

When Jacob and Laban had settled their quarrel peacefully, Jacob erected a stone pillar and then piled stones in a pile that served there for years as a witness of the peace covenant that the two had made at a solemn meal. They called the pile of stones Galed (Hebrewגַּלְעֵד, “Pile of Testimony”) and “ Mizpah ” (Hebrewמצפה'Watchtower'; Gen 31, 46-53  EU ).

Jacob was afraid of meeting his brother Esau at home. The night before the two met, Jakob was attacked on the Jabbok River by a man who wrestled with him all night. Jakob's hip was so badly injured that he limped from then on. When dawn came, Jacob only let him go for a blessing. From the man who turned out to be a heavenly being, he was given the name Israel , "God's warrior", because he had wrestled and won with God and men. This is the last time in the Old Testament that a person will have physical contact with God (אֵל El ) had; neither Moses nor David received this honor. The next day the two brothers met. Contrary to what he had feared, Esau was in a friendly mood towards Jakob.

Jacob's descendants

Israel map from 1695

Twelve tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel descended from Jacob's sons :

“Jacob had twelve sons. The sons of Leah were Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, and Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah Rachel's handmaid were Dan and Naftali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid, were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-Aram . Gen 35,22-27  EU "

Esau's descendants later have a dispute over land rights with Jacob's sons. When Jacob's daughter Dina is raped by the son of a foreign landlord, her brothers use ruse to kill all the men in the city and take all women, children and animals with them as prey. Jacob's favorite wife Rahel dies with the birth of their youngest son Benjamin. A little later his father Isaac dies, whom he buries with his brother Esau.

Exodus to Egypt

Jacob now lives in the land of Canaan. He prefers and gives presents to his son Joseph , about which his brothers are very angry. When the opportunity arises, they want to kill him first, but then sell him to Midianite merchants. They send Joseph's brightly colored coat, which he had given him, soaked in goat blood to their father. Jacob, who thinks that his son was killed by a wild animal, mourns him for a long time. About 22 years later, Jacob reunites with his son Joseph - who is now the second highest man in Egypt - because a seven-year famine has broken out across the country. Joseph had all of his relatives move to Egypt , where he gave them the best part of Goshen . Before his death, Jacob had Joseph called and explained to him that he recognized the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh , as his own sons:

“Now your two sons, who were born to you in Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are to be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh should be as important to me as Reuben and Simeon. But the offspring that you begat after them shall be yours; they are to be named after the names of their brothers in their inheritance. Gen 48.5–7  EU "

When Jacob ( Israel ) blesses the two, he gives Efraim the younger the blessing of the firstborn and Manasseh the elder the blessing of the secondborn; Although Joseph protests against this and tries to get his father to give a blessing according to the order of the births, the latter insists on the order chosen by him.

“He blessed them that day with the words: Israel will bless you with your name and say: God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh. So Israel put Ephraim before Manasseh. Gen 48.20-21  EU "

Jacob blesses his sons ( Illumination by François Maitre, 1475 to 1480)

Jacob's death and burial

Immediately before his death, Jacob (Israel) calls his twelve biological sons together and instructs them to bury him in the cave on the property of the Hittite Efron, on the property of Machpelah near Mamre in Canaan. The property had bought Abraham von Efron as his own tomb. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there, as was Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and Jacob had also buried his wife Leah there.

Jacob finally dies after staying in Egypt for 17 years. At Joseph's request, his father's body is embalmed. It takes the doctors forty days to do this, and the Egyptians weep for seventy days:

“Then Joseph asked Pharaoh to be allowed to bring his father's body to Canaan, as he had sworn to him. And so Joseph went up. All Pharaoh's courtiers, the elders of his court and all the elders of Egypt, the whole house of Joseph, his brothers and his father's house went with him. In Goren-Atad across the Jordan they held a seven-day great funeral service. The locals, the Canaanites, who observed the celebration, said: "The Egyptians are holding a worthy funeral service there." That is why the place is called Abel-Mizrajim (Egyptian mourning). Gen 49,28-50  EU "

family tree

Ruben Simeon Levi Judah Issachar Zebulun Dina Joseph Benjamin Dan Naftali Gad Ashtray

Remembrance day

The following churches commemorate Jacob on February 5th :

Jacob in Islam

Jacob is considered one of the prophets of Islam , he is mentioned in the Koran as يعقوب Yaʿqūb :

  • 3:84 Say: We believe in Allah and what (as revelation) is upon us, and what is revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes (of Israel), and what is revealed to Moses, Jesus and the prophets received from their Lord without us making a difference to any of them (to the others). We are devoted to him.
  • 4: 163 We have given you (Mohammed) the (revelations) (as well) as (before) Noah and the prophets after him: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes (Israel), Jesus, Job, Jonas, Aaron and Solomon. And we gave David a psalter (zabuur).
  • 38: 45–47 And remember our (tirelessly) active and discerning servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! We have specially honored them with the reminder of the (otherworldly) dwelling. With us (in the hereafter) they belong to the chosen and pious (al-akhyaar).

See also


Web links

Commons : Jakob  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. * Hans Rechenmacher : Old Hebrew personal names, Münster 2012, p. 30.143.
  2. Galed. In: Bible Lexicon. bibelkommentare.de, accessed on May 2, 2016 .
  3. ^ February 5 in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints