Wrestling with God and the name Naphtali

Genesis Bible Background

01.12.2019 – Old Testament: Gen 30.7–8

To read the Bible in a year, read Genesis 29–30 on January 12, In the year of our Lord Christ 2019

By Don Ruhl

You may know that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel after he had wrestled with an angel. Israel means prince of God. A son of Jacob had a name that showed that his mother had gone through wrestlings with God:

And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali (Genesis 30.7–8).

Naphtali means “My Wresting.” Rachel and her sister Leah competed with one another for Jacob’s love by having children, sons in particular. While Jacob loved Rachel more, he did seem to learn to love Leah. Anyway, Rachel could not have children initially but gave Jacob children through her handmaid. She saw Naphtali as a blessing for helping her to win her husband’s love.


  • What do you do when you have struggled in life and finally the Lord blesses you?
  • If you had children, why did you give them the names that you did?

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2 thoughts on “Wrestling with God and the name Naphtali

  1. I always loved the name Naphtali and wondered why it isn’t used as much as other OT names. It’s been a while since I read Genesis, but I vaguely remember Naphtali somehow being connected with grace, like that of a gazelle, in addition to the meaning of wrestling.


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