After the traumatic events of this week’s reading Jacob acquired a new name. From now on he was to be Israel.
He is not the only Biblical figure whose name was changed – other examples are Abram who becomes Abraham, Sarai who becomes Sarah and Hoshea who becomes Joshua.
In their cases however the existing name was retained with amendments, whilst with Jacob it was an altogether new name.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested that each name indicates a different path to God. “Jacob” is literally “supplanter”. Jacob used deviousness and subtlety to win God’s approval; Israel used noble conduct, even to the extent of struggling against opposition and attack.