El Elohe Israel

EL ELOHE ISRAEL (ĕl ē-lō'hĕ ĭz'ra-ĕl). An altar erected by Jacob when he settled near Shechem (Gen.33.20). The name means “the God [who is] the God of Israel.” At the beginning of this pilgrimage, Jacob vowed that if the Lord would bring him safely back again then the Lord would be his God (Gen.28.20-Gen.28.21). He kept this vow, acknowledging his God and believingly incorporating his own new name.


EL-ELOHE-ISRAEL ĕl ĕl’ ō he ĭz’ rĭ əl (אֵ֖ל אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל, God is the God of Israel). The name of an altar erected by Jacob.

When Jacob returned from Paddan-aram with his family, he purchased a portion of a field from the “sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father,” on which he had camped (Gen 33:18-20). This Canaanite family ruled Shechem which made it possible for Israel to have a permanent shrine here. This later proved useful when they took the land under Joshua (Josh 24:32). On this lot Jacob erected an altar and named it “El is the God of Israel,” a confessional altar or shrine which appropriated the Canaanite deity name “El” (the Mighty One) for use as one of the designations of Israel’s God.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

el-e-lo’-he-iz’-ra-el, el-el’-o-he-iz’-ra-el (’el ’elohe yisra’el, translated "God, the God of Israel" in the American Revised Version, margin and the King James Version margin):

Found only in Ge 33:20 as the name given to the altar erected at Shechem by Jacob, henceforth, known as Israel, on the parcel of ground purchased by him from the inhabitants of Shechem, his first encampment of length and importance since the return to Palestine from Paddan-aram and the eventful night at Peniel (Ge 32:30). This unusual combination of names has given occasion for much speculation and for various text emendations. Already the Septuagint sought to meet the difficulty by reading wa-yiqra’ ’el ’elohe yisra’el, "and he called upon the God of Israel," instead of the wa-yiqra’ lo ’el of Massoretic Text, "and he called it El" etc. Wellhausen, followed by Dillmann, Driver and others, changes "altar" to "pillar," because the Hebrew verb, hitstsibh, is used with mitstsbhah, "pillar," in Ge 35:14,20, so making this religious act a parallel to that at Bethel. But Delitzsch, New Commentary on Genesis, properly rejects this purely fanciful change, and understands the compound name as the altar’s inscription. Dillmann well suggests that "altar" (or "pillar") be supplied, reading thus: "called it the altar of El, the God of Israel." The peculiar phrase is best and most readily understood in its close connection with the struggle at Peniel, recorded in Ge 32. Being victorious in that struggle, Jacob received the new name "Israel"; and to his first altar in Palestine he gave that name of God which appeared in his own new name, further explaining it by the appositive phrase "Elohe-Israel." Thus, his altar was called, or dedicated to, "El, the God of Israel."