Meaning & History
From the Hebrew name יִשְׂרָאֵל (Yisra'el) meaning "God contends", from the roots שָׂרָה (sarah) meaning "to contend, to fight" and אֵל ('el) meaning "God". In the Old Testament, Israel (who was formerly named Jacob; see Genesis 32:28) wrestles with an angel. The ancient and modern states of Israel took their names from him.
Jacob wrestling the angel, in a detail from a fresco by Eugène Delacroix (1861)