Jacob is a common male given name and a less well-known surname. It is a cognate of James, derived from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Yaʿqob), the name of the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob son of Isaac and Rebecca. The name comes either from the Hebrew root עקב ʿqb meaning "to follow, to be behind" but also "to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach", or from the word for "heel", עֲקֵב ʿaqeb.
In the narrative of Genesis, it refers to the circumstances of Jacob's birth when he held on to the heel of his older twin brother Esau (Genesis 25:26).
The name is etymologized (in a direct speech by the character Esau) in Genesis 27:36, adding the
significance of Jacob having "supplanted" his elder brother by buying his birthright.In a Christian context, Jacob – James in English form – is the name for several people in the New Testament: (1) the apostle James, son of Zebedee, (2) another apostle, James, son of Alphaeus, and (3) James the brother of Jesus (James the Just), who led the original Nazarene Community in Jerusalem. There are several Jacobs in the genealogy of Jesus.
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