26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Even after his thigh was dislocated Jacob did not give up the fight! We don’t know at what point of night this wrestling match began, but it seems to have continued for a very long while. Now the sun is rising, heralding the day in which Jacob must stand before his brother Esau, and he will not quit the fight until he receives some assurance that all will be well.
The messenger asks Jacob his name, and Jacob delivers the only one he has ever had, the one given of his father. Now, like his grandfather Abram, Jacob receives another from God. The name Israel is comprised of two parts, “isra” which means to fight or strive, and “el” which means God. Together they mean “God strives” or “God shall fight.” Jacob had prevailed with God, and now God would fight for Jacob’s cause.
The angel does not make any promises about the meeting with Esau, though. Jacob is going to have to face what follows, he won’t be let off the hook there, but he is being assured that God will prevail with him through whatever that meeting entails.
Interestingly, Jacob still continues to be referred to as “Jacob” throughout the rest of his biblical record and not “Israel.” This is different from Abram and Sarai, who are exclusively referred to as Abraham and Sarah after their new names are given. Some have pointed out that the bible seems to treat Jacob as the man, but Israel as his legacy, almost as though the persona that he exuded past mortality is the identity which is to be referred to as Israel. Or maybe it signifies that Jacob had trouble embracing the new identity God had called him to. Or maybe it’s just a clerical error. Or maybe it’s something else entirely, I don’t believe we have any definitive answer.