The name Israel was given to Jacob because as a prince he had power with God
Q. Some people say that the Jews are different from the Israelites and try to make a distinction today. What is your opinion?
A. There are some who believe the two terms mean different things but in actuality they are really the same people.
There have been many false, theological concepts that have developed over the years based on this misunderstanding.
So, let’s do a basic study in definitions and get to the heart of the matter, using Easton’s Bible Dictionary as a source.
In the Bible, there are actually three terms used to describe the same people; Hebrew, Jew and Israelite.
The name "Hebrew" is a name applied to the Israelites in the Bible only used by foreigners (Gen 39.14,17,41.12).
It is also used by the Israelites themselves when talking to a foreigner( Gen 40.15, Ex 1.9).
In addition it is used when compared to other nations (Gen 43.32, Ex 1.3,7,15, Deut 15.12). In the New Testament the same contrast exists (Acts 6.1, Phil 3.5).
The name "Israel" is the given to Jacob after his struggle at Peniel (Gen 32.28) because as a "prince" he had power with God. This is the most common name given to his descendants.
All 12 tribes are called "Israelites" or the "children of Israel" (Josh 3.17, 7.25, Judges 8.27, Jer 3.21) and also the "house of Israel" (Ex 16.31, 40.38). This name is sometimes used for the "true Israel" (Psalms 73.1, Isaiah 45.17, 49.3 John 1.47, Rom 9.6,11.26).