Biblical name, from Hebrew Yaakov. This was borne by perhaps the most important of all the patriarchs in the Book of Genesis. Jacob was the father of twelve sons, who gave their names to the twelve tribes of Israel. He was the son of Isaac and Rebecca and twin brother of Esau. According to the story in Genesis, he was the cunning younger twin, who persuaded his brother Esau to part with his right to his inheritance in exchange for a bowl of soup (‘a mess of pottage’). Later, he tricked his blind and dying father into blessing him in place of Esau. The derivation of the name has been much discussed. It is traditionally explained as being derived from Hebrew akev ‘heel’ and to have meant ‘heel grabber’, because when Jacob was born ‘his hand took hold of Esau's heel’ (Genesis 25:26). This is interpreted later in the Bible as ‘supplanter’ Esau himself remarks, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times’ (Genesis 27:36). Jacob is especially common as a Jewish given name, although it also became very popular among the Puritans from the 16th century onwards, and has again been widely used since the 1990s. Compare James.