Why did Naphtali name his first son Yachtzeal (יַחֲצִיאֵל)?

The name is mentioned (as יַחְצְאֵל) in Bereishis 46:24 and Bamidbar 26:48, and (as יַחֲצִיאֵל) in Divrei Hayomim I 7:13, but is there any explanation for the name, which apparently means that Hashem divided?

This question arose because, in Gittin 87, Rashi uses יַחְצְאֵל as an example for a witness signed on a Get, a choice that seems random, unless an explanation for the name explains the connection.

  • Very interesting question! Pulling this out of nowhere, but perhaps it's use by gittin is a comment on the concept of hashgocha in creating marriages (how could they then fail?) and that just as Hashem arranged the marriage, he also arranged the split? Mar 10, 2016 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


Medrash Rabba 94:7 says as follows.

יחצאל שחיצו אלוהות בידן והן מצחצחין בשיניהם ומלעיגים בשפתותיהן

My translation - Anyone may correct if they can translate better - "they split idols with their hands, and grinded their teeth, and smirked with their lips"

I have heard in the past that when a parent gives a child a name it is a prophecy as to what they will do in the future. Perhaps Naftali saw that the progeny that will come from Yachtzael will have the traits described above.


According to Daat Mikra on Beresheet 46:24, "Yachtze'el" means Hashem will divide/cut out for him a good portion.

As to why Rashi brings "Yachtze'el", that's because he brought an example of someone whose father was named Naftali and Yachtze'el was Naftali's eldest. Perhaps the question should be how did Rashi get from someone named Yosef ben Shimon to someone named Yachtze'el ben Naftali?

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