Naphtali, Nephthalim [Năph'talī, Nĕph'tha lĭm]—obtained by wrestling. The sixth son of Jacob and second by Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. Rachel gave her son his name because she had wrestled in prayer for God’s favor and blessing (Gen. 30:8; 35:25). The tribe that descended from Naphtali bears his name (Num. 1:15, 42).
In the last words of Jacob (Gen. 49:21), the patriarch speaks of Naphtali as “a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words”—a fluent orator but as erratic as the wild gazelle. Henry Thorne wrote of him,
He is gifted undoubtedly, but he has no self-control. He will scamper through life aimlessly and without a goal. His uncontrolled energy may some day be his ruin. He may possibly leap over a fence, but he may also jump into a ditch. Byron was gifted, but of him it has been said—
He laid his hand upon the ocean’s main,
And played familiar with his hoary locks.
He was a man of brilliant talent and magnificent capacity, but he was also “a hind let loose.” There was a wild extravagance in his career of wrong-doing that marred his influence and spoiled his life.
Nothing but divine grace can restrain those who are erratic. He who rebuked the rude tempest with a word (Job 38:11; Mark 4:39) and produced a great calm, can rebuke the turbulent and the reckless in any nature, and cause the energy that is wasted by folly to flow into channels of usefulness. God can make the rebel a priest and a king.