“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1
In an era not that long ago labeling by family name, heritage, community, region, religion, and nation was an important part of society. In the modern era one’s lineage or family name means far less than it did just 500 years ago in Shakespeare’s day. In Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Juliet cares not that Romeo is from her family’s rival’s house of Montague. Juliet muses “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?”
This 16th century idea, are family names meaningless? Accidental? Not according to the Bible! Isaiah 43:1 “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
In the upcoming part 2 of this series we will see the meanings of the patriarch’s names from the generations of Adam to Noah, telling the story of redemption. In fact, names all throughout the Biblical accounts will give us all kinds of insight and understanding of how God is all about genealogy!
My wife and I had been told for months “its a boy” and that was after the latest and greatest 4D equipment had been used. We had the perfect boys name ready, the room painted in hues of blue and all my biker buddies threw a “biker baby shower” complete with a leather jacket for the lil guy. Then I walk in the room , meeting for the first time….. seeing first the pink bonnet…. and hear the words “its a girl” ! Now what?
It was in that moment that God whispered to me….. “You prayed for 14 years for a child of your own, you werent very specific….. and I still answered.” So we welcomed Grace, which means “simple elegance or refinement of movement” into the world; and I would have to agree, God moved and delivered an elegant and refined little girl. Her name means something to me in the same way your name means something to YHVH.
In my experience with many Bible studies, the participants would come to a long list of anglicized, Hebrew names and after attempting 3 or 4, they would skip the remainder due to difficulty or boredom. They miss the fact that these names are very very significant as these names have meaning far beyond what we realize today.
Realizing the fact Biblical names are often difficult to utter for westerners, I suggest the use of Strong’s Concordance as it provides the proper accents and emphases to climb this linguistic mountain. Unlike English, the Hebrew contains the same consistent vowel sounds: A=ah, E=eh, O=o, U=oo, I=ee.
This series will be an ongoing series dedicated to the significance of genealogy of the Bible. To illustrate, in the book of Daniel we meet the young Hebrews who would be tossed into the blazing furnace: Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah and, of course, Daniel. The watchman Nebuchadnezzar assigns to their care, the eunuch, Ashpenaz or “horse face”! Can you imagine what this guy looked like?
The names of the Hebrew captives were changed by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, to names that honored his gods, as was the custom. Hananiah (Yah has favored) became Shadrach (who is like the moon god), Mishael (who is God) became Meshach (who is Hooak), Azariah (Yah has helped) was renamed Abednego (who is Hebo), and Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar (protect him oh Ba’al).
Know that your name is more than just a calling card, it is important, it is greater than riches!