International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
GOD, NAMES OF
" I. INTRODUCTORY
1. The Phrase "His Name"
II. PERSONAL NAMES OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
4. 'Adhon, 'Adhonay
5. Yahweh (Yahweh)
6. Tsur (Rock)
III. DESCRIPTIVE NAMES OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
8. Yahweh Tsebha'oth
9. "I Am That I Am"
IV. New Testament NAMES OF GOD
3. Descriptive and Figurative Names
To an extent beyond the appreciation of modern and western minds the people of Biblical times and lands valued the name of the person. They always gave to it symbolical or character meaning.
While our modern names are almost exclusively designatory, and intended merely for identification, the Biblical names were also descriptive, and often prophetic. Religious significance nearly always inhered in the name, a parent relating his child to the Deity, or declaring its consecration to the Deity, by joining the name of the Deity with the service which the child should render, or perhaps commemorating in a name the favor of God in the gracious gift of the child, e.g. Nathaniel ("gift of God"); Samuel ("heard of God"); Adonijah ("Yahweh is my Lord"), etc. It seems to us strange that at its birth, the life and character of a child should be forecast by its parents in a name; and this unique custom has been regarded by an unsympathetic criticism as evidence of the origin of such names and their attendant narratives long subsequent to the completed life itself; such names, for example, as Abraham, Sarah, etc. But that this was actually done, and that it was regarded as a matter of course, is proved by the name given to Our Lord at His birth: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people" (Matthew 1:21). It is not unlikely that the giving of a character name represented the parents' purpose and fidelity in the child's training, resulting necessarily in giving to the child's life that very direction, which the name indicated. A child's name, therefore, became both a prayer and a consecration, and its realization in character became often a necessary psychological effect. Great honor or dishonor was attached to a name. The Old Testament writings contain many and varied instances of this. Sometimes contempt for certain reprobate men would be most expressively indicated by a change of name, e.g. the change of Esh-baal, "man of Baal," to Ish-bosheth, "man of shame" (2 Samuel 2:8), and the omission of Yahweh from the name of the apostate king, Ahaz (2 Kings 15:38, etc.). The name of the last king of Judah was most expressively changed by Nebuchadnezzar from Mattaniah to Zedekiah, to assure his fidelity to his overlord who made him king (2 Kings 24:17).
See NAMES, PROPER.
1. The Phrase "His Name":
Since the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament are essentially for purposes of revelation, and since the Hebrews laid such store by names, we should confidently expect them to make the Divine name a medium of revelation of the first importance. People accustomed by long usage to significant character indications in their own names, necessarily would regard the names of the Deity as expressive of His nature. The very phrase "name of Yahweh," or "His name," as applied to the Deity in Biblical usage, is most interesting and suggestive, sometimes expressing comprehensively His revelation in Nature (Psalm 8:1; compare 138:2); or marking the place of His worship, where men will call upon His name (Deuteronomy 12:5); or used as a synonym of His various attributes, e.g. faithfulness (Isaiah 48:9), grace (Psalm 23:3), His honor (Psalm 79:9), etc. "Accordingly, since the name of God denotes this God Himself as He is revealed, and as He desires to be known by His creatures, when it is said that God will make a name for Himself by His mighty deeds, or that the new world of the future shall be unto Him for a name, we can easily understand that the name of God is often synonymous with the glory of God, and that the expressions for both are combined in the utmost variety of ways, or used alternately" (Schultz, Old Testament Theology, English translation, I, 124-25; compare Psalm 72:19 Isaiah 63:14; also Davidson, Old Testament Theol., 37-38).
From the important place which the Divine name occupies in revelation, we would expect frequency of occurrence and diversity of form; and this is just that which we find to be true. The many forms or varieties of the name will be considered under the following heads:
(1) Absolute or Personal Names,
(2) Attributive, or Qualifying Names, and
(3) Names of God in the New Testament. Naturally and in course of time attributive names tend to crystallize through frequent use and devotional regard into personal names; e.g. the attributive adjective qadhosh, "holy," becomes the personal, transcendental name for Deity in Job and Isaiah. For fuller details of each name reference may be made to separate articles.
II. Absolute or Personal Names of God in the Old Testament:
The first form of the Divine name in the Bible is 'Elohim, ordinarily translated "God" (Genesis 1:1). This is the most frequently used name in the Old Testament, as its equivalent theos, is in the New Testament, occurring in Genesis alone approximately 200 t. It is one of a group of kindred words, to which belong also 'El and 'Eloah. (1) Its form is plural, but the construction is uniformly singular, i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective, unless used of heathen divinities (Psalm 96:5; Psalm 97:7). It is characteristic of Hebrew that extension, magnitude and dignity, as well as actual multiplicity, are expressed by the plural. It is not reasonable, therefore, to assume that plurality of form indicates primitive Semitic polytheism. On the contrary, historic Hebrew is unquestionably and uniformly monotheistic.
(2) The derivation is quite uncertain. Gesenius, Ewald and others find its origin in 'ul, "to be strong," from which also are derived 'ayil, "ram," and 'elah, "terebinth"; it is then an expanded plural form of 'el; others trace it to 'alah, "to terrify," and the singular form is found in the infrequent 'eloah, which occurs chiefly in poetical books; BDB inclines to the derivation from 'alah, "to be strong," as the root of the three forms, 'El, `Eloah and 'Elohim, although admitting that the whole question is involved in uncertainty (for full statement see BDB, under the word.); a somewhat fanciful suggestion is the Arabic root 'ul, "to be in front," from which comes the meaning "leader"; and still more fanciful is the suggested connection with the preposition 'el, signifying God as the "goal" of man's life and aspiration. The origin must always lie in doubt, since the derivation is prehistoric, and the name, with its kindred words 'El and 'Eloah, is common to Semitic languages and religions and beyond the range of Hebrew records.
(3) It is the reasonable conclusion that the meaning is "might" or "power"; that it is common to Semitic language; that the form is plural to express majesty or "all-mightiness," and that it is a generic, rather than a specific personal, name for Deity, as is indicated by its application to those who represent the Deity (Judges 5:8 Psalm 82:1) or who are in His presence (1 Samuel 28:13).
The singular form of the preceding name, 'Eloah, is confined in its use almost exclusively to poetry, or to poetic expression, being characteristic of the Book of Job, occurring oftener in that book than in all other parts of the Old Testament. It is, in fact, found in Job oftener than the elsewhere more ordinary plural 'Elohim. For derivation and meaning see above under 1 (2). Compare also the Aramaic form, 'elah, found frequently in Ezra and Daniel.
In the group of Semitic languages, the most common word for Deity is El ('el), represented by the Babylonian ilu and the Arabic 'Allah. It is found throughout the Old Testament, but oftener in Job and Psalms than in all the other books. It occurs seldom in the historical books, and not at all in Lev. The same variety of derivations is attributed to it as to ELOHIM (which see), most probable of which is 'ul, "to be strong." BDB interprets 'ul as meaning "to be in front," from which came 'ayil, "ram" the one in front of the flock, and 'elah, the prominent "terebinth," deriving ['El] from 'alah, "to be strong." It occurs in many of the more ancient names; and, like ['Elohim], it is used of pagan gods. It is frequently combined with nouns or adjectives to express the Divine name with reference to particular attributes or phases of His being, as 'El `Elyon, 'El-Ro'i, etc. (see below under III, "Attributive Names").
4. 'Adhon, 'Adhonay:
An attributive name, which in prehistoric Hebrew had already passed over into a generic name of God, is 'Adhon, 'Adhonay, the latter formed from the former, being the construct plural, 'adhone, with the 1st person ending -ay, which has been lengthened to ay and so retained as characteristic of the proper name and distinguishing it from the possessive "my Lord." the King James Version does not distinguish, but renders both as possessive, "my Lord" (Judges 6:15; Judges 13:8), and as personal name (Psalm 2:4); the Revised Version (British and American) also, in Psalm 16:2, is in doubt, giving "my Lord," possessive, in text and "the Lord" in the margin. 'Adhonay, as a name of Deity, emphasizes His sovereignty (Psalm 2:4 Isaiah 7:7), and corresponds closely to Kurios of the New Testament. It is frequently combined with Yahweh (Genesis 15:8 Isaiah 7:7, etc.) and with 'Elohim (Psalm 86:12). Its most significant service in Massoretic Text is the use of its vowels to point the unpronounceable tetragrammaton YHWH, indicating that the word " 'Adhonay" should be spoken aloud instead of "Yah-weh." This combination of vowels and consonants gives the transliteration "Yahweh," adopted by the American Standard Revised Version, while the other English Versions of the Bible, since Coverdale, represents the combination by the capitals LORD. Septuagint represents it by Kurios.
5. Yahweh (Yahweh):
The name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel is (Yahweh, a combination of the tetragrammaton (YHWH) with the vowels of 'Adhonay, transliterated as Yehowah, but read aloud by the Hebrews 'adhonay). While both derivation and meaning are lost to us in the uncertainties of its ante-Biblical origin, the following inferences seem to be justified by the facts:
(1) This name was common to religions other than Israel's, according to Friedr. Delitzsch, Hommel, Winckler, and Guthe (EB, under the word), having been found in Babylonian inscriptions. Ammonite, Arabic and Egyptian names appear also to contain it (compare Davidson, Old Testament Theol., 52); but while, like 'Elohim, it was common to primitive Semitic religion, it became Israel's distinctive name for the Deity.
(2) It was, therefore, not first made known at the call of Moses (Exodus 3:13-16; Exodus 6:2-8), but, being already known, was at that time given a larger revelation and interpretation: God, to be known to Israel henceforth under the name "Yahweh" and in its fuller significance, was the One sending Moses to deliver Israel; "when I shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said. I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE. say. I WILL BE hath sent me" (Exodus 3:13, 14 margin). The name is assumed as known in the narrative of Genesis; it also occurs in pre-Mosaic names (Exodus 6:20 1 Chronicles 2:25; 1 Chronicles 7:8).
(3) The derivation is from the archaic chawah, "to be," better "to become," in Biblical Hebrew hayah; this archaic use of w for y appears also in derivatives of the similar chayah, "to live," e.g. chawwah in Genesis 3:20.
(4) It is evident from the interpretative passages (Exodus 3; Exodus 6) that the form is the fut. of the simple stem (Qal) and not future of the causative (Hiph`il) stem in the sense "giver of life"-an idea not borne out by any of the occurrences of the word. The fanciful theory that the word is a combination of the future, present and perfect tenses of the verb, signifying "the One who will be, is, and was," is not to be taken seriously (Stier, etc., in Oehler's Old Testament Theology, in the place cited.).
(5) The meaning may with some confidence be inferred from Origen's transliteration, Iao, the form in Samaritan, Iabe, the form as combined in Old Testament names, and the evident signification in Exodus 3 and other passages, to be that of the simple future, yahweh, "he will be." It does not express causation, nor existence in a metaphysical sense, but the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future. And thus it became bound up with the Messianic hope, as in the phrase, "the Day of Yahweh," and consequently both it and the Septuagint translation Kurios were applied by the New Testament as titles of Christ.
(6) It is the personal name of God, as distinguished from such generic or essential names as 'El, 'Elohim, Shadday, etc. Characteristic of the Old Testament is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Yahweh is His name as a person. It is illogical, certainly, that the later Hebrews should have shrunk from its pronunciation, in view of the appropriateness of the name and of the Old Testament insistence on the personality of God, who as a person has this name. the American Standard Revised Version quite correctly adopts the transliteration "Yahweh" to emphasize its significance and purpose as a personal name of God revealed.
6. Tsur (Rock):
Five times in the "Song" of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31) the word tsur, "Rock," is used as a title of God. It occurs also in the Psalms, Isaiah and poetical passages of other books, and also in proper names, Elizur, Zuriel, etc. Once in the King James Version (Isaiah 44:8) it is translated "God," but "Rock" in the American Standard Revised Version and the American Revised Version, margin. The effort to interpret this title as indicating the animistic origin of Old Testament religion is unnecessary and a pure product of the imagination. It is customary for both Old Testament and New Testament writers to use descriptive names of God: "rock," "fortress," "shield," "light," "bread," etc., and is in harmony with all the rich figurativeness of the Scriptures; the use of the article in many of the cases cited further corroborates the view that the word is intended to be a descriptive title, not the name of a Nature-deity. It presents the idea of God as steadfast: "The appellation of God as tsur, `rock,' `safe retreat,' in Deuteronomy refers to this" (Oehler, Old Testament Theology). It often occurs, in a most striking figure, with the pers. suffix as "my rock," "their rock," to express confidence (Psalm 28:1).
The name (qadhosh, "holy") is found frequently in Isaiah and Psalms, and occasionally in the other prophets. It is characteristic of Isaiah, being found 32 times in that book. It occurs often in the phrase qedhosh yisra'el, "Holy One of Israel." The derivation and meaning remain in doubt, but the customary and most probable derivation is from qadhash, "to be separate," which best explains its use both of man and of the Deity. When used of God it signifies: (1) His transcendence, His separateness above all other beings, His aloneness as compared to other gods; (2) His peculiar relation to His people Israel unto whom He separated Himself, as He did not unto other nations. In the former sense Isaiah used it of His sole deity (40:25), in the latter of His peculiar and unchanging covenant-relation to Israel (43:3; 48:17), strikingly, expressed in the phrase "Holy One of Israel." Qadhosh was rather attributive than personal, but became personal in the use of such absolute theists as Job and Isaiah. It expresses essential Deity, rather than personal revelation.
In the patriarchal literature, and in Job particularly, where it is put into the mouths of the patriarchs, this name appears sometimes in the compound 'el shadday, sometimes alone. While its root meaning also is uncertain, the suggested derivation from shadhadh, "to destroy," "to terrify," seems most probable, signifying the God who is manifested by the terribleness of His mighty acts. "The Storm God," from shadha', "to pour out," has been suggested, but is improbable; and even more so the fanciful she, and day, meaning "who is sufficient." Its use in patriarchal days marks an advance over looser Semitic conceptions to the stricter monotheistic idea of almightiness, and is in accord with the early consciousness of Deity in race or individual as a God of awe, or even terror. Its monotheistic character is in harmony with its use in the Abrahamic times, and is further corroborated by its parallel in Septuagint and New Testament, pantokrator, "all-powerful."
III. Descriptive Names of God in the Old Testament:
It is often difficult to distinguish between the personal and the attributive names of God, the two divisions necessarily shading into each other. Some of the preceding are really attributive, made personal by usage. The following are the most prominent descriptive or attributive names.
This name ('abhir), translated in English Versions of the Bible "Mighty One," is always combined with Israel or Jacob; its root is 'abhar, "to be strong" from which is derived the word 'ebher, "pinion," used of the strong wing of the eagle (Isaiah 40:31), figuratively of God in Deuteronomy 32:11. It occurs in Jacob's blessing (Genesis 49:24), in a prayer for the sanctuary (Psalm 132:2, 5), and in Isaiah (1:24; 49:26:00; 60:16), to express the assurance of the Divine strength in behalf of the oppressed in Israel (Isaiah 1:24), or in behalf of Israel against his oppressors; it is interesting to note that this name was first used by Jacob himself.
The name 'El is combined with a number of descriptive adjectives to represent God in His various attributes; and these by usage have become names or titles of God. For the remarkable phrase 'EL-'ELOHE-ISRAEL (Genesis 33:20), see separate article
This name (`elyon, "highest") is a derivative of `alah, "to go up." It is used of persons or things to indicate their elevation or exaltation: of Israel, favored above other nations (Deuteronomy 26:19), of the aqueduct of "the upper pool" (Isaiah 7:3), etc. This indicates that its meaning when applied to God is the "Exalted One," who is lifted far above all gods and men. It occurs alone (Deuteronomy 32:8 Psalm 18:13), or in combination with other names of God, most frequently with El (Genesis 14:18 Psalm 78:35), but also with Yahweh (Psalm 7:17; Psalm 97:9), or with Elohim (Psalm 56:2 the King James Version; Psalm 78:56). Its early use (Genesis 14:18 f) points to a high conception of Deity, an unquestioned monotheism in the beginnings of Hebrew history.
The ancient Hebrews were in constant struggle for their land and their liberties, a struggle most intense and patriotic in the heroic days of Saul and David, and in which there was developed a band of men whose great deeds entitled them to the honorable title "mighty men" of valor (gibborim). These were the knights of David's "Round Table." In like manner the Hebrew thought of his God as fighting for him, and easily then this title was applied to God as the Mighty Man of war, occurring in David's psalm of the Ark's Triumphant Entry (Psalm 24:8), in the allegory of the Messiah-King (Psalm 45:3), either alone or combined with El (Isaiah 9:6 Jeremiah 32:18), and sometimes with Yahweh (Isaiah 42:13).
When Hagar was fleeing from Sarah's persecutions, Yahweh spoke to her in the wilderness of Shur, words of promise and cheer. Whereupon "she called the name of Yahweh that spake unto her, Thou art El roi" (Genesis 16:13 margin). In the text the word ro'i, deriv. of ra'ah, "to see," is translated "that seeth," literally, "of sight." This is the only occurrence of this title in the Old Testament.
One of the covenant attributes of God, His righteousness, is spoken of so often that it passes from adjective to substantive, from attribute to name, and He is called "Righteous" (tsaddiq), or "the Righteous One." The word is never transliterated but always translated in English Versions of the Bible, although it might just as properly be considered a Divine name as `Elyon or Qadhosh. The root tsadhaq, "to be straight" or "right," signifies fidelity to a standard, and is used of God's fidelity to His own nature and to His covenant-promise (Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 42:6; compare Hosea 2:19); it occurs alone (Psalm 34:17), with El (Deuteronomy 32:4), with Elohim (Ezra 9:15 Psalm 7:9; Psalm 116:5), but most frequently with Yahweh (Psalm 129:4, etc.). In Exodus 9:27 Pharaoh, in acknowledging his sin against Yahweh, calls Him `Yahweh the Righteous,' using the article. The suggestive combination, "Yahweh our Righteousness," is the name given to David's "righteous Branch" (Jeremiah 23:6) and properly should be taken as a proper noun-the name of the Messiah-King.
Frequently in the Pentateuch, most often in the 3 versions of the Commandments (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14 Deuteronomy 5:9), God is given the title "Jealous" (qanna'), most specifically in the phrase "Yahweh, whose name is Jealous" (Exodus 34:14). This word, however, did not bear the evil meaning now associated with it in our usage, but rather signified "righteous zeal," Yahweh's zeal for His own name or glory (compare Isaiah 9:7, "the zeal of Yahweh," qin'ah; also Zechariah 1:14; Zechariah 8:2).
8. Yahweh Tsebha'-oth:
Connected with the personal and covenant name Yahweh, there is found frequently the word Sabaoth (tsebha'oth, "hosts"). Invariably in the Old Testament it is translated "hosts" (Isaiah 1:9 Psalm 46:7, 11, etc.), but in the New Testament it is transliterated twice, both in the Greek and English (Romans 9:29 James 5:4). The passage in Roman is a quotation from Isaiah 1:9 through Septuagint, which does not translate, but transliterates the Hebrew. Origin and meaning are uncertain. It is used of heavenly bodies and earthly forces (Genesis 2:1); of the army of Israel (2 Samuel 8:16); of the Heavenly beings (Psalm 103:21; Psalm 148:2 Daniel 4:35). It is probable that the title is intended to include all created agencies and beings, of which Yahweh is maker and leader.
9. "I Am That I Am":
When God appeared to Moses at Sinai, commissioning him to deliver Israel; Moses, being well aware of the difficulty of impressing the people, asked by what name of God he should speak to them: "They shall say to me, What is his name?" Then "God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. say. I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14). The name of the Deity given here is similar to Yahweh except that the form is not 3rd person future, as in the usual form, but the 1st person ('ehyeh), since God is here speaking of Himself. The optional reading in the American Revised Version, margin is much to be preferred: "I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE," indicating His covenant pledge to be with and for Israel in all the ages to follow. For further explanation see above, II, 5.
IV. New Testament Names of God.
The variety of names which characterizes the Old Testament is lacking in the New Testament, where we are all but limited to two names, each of which corresponds to several in the Old Testament. The most frequent is the name "God" (Theos) occurring over 1,000 t, and corresponding to El, Elohim, etc., of the Old Testament.
It may, as ['Elohim], be used by accommodation of heathen gods; but in its true sense it expresses essential Deity, and as expressive of such it is applied to Christ as to the Father (John 20:28 Romans 9:5).
Five times "Lord" is a translation of despotes (Luke 2:29 Acts 4:24 2 Peter 2:1 the King James Version; Jude 1:4 Revelation 6:10 the King James Version). In each case there is evident emphasis on sovereignty and correspondence to the 'Adhon of the Old Testament. The most common Greek word for Lord is Kurios, representing both Yahweh and 'Adhonai of the Old Testament, and occurring upwards of 600 times. Its use for Yahweh was in the spirit of both the Hebrew scribes, who pointed the consonants of the covenant name with the vowels of Adhonay, the title of dominion, and of the Septuagint, which rendered this combination as Kurios. Consequently quotations from the Old Testament in which Yahweh occurs are rendered by Kurios. It is applied to Christ equally with the Father and the Spirit, showing that the Messianic hopes conveyed by the name Yahweh were for New Testament writers fulfilled in Jesus Christ; and that in Him the long hoped for appearance of Yahweh was realized.
3. Descriptive and Figurative Names:
As in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament various attributive, descriptive or figurative names are found, often corresponding to those in the Old Testament. Some of these are: The "Highest" or "Most High" hupsistos), found in this sense only in Luke (1:32, 35, 76; 2:14, etc.), and Equivalent to 'Elyon (see III, 3, above); "Almighty," Pantokrator (2 Corinthians 6:18 Revelation 1:8, etc.), corresponding to Shadday (see II, 8 above; see also ALMIGHTY); "Father," as in the Lord's Prayer, and elsewhere (Matthew 6:9; Matthew 11:25 John 17:25 2 Corinthians 6:18); "King" (1 Timothy 1:17); "King of kings" (1 Timothy 6:15); "King of kings," "Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16); "Potentate" (1 Timothy 6:15); "Master" (Kurios, Ephesians 6:9 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 6:10); "Shepherd," "Bishop" (1 Peter 2:25).
Theology of Old Testament by various authors: Oehler, Schultz, Davidson; Delitzsch, Psychology of the Old Testament; H.P. Smith, "Theophorous Names of OT" in Old Testament and Semitic Studies; Gray, HPN; "God" in HDB and EB.
I. THE FORM OF HEBREW NAMES
1. Various Types
3. Transposition of Parts
4. Methods of Abbreviation
II. THE RANGE OF PROPER NAMES
1. Personal Names
(1) Not Exclusively Descriptive
(2) Drawn from a Wide Field
(3) Influences Leading to Choice
(4) Popularity of Names: Hard to Determine
2. Geographical Names
III. CHARACTERISTICS OF BIBLICAL REFERENCES
1. Derivation of Names Manifest
2. The Narrator's Only Concern
3. Allusions Linked with Names
I. The Form of Hebrew Names.
1. Various Types:
The Hebrew proper name consists of a single word, a phrase, or a sentence.
(1) Where the name is a single word, other than a verb, it may be
(a) a common noun, concrete, as Barak, "lightning," Tola, "crimson worm," Elon, "oak," Achsah, "anklet," Deborah, "bee" or abstract, as Uzzah, "strength," Manoah, "rest," Hannah, "grace"; or either abstract or concrete, as Zebul, "habitation";
(b) a participle, as Saul, "asked," Zeruiah, "cleft";
(c) an adjective, as Ikkesh, "perverse," Maharai, "impetuous," Shimei, "famous"; or
(d) a word that may be either an adjective or an abstract noun according to circumstances. Such are formations after the norm of qaTTul, as shammua`, which are generally adjectives; and formations by means of the ending -am or -on, as Adullam, Zalmon, Gideon, or, with the rejection of the final -n, Shilo(h) and Solomo(n).
(2) The name may be a phrase, consisting of
(a) two nouns, as Penuel, "face of God," Samuel, "name of God," Ish-bosheth, "man of shame"; or
(b) an adjective and a noun, as Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh"; or
(c) a preposition and one or more nouns, as Besodeiah, "in the intimacy of Yahweh" (Nehemiah 3:6).
When the name is a sentence, the predicate may be
(a) a noun, the copula being implied, as Abijah, "Yah is a father," Eliab, "God is a father," Elimelech, "God is king"; or
(b) an adjective, as Tobijah, "Yah is good" (Zechariah 6:10); or
(c) a participle, as Obed-edom, "Edom is serving"; or
(d) a finite verb. This last type exhibits five or six varieties: the subject stands before a perfect, as Jonathan, "Yahweh hath given," Jehoshaphat, "Yahweh hath judged," Eleazar, "God hath helped," Elkanah, "God hath formed"; or before an imperfect, as Eliahba, "God hideth Himself"; or the subject comes after a perfect, as Benaiah, "Yahweh hath built," Shephatiah, "Yahweh hath judged," Asahel, "God hath made; or after an imperfect, as Jezreel, "God doth sow." Very often the subject is the pronoun included or implied in the verbal form, as Nathan, "he hath given," Hillel, "he hath praised," Jair, "he enlighteneth," Jephthah, "he openeth." Occasionally the predicate contains an object of the verb, as Shealtiel, "I have asked God" (Ezra 3:2), or a prepositional phrase, as Hephzibah, "my delight is in her" (2 Kings 21:1). The sentence-name is usually a declaration, but it may be an exhortation or a prayer, as Jerub-baal, "let Baal strive," and Hoshea, "save!" (Numbers 13:16), or it may be a question, as Micaiah, "who is like Yahweh?" All of the foregoing illustrations have been taken from the Books of Judges and Samuel, unless otherwise noted.
The proper name is treated as one word, whether on analysis it consists of a single word, a phrase, or a sentence; and as such it is subject to the laws of accent and quantity which govern the Hebrew word.
(1) A common noun used as a name undergoes the variations of pronunciation due to the custom of lengthening a short vowel in pause and to the laws which control the aspiration of certain labials, linguals, and palatals. Thus, the name Perez, "breach," which appears also as Pharez in the King James Version of the Old Testament, occurs in the Hebrew text in the four forms perets, parets, pherets and pharets (Ruth 4:18 Nehemiah 11:4, 6).
(2) In a name consisting of a phrase the normal advance of the accent as usual causes the loss of a pretonic vowel, as is indicated by the suspended letter in Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh"; requires a short vowel in a closed unaccented syllable, as in Mahalal'el, "praise of God"; allows contraction, as in Beth-el, "house of God"; and occasions the return of a segholate noun to its primitive form, as in Abdiel, "servant of God," where the vowel i is an archaism which has lingered in compound names, but has generally disappeared elsewhere in speech.
(3) Names which consist of a sentence are also accented as one word, and the pronunciation is modified accordingly. The synonyms Eliam and Ammiel, "God is a kinsman," not only exhibit the common archaism in the retention of the vowel i, but the name Eliam also shows the characteristic lengthening of the vowel in the final accented syllable, so common in nouns. The four forms Eliphelet, Eliphalet, Elpelet and Elpalet, meaning "God is deliverance," represent the variations of the Hebrew due to the causes already mentioned (1 Chronicles 3:8; 1 Chronicles 14:5, 7; see the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)). The requirements regarding the ellsion and the quantity and quality of vowels, on the shifting of the accent, are also regularly met by the various types of sentence-names in which the predicate is a verb Thus, the personal names 'elishama` and 'elnathan (subject followed by verb in the perfect); 'elyaqim, 'elyahba', and yehoyakhin (subject and imperfect); gedhalyah, yekholyahu, barakh'el, in which the first vowel is protected by the implied reduplication of the Piel species, benayah, `asah'el, and `asah-'el, `asi'el, chazah'el and chaza'-el and pedhah'el (perfect and subject); yigdalyahu, yibhneyah, ya`asi'el, yachdi'el, yehallel'el, yesimi'el (imperfect and subject); yerubba`al and yashobh`am (jussive and subject; u in sharpened, and o in closed, syllable; in Jashobeam the first long vowel is retained by a secondary accent, marked by metheg); nathan and yiphtach, i.e. Jephthah. Ibneiah shows the customary apocopation of the imperfect of Lamedh-he verbs; and the names Benaiah to Pedahel show the methods of combining the perfect of such verbs with a following element. The short vowel of the final closed syllable of the imperfect is elided, if the final consonant is permitted to begin the syllable of the next element of the name, as in Jezreel, Jekabzeel, Jerahmeel, Ezekiel, Jehizkiah (see the Hebrew form of these names); but it is not elided in Ishmael, although the consonant is attached to the following syllable; and elision is avoided, as in Jiphthah-el, by keeping the ultimate and penultimate syllables distinct. Jehucal, a Hophal imperfect, is peculiar in not lengthening the vowel in the accented final syllable, when the verb is used as a personal name.
3. Transposition of Parts:
When the name was a sentence in Hebrew, its constituent parts could be transposed without changing the meaning. Thus the father of Bathsheba was called Ammiel, "a kinsman is God," and Eliam, "God is a kinsman" (2 Samuel 11:3 1 Chronicles 3:5); and similarly, in letters written from Palestine to the king of Egypt in the 14th century B.C., Ilimilki is also called Milkili, the name in either form signifying "God is king." Ahaziah, king of Judah, is called Jehoahaz (compare 2 Chronicles 21:17 with 22:1), a legitimate transposition of the verb and subject, and meaning in each case, "Yahweh hath laid hold."
Not only did transposition take place, but the substitution of a cognate root and even the use of a different part of the verb also occurred. Thus King Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6 Jeremiah 52:31) was known also as Jeconiah (Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 28:4) and Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24, 28; Jeremiah 37:1). The two names Jehoiachin and Jeconiah have exactly the same meaning, "Yahweh doth establish"; and Coniah is a synonym, "the establishing of Yahweh." The Divine name which begins Jehoiachin is transferred to the end in Jeconiah and Coniah; and the Hiphil imperfect of the verb kun, which is seen in Jehoiachin, has been replaced by the Qal imperfect of the verb kanan in Jeconiah, and by the construct infinitive of the same species in Coniah. Parallel cases occur in Assyrian and Babylonian literature, among which the two forms of the king's name, Zamama-shum-iddina and Zamama-nadin-shum, exhibit both the transposition of constituent parts and an interchange of preterite and participle.
4. Methods of Abbreviation:
Twin forms like Abiner and Abner, Abishalom and Absalom, Elizaphan and Elzaphan, are not the full name and its abbreviation by syncopation, but are merely two variant, equally legitimate, modes of combining the constituent parts. The common methods of shortening were:
(1) contraction by the rejection of a weak consonant or the apocopation of a final unaccented vowel, notably illustrated by the divine name yeho- at the beginning and -yahu at the end of proper names: hence, Jehoash became Joash (2 Kings 12:1, 19), and Amaziahu became Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1, 8 Hebrew text, and 8);
(2) abbreviation of composite geographical names by the omission of the generic noun or its equivalent: Jerusalem, which to the Hebrews meant "foundation of peace," was shortened to Salem, "peace" (Psalm 76:2); Kiriath-baal, "city of Baal" (Joshua 15:60), to Baal or Baalah (Joshua 15:9, 10; compare 2 Samuel 6:2); Beeshterah, "house or temple of Astarte," to Ashtaroth; Beth-lebaoth, "house of lionesses," to Lebaoth; Beth-azmaveth to Azmaveth; Beth-rehob to Rehob; Beth-bamoth to Bamoth (M S, l. 27, with Numbers 21:19); Beth-baal-meon to Baal-meon (Numbers 32:38 Joshua 13:17); the same custom existed among the Moabites who spoke of this town indifferently as Beth-baal-meon and Baal-meon (M S, ll.9, 30);
(3) abbreviation by the omission of the divine name: thus the name of the idolater Micaiah, which means, "who is like Yahweh?" (Judges 17:1, 4 (Hebrew)), was shortened to Micah, "who is like?" (Judges 17:5, 8); and similarly in the case of three other men, namely the prophet (Micaiah, Jeremiah 26:18 the English Revised Version, and Micah, Micah 1:1), the Levite musician (Nehemiah 12:35 with Nehemiah 11:17, 22), and the father of Abdon (2 Kings 22:12 with 2 Chronicles 34:20).
The king of Judah, Yauhazi, as he was known to the Assyrians, i.e. Jehoahaz, "Yahweh hath laid hold," is called simply Ahaz, "he hath laid hold," in the Hebrew records. The town of Jabneel, "God doth cause to be built," was shortened to Jabneh, "he doth cause to be built" (Joshua 15:11 2 Chronicles 26:6; compare 1Ma 4:15); Paltiel, "deliverance of God," was curtailed to Palti, "deliverance" (1 Samuel 25:44 2 Samuel 3:15); Abijah, "Yahweh is father," to Abi (2 Chronicles 29:1 with 2 Kings 18:2); and Bamoth-baal, "high places of Baal," to Bamoth (Joshua 13:17 with Numbers 21:19). Abdi, Othni, Uzzi, and not a few other similar names, probably represent curtailment of this sort. The omission of the Divine title has parallels in Assyrian and Babylonian literature: thus Nabu-nadin-ziri and Nabu-shum-ukin were called Nadinu and Shum-ukin respectively (Dynastic Tablet number 2, col. iv, 4, 5, with Babylonian Chron., col. i, 13, 16).
(4) Abbreviation by the elision of the initial consonant, yet so that the remainder is a synonymous name of complete grammatical form. The name of King Hezekiah was written by the Hebrews both yechizchiyah, "Yahweh doth strengthen," and chizchiyah, "Yahweh is strength." The two forms interchange many times in 2 Chronicles 29, 30, 31, 32, 33. Similarly, Jeconiah was shortened to Coniah, as has already been noticed; the name of the town Jekabzeel, "God bringeth together," to Kabzeel, "God's bringing together" (Nehemiah 11:25 with Joshua 15:21 2 Samuel 23:20); Meshelemiah, "Yahweh is recompensing," to Shelemiah, "Yahweh's recompensing" (1 Chronicles 26:1, 2 with 1 Chronicles 26:14); Meshullam, "recompensed," to Shallum, "recompensed" (1 Chronicles 9:11 Nehemiah 11:11 with 1 Chronicles 6:12 Ezra 7:2).
II. The Range of Proper Names.
1. Personal Names:
(1) Not Exclusively Descriptive.
Simonis in his Onomasticum, published in 1741, and Gesenius in his Thesaurus, issued during the years from 1835 to 1853, endeavored to interpret the proper names as though they were ordinarily intended to characterize the person who bore them. Embarrassed by theory, Gesenius translated Malchiel by "rex Dei, h. e. a Deo constitutus"; and Simonis translated Malchi-shua by "regis auxilium, i.e. auxilium s. salus regi patri praestita"; Ammizabad was rendered by Gesenius "famulus largitoris, h.e. Jehovae," and by Simonis "populum (i.e. copiosissimam liberorum turbam) donavit"; Gesenius translated Gedaliah "quem Jehova educavit vel roboravit," Zerahiah "cui Jehova ortum dedit," Jehozadak "quem Jehova justum fecit," and Joel "cui Jehova est deus, i.e. cultor Jehovae"; but Simonis rendered Joel by "Jehoua (eat) Deus.... vel (cui) Jehoua Deus (eat)." Now Malchiel means "God is king," Malchi-shua "the king, i.e. God, is salvation" (compare Joshua), Ammizabad "the Kinsman hath endowed," Gedaliah "Yah is great," Zerahiah "Yahweh hath risen in splendor," Jehozadak "Yahweh is righteous," and Joel, if a compound name, "Yah is God." A moment's reflection makes clear that these names do not describe the persons who bear them, but in every case speak of God. They emphasize the important facts that personal names might be, and often were, memorial and doctrinal, and that personal names were a part of the ordinary speech of the people, full of meaning and intelligible to all, subject to the phonetic laws of the Hebrews, and obedient to the rules of grammar.
(2) Drawn from a Wide Field.
Parents named their children, and contemporaries dubbed people, from physical and spiritual traits, whether a beauty or a blemish; thus Hophni, "pertaining to the fist," Japhia, "gleaming," Ikkesh, "perverse," Ira, "watchful," Gareb, "rough-skinned," and Hiddai, "joyful." Children were called by the names of natural objects, as Peninnah, "coral," Rimmon, "pomegranate," Tamar, "palm tree," Nahash, "serpent," Eglah, "heifer," Aiah, "bird of prey," and Laish, "lion"; or after kinsfolk or remoter members of the clan, as Absalom's daughter Tamar bore the name of her father's beautiful sister, and as the priest Phinehas took his strange name from the noted Phinehas, who belonged to the same father's house in earlier days. Or the name given to the child furnished a memorial of events in the national history, like Ichabod, "the glory is not" (1 Samuel 4:21), and probably Obed-edom, "Edom is serving" (compare 1 Samuel 14:47; 1 Samuel 21:7); or it told of circumstances attending the child's birth, as Saul, "asked," and Elishama, "God hath heard"; or it embodied an article of the parent's creed, as Joab and Abijah, "Yah is a father," Joel, "Yah is God"; or it expressed a hope concerning the child or bore witness to a prophecy, as Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh," and Solomon, "peaceable" (2 Samuel 12:25 1 Chronicles 22:9). Sometimes the name of the tribe or race to which a man belonged became his popular designation, as Cushi, "Cushite." All of these examples have been cited from the records of one period of Israel's history, the times of Samuel and David.
(3) Influences Leading to Choice.
The people in general gathered names for their children freely from all parts of this wide field, but in certain circles influences were at work which tended to restrict the choice to a smaller area. These influences were religious:
(a) In homes of piety conscious nearness to God on the part of the parents naturally prompted them to bestow religious names upon their children. The name may be without distinct religious mark in its form and meaning, as Ephraim, "double fruitfulness," Manasseh, "making to forget," and yet have been given in acknowledgment of God's grace and be a constant reminder of His goodness (Genesis 41:51, 52); or the name may be religious in form, as Shemaiah, "Yah hath heard," and publicly testify to the parents' gratitude to God.
(b) The covenant relation, which Yahweh entered into with Israel, made the name Yahweh, and that aspect of God's character which is denoted by this name, peculiarly precious to the people of God, and thenceforth the word Yahweh became a favorite element in the personal names of the Israelites, though not, of course, to the exclusion of the great name El, "God."
(c) Among the kings in the line of David, the consciousness of their formal adoption by Yahweh to be His vicegerents on the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 7 Psalm 2) found expression in the royal names. Yahweh, the God of Israel, was acknowledged in the personal name Abijah, borne by the son and successor of Rehoboam. But his was an isolated case, unless the name Asa is an abbreviated form. But with Jehoshaphat, Abijah's grandson, early in the 9th century, the custom became established. Henceforth it was conventional for the king of Judah to have for his name a sentence with Yahweh as its subject. The only exceptions among the 16 successors of Asa on the throne were Manasseh and his son Amon, both of whom were notoriously apostate from Yahweh. The full name of Ahaz was Jehoahaz. Josiah's son Shallum as king was known as Jehoahaz; and his brother Eliakim, when placed on the throne by Pharaoh-necoh, was given the name Jehoiakim.
(d) Akin to the influence exerted by the relation of the kings to the God of Israel, and manifesting almost equal power contemporaneously with it, was the influence of official connection with the sanctuary, either as priests or as subordinate ministers, and it frequently led to the choice of an ecclesiastical name containing the word God or Yahweh. During the five centuries and a half, beginning near the close of Solomon's reign and extending to the end of Nehemiah's administration, 22 high priests held office, so far as their names have been preserved in the records. Of these pontiffs 17 bear names which are sentences with Yahweh as subject, and another is a sentence with El as subject. The materials for investigation along this line are not complete, as they are in the case of the kings, and ratios derived from them are apt to be erroneous; but evidently the priests of Yahweh's temple at Jerusalem not only recognized the appropriateness for themselves and their families of names possessing a general religious character, but came to favor such as expressly mentioned God, especially those which mentioned God by His name of Yahweh.
(4) Popularity of Names: Hard to Determine.
Until abundant data come to light for all periods of the history, it is precarious to attempt to determine the relative popularity of the various kinds and types of names in any one generation, or to compare period with period with respect to the use or neglect of a particular class of names. For, first, in no period are the names which have been transmitted by the Hebrew records many as compared with the thousands in use at the time; and, secondly, the records deal with the historical event which was conspicuous at the moment, and rarely mention persons other than the actors in this event.
At one time men and women from the middle class of society are asserting themselves in the national life, and the personal names current in the families of farmers, shopkeepers and soldiers obtain place in the annals; at another time, when the activities of the court are of paramount importance, it is mainly names that were current in official circles which are chronicled; at yet another period, when matters of the national worship engaged the attention of the state, ecclesiastics and laymen from pious families, whose names were quite likely to have a religious meaning, receive mention. Very few names outside of the particular circle concerned are preserved in the records. It is unwarranted, therefore, to draw inferences regarding the relative use of particular names, secular names, for instance, at different periods of the history of Israel, by comparing the number of these names found in a record of political uprisings in the army with the number of similar names in the narrative of an episode which occurred at a later date and in which only priests took part. It is comparing things that differ. It is comparing the number of certain names current in military circles with the number of the same names among ecclesiastics, in order to learn whether these names were more common among the people as a whole in the one period than in the other.
2. Geographical Names:
The brine of its waters led the ancient Hebrews to call the Dead Sea the Salt Sea. Bethesda, "house of mercy," received its name from the belief in the healing virtue of its waters; Lebanon, "white," from the snows that cover its crest; Sidon on the Mediterranean Sea and Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, from their fisheries; Tyre, from the great rock in the sea on which it was built; the valley of Elah, from the terebinth tree; Luz, from the almond tree; Shittim, from the acacia groves on the eastern terrace of the Jordan valley; and Jericho, from the fragrance of its palms and balsams. The "crags of the wild goats" and En-gedi, "kid spring" (1 Samuel 24:1, 2), were in a desolate, rocky region where the wild goats had their home; Aijalon signifies "place of harts," and Etam denotes a "place of beasts and birds of prey." The hopes of a people and pride in their town were expressed in names like Joppa, "beauty," Tirzah, "pleasantness," Janoah, "rest," Shiloh, "tranquillity," and Salem, "peace." The resemblance of the Sea of Galilee in shape to a harp secured for it its ancient name of Chinnereth. Poetic imagination saw in majestic Mt. Hermon likeness to a soldier's breastplate, and forthwith the mountain was called Serion and Senir. The sanctuary of a deity might give name to a town, hence, Beth-dagon, Beth-anath, and Ashtaroth. Sometimes the name of a place commemorated a victory, as rock Oreb, rock Zeeb, and Eben-ezer (Judges 7:25 1 Samuel 7:12); or enshrined a religious transaction or experience, Beth-el and Beracah (Genesis 28:17-19 2 Chronicles 20:26); or told of a migration, as when colonists gave the name of their native town to their new settlement (Judges 1:23-26). Often the name of the founder or other famous inhabitant became attached to a town, and that for various reasons. It was often necessary to distinguish places of the same name from each other by this method; thus certain of the towns called Gibeah became Gibeath-saul and Gibeath-phinehas. The Jebusite stronghold captured by David was named by him the city of David, and was known by this name, as a quarter of Jerusalem, for many generations (2 Samuel 5:9 2 Kings 16:20). The practice was common among the Semitic contemporaries of Israel, as is illustrated by Dur-sharruken, "Sargonsburg," and Kar-shalmanasharidu, "Shalmaneser's fortress." A town might also be named after the tribe which inhabited it or after the ancestor of the tribe, as Dan (Judges 18:29), and possibly under not a few geographical designations a tribal name is hidden, even when the fact has escaped record and is not revealed by the form of the name. In an inquiry after the origin of a geographical designation the first consideration is due to the causes known to be ordinarily at work in giving rise to names of the same aspect as the one under scrutiny; and only when they fail to yield a suitable explanation are less obvious causes worthy of serious attention.
III. Characteristics of Biblical References.
1. Derivation of Names Manifest:
As a rule, Semitic words clearly reveal their origin and structure. The Semite might, indeed, err with respect to the particular meaning intended, where a word was current in several significations. Thus, the vale of bakha', mentioned in Psalm 84:7 (Eng. 6), is open to two interpretations: namely, "valley of Baca," so called from the balsam trees in it, and "valley of weeping," as the versions render the unusual form, regarding it as equivalent to a similar word meaning "weeping." The plural bekha'im, "mulberry or balsam trees" (2 Samuel 5:23, 14), was understood by Josephus to denote a grove known by the name Weepers (Ant., VII, iv, 1; compare Septuagint). In those rare cases where several derivations were possible, the Israelite may not always have known which thought was intended to be embodied in the name which he heard. But he discerned the alternative possibilities; and a parent, in bestowing a name ambiguous in its derivation, might be deliberately taking advantage of its power to be the vehicle for the suggestion and expression of two thoughts (Genesis 30:23, 24; Joseph being derivable from both yacaph and 'acaph).
2. The Narrator's Only Concern:
That the object of the Biblical writer was not to make known the derivation of the proper names is clear from cases like Esek, Rehoboth and Ishmael (Genesis 16:11; Genesis 26:20, 22): Isaac called the name of the well, Contention, because the herdsmen of Gerar "contended" with him; another well he called Broad Places (roomy places), because Yahweh had "made room" for him; and Hagar was directed to name the son that she was about to bear "God doth hear," because Yahweh had "heard" her affliction. The narrator's purpose was not to declare that the Hebrew word for contention, 'eceq, is derived from the Hebrew verb for "contend," 'acaq, and that the name "God doth hear," yishma`'el, signifies God doth hear, yishma` 'el. These derivations and meanings were plain. The purpose was to state the circumstances which led to the choice of the name. There are instances also where no part of the name reappears in the words that state the reason for the use of the name. For example, the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz is not explained by citing the words which compose it. One noun of the composite name appears, indeed, in the exposition of the meaning, but accidentally as it were, and without prominence or significance of position (Isaiah 8:3, 4). Samuel is a notable example of this method. Hannah called his name Samuel, saying, `Because of Yahweh, I asked him' (1 Samuel 1:20). Simonis, Ewald and Nestle derive the name from shemua`'el, "heard of God." This etymology would fully satisfy the reason given for the mother's choice of the name; but the suggested derivation is far-fetched, for it is not customary for a Hebrew word to lose the strong guttural `ayin (`). The guttural was not lost, but was distinctly heard, in Ishmael, where there is the same concurrence of sounds as in shemua`'el. Qimchi, on the other hand, suggested that Samuel is a contraction of sha'ul me'el, "asked of God"; and Ewald asserts that this origin is theory of the narrator (Lehrbuch der hebraischen Sprache, 275, note 3). This is incredible. Such a contraction is "alien to the genius of the Hebrew language'' (Driver, Text of Samuel, 13), and the absence of the two Hebrew consonants 'aleph (') and lamedh (l) before the letter "m" in the midst of the name Samuel would of itself prevent the Semite from imagining such an etymology. The derivation and meaning of Samuel were not obscure. The type was common, and was especially familiar by reason of the name Peniel, "face of God" (Genesis 32:30 f). Samuel means "name of God" (Gesenius). As Jacob, upon his return from Paddan-aram, in fulfillment of his vow erected an altar at Beth-el as a memorial of God's bestowal of the promised blessings and named the place thus consecrated "The God of Beth-el" (Genesis 35:1, 3, 7), so Hannah having by vow dedicated to Yahweh the son for whose birth she was praying, now that her prayer has been answered and the son given, calls him "The name of God" in commemoration of the Giver. The Biblical narrator states the motive which led the mother to choose the name Samuel for her child. In this explanation no part of the name is used. Moreover, the slight assonance between shemu'el and she'iltiw in 1 Samuel 1:20 was unsought, for these words are separated in the Hebrew text, and the emphasis is placed on the gift's being "from Yahweh." The history of the discussion concerning this name shows how far astray criticism has been led by the false theory that the purpose of the narrator was to analyze the name and declare its derivation.
Reuben affords evidence to the same effect. The name was known to the early Hebrews in this form exclusively.
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NAMES OF GOD
See GOD, NAMES OF.
See NAMES, PROPER.