Category: Old Testament boys’ names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The surprise top name for boys in 2013 was the Old Testament Noah, followed by the not so surprisingly high-on-the-list Jacob, Ethan, Daniel, Benjamin, David, Joseph, Joshua and Samuel—in other words many of the same biblical boys’ names that have been recycled for eons.
I thought that today, in commemoration of the Jewish High Holy Days, we would shake things up a bit and look at some Bible names that aren’t even in the Top 1000, but might be worthy of some consideration
Are there really any good unusual boys’ names left in the Bible? Old Testament names for boys have been fashionable for going on half a century now, from the 1960s Adam to the present day Asher. Could there possibly be any obscure-yet-usable choices left?
Hundreds of them, in fact. The Bible is so full of unusual boys’ names that the choices seem nearly infinite, and as a new generation moves from hoary to hottie, others that once seemed to strange to consider start to feel possible.
Here, a dozen unusual Biblical names for boys you might want to consider.
In the most recent list of Most Popular Boys ‘ Names, all five of the top five names came from the Good Book, accounting for well over 100,000 of the boy babies born in the US. Obviously, many parents–whether for religious reasons or not–continue to be attracted to names with this strong traditional base. But why, we ask, be limited to the same relatively small group of biblical choices, when there are loads of other more unusual options out there? Why not Joab or Joah instead of Noah? Beniah rather than Benjamin? Jemuel in place of Samuel?
Many of these now obscure names were quite commonly used by the Puritan Colonists, especially in New England, until the middle of the 19th century when Old Testament names fell out of favor. Most of the names listed below are hardly heard today, with only one of them–Asa–even appearing in the current Top 1000, but they are all possible alternatives to those standards that are given to thousands of babies each year.
When we finally finished researching and writing our encyclopedic name book, the day came when we had to decide what to call it. (The working title of Big Baby Name Book just wasn’t going to cut it.)
This turned out to be almost as laborious a task as writing the book. Dozens and dozens of lists of possibilities were emailed back and forth. Our book editor and even our agent entered the fray, offering their own suggestions. (We actually chronicled this painful process in an article we wrote for Publishers Weekly magazine, called Naming the Name Book.) We finally settled on The Baby Name Bible because, well, we hoped people would make it their baby naming bible.
It never entered our minds that some people would take it literally as a book of biblical names. But on our earlier, smaller website, before nameberry was born–babynamebible.com– many visitors did come to search solely for Old and New Testament names. And of course they found them, but a lot more besides.
Biblical names have a long history in this country. They came to colonial America with the early Puritans, who scrutinized the Good Book for names of righteous figures, believing that such names could shape the character of their offspring, and often using extreme examples, like Zelophehad and Zerubbabel. Over the centuries and decades since then, there has been a steady stream of biblical names: individual Old Testament examples, in particular, have drifted in and out of fashion, for both boys and girls.