By Linda Rosenkrantz
The Jewish High Holiday season is a perfect time to look for some Old Testament boys’ names that would work perfectly well on a modern boy. The Bible is filled with challenging appellations from Ahitub to Zephaniah, but there are also other more contemporary sounding names that have been rarely ussed. Very few of those listed below have ever appeared on the Social Security list, and the ones that have just made brief cameos in the distant past–though you will see a few that have already been discovered by our berries.
Here are 15 viable possibilities.
Adlai—This appealing name with political/historic ties to distinguished members of the Stevenson family edged onto the popularity list a few times in the 1890’s. You can pronounce it either ad-lay or ad-lie.
Boaz –One Biblical boy that has scored on NB, reaching #203, and it’s also 36 in the Netherlands. The second husband of Ruth in the OT, it’s associated with the holiday of Shavuot. That final Z gives it some contemporary zip, and it’s s great pathway to the cool nickname Bo.
Esau—The son of Isaac and Rebecca and twin of Jacob also edged onto the list at the turn of the last century, but has been MIA ever since. But he could certainly fit in with all those other popular E-boys, like Ezra, Ethan, Elijah, Elliot and Everett.
Jabez—This neglected name has a ridiculous number of assets in addition to its noble Biblical heritage (“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers”) going for it, most prominently its charming Southern accent and jazzy feel. Well used by the Pilgrims, it hasn’t been in the Top 1000 since 1880. Now’s your chance to bring it back!
Jethro—He was the wise and compassionate father of Moses’s wife Zipporah and has the excellent meaning of ‘excellence’. Unfortunately, midcentury pop culture saddled it with a kind of hayseed image, but it’s time now to be appreciated for its lively o-ending sound .
Kenan—pronounced KEE-nan, this is one of the most current sounding names on the list, perhaps through its connection to SNL’s Kenan Thompson. The biblical Kenan was a great-grandson of Adam and nephew of Abraham; he died at the age of 910.
Laban—With the pure meaning of “white,” well-connected Laban was the brother of Rebecca, father of Rachel and Leah, and grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thomas Hardy used Laban for a character in Far from the Madding Crowd. A variation is Lavan.
Oren—Biblical and botanical, Oren means ‘pine tree’. One of those responsible for establishing the tribe of Judah, Oren is already #299 on Nameberry and, trivia tidbit, was the name of Johnny Depp’s grandfather,
Tobiah– Way less known than Tobias, the Greek form of the name, Tobiah has a stronger biblical feel. Tobiah appears in the book of Nehemiah as the name of a rebel Hebrew king. Could definitely enjoy playdates with Elijah and Isaiah.
Uri—Short and strong, Uri is commonly heard in Israel and was the name of two Old Testament figures, and is a symbolic name for boys born on Hanukkah. Its usability is reflected by its rank at Number 459 on Nameberry. Winona Ryder has a brother named Uri..