Old Testament Baby Names: On choosing Job
Our son’s name is Job. No, not “job,” as in a vocation. It is pronounced with a long “o,” and rhymes with robe. As in, the book of Job in the Bible, the story about a man who is visited with overwhelming trials. Yeah—that Job.
We started receiving pushback almost immediately. It started with friends and family. We both come from Christian homes, so the name Job is familiar to many in our circle. We were somewhat entertained by the emotional reactions; it was suggested that if we were to name our baby after someone who experienced so many trials, well, perhaps we were setting our kid up for hard times. And besides, the official meaning of Job is “persecuted” or “afflicted.” Surely we wouldn’t want to give our son a name with such a meaning!
The wariness toward Job didn’t stop there.
As I am an admitted name-troll during pregnancy, I was constantly online in my spare time, researching names and reading/commenting on others’ choices. On several naming sites, I would post that we were considering Job and why we were toying with the idea of using it. I certainly received the full spectrum of commentary!
Many of the comments were of the “it’s not my taste, but to each his own” variety, but some commenters were more serious in their cautions against Job. They feared that giving our son a name associated with negativity would condemn him for life. It was almost as if the name Job was in the category of Judas, Hitler, or Stalin.
Then, there was the group of helpful commenters who wanted to make sure we knew that people would call him job (as in a vocation)— the Biblical name Job was just not well-known, they’d insist. Some suggested we change the spelling to Jobe, so that people might have a better shot at pronouncing it correctly on the first try. We weren’t too concerned; our daughter’s name is Amaré (pronounced Am-uh-RAY), so getting only one mispronunciation would be an improvement!
Job also drew a colorful group of commenters from the UK who would try to politely let me know that our choice of nickname, Joby, was the colloquial word for “#2” in parts of the UK. I did pause at that particular caution, but quickly decided that since John, Randy, and Dick were well-used names over the years, one more name-with-a-potential-potty-mouth-meaning should not be a true deterrent.
It was the in-person reactions, though, that left me both amused and despairing at the same time. At first, I would tentatively mention our name ideas just to see a person’s face. Most of the time, Job was not on anyone’s radar. Not being Mason, Aiden, or Jacob, it would often take a moment for the person to process that a name like Job would even be considered. Seriously. By parents who seemingly loved their soon-to-be-born son. Eyebrows would raise, surprise would register on faces (followed by an attempt, unsuccessfully, to mask the reaction), and responses would be stuttered: “Oh, that’s…uh, that’s…well now, that’s a name you don’t hear every day.”
But to be honest, perhaps the only reaction that genuinely hurt was silence. It made me think of the old saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The silence really got to me.
I admit that all of this early feedback tempted me toward the Mommy-blues. I began to second-guess the name we had settled upon, Job Marcellus. We loved our chosen middle name (Marcellus is a derivation of my husband’s deceased father’s name, Marcel). Everyone liked Marcellus. But, Job was our favorite. And, other than the two of us and our closest family members, we seemed to be alone in our admiration.
So, I went back to the drawing board on why we loved the name. The Bible’s story of Job’s faithfulness was what drew us in the first place. Here was a man whose faith never wavered, whether he had endless blessings and wealth or he was in a place of misery and loss (it should be noted, at the end of Job’s story, his possessions were greater than at the beginning). Here was a man whose name it would be an honor to bear—and whose faithfulness in believing God would be an amazing legacy. A boy bearing such a name would always have a great example to live by, in both the good and bad times. My husband and I talked it over at length, and finally decided that Job was, indeed, the name for our son. (For the record, as my husband’s opinion on the name never faltered, this deep conversation actually consisted of his listening as I went back and forth with myself.)
We’ve had our little Joby for four months now, and I really can’t imagine his name being any different. Sure, his name is occasionally pronounced “job”—although people often self-correct before we even say anything, as most are bright enough to realize we probably did not name our child a synonym for vocation. And, yes, we still get an occasional raised eyebrow, implying that if we really knew the story behind the name, we wouldn’t have chosen it. Worst of all—yes, we do sometimes still get that silence. But, I am happy to report that after consideration, many people end up liking the name. And at the end of the day, Job is no stranger than naming a child, say, Noah.
I’m not going to say that I don’t sometimes wish that people would hear his name and exclaim about how cute it is, how much they love it, how they wanted to use that name for their kid, and so on. But, if that were happening all the time, I probably wouldn’t like it as much. We wanted a name that stood out. A name that was strong, but not common. A name with a deep meaning.
Job it is.
Note: That’s Job in the illustration.
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on March 24th, 2014 at 12:45 am
I adore the name Job! I think it’s a fantastic name and Job from the Bible is such a inspiration and a great namesake for any boy.
We had Job short-listed until a dear friend of ours used it for her boy, but it suits him so much, and I love to hear the name being used 🙂
on March 24th, 2014 at 12:54 am
I actually saw this name on here the other day and I really liked it. At first I pronounced it like the occupation, but I grew up in a religious family so I self-corrected the pronunciation. It is a really nice name and if you live in a religious area I think people should be familiar enough with the name for it to be fine. I don’t like the unique spelling of Jobe though. Although he did suffer, we all face challenges in everyday life and I prefer to focus on his devout faith despite circumstances.
on March 24th, 2014 at 1:52 am
Job is a handsome, strong name with a wonderful back story! Good for you for sticking to your guns! Also, your little Joby is adorable! Congratulations!
on March 24th, 2014 at 2:05 am
I think Job Marcellus is quite a lovely name. Love the biblical namesake as well.
on March 24th, 2014 at 6:24 am
I actually quite like the name Job! I wonder if my husband would be on board to use it in the middle spot for a potential second son? But then, I am also campaigning for Jemima (one of Job’s daughters) in middle spot if we ever have a daughter (the book of Job holds special significance to us).
on March 24th, 2014 at 6:31 am
I am so happy you went with Job! It is such a strong, masculine, underused Old Testament gem. Congratulations on a beautiful baby and a beautiful name!
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Old Testament names. I’m still trying to convince my husband that Saul should be at the top of our list. Abraham and Jonah are also tops … Although I was concerned about teasing with Abraham since the word “bra” is in it.
Anyway, I am so happy you went with your gut and your heart. Job will move mountains!
on March 24th, 2014 at 10:09 am
I am a self-corrector. I read the name before I thought about the title or premise of the post and stopped myself almost instantly from saying ‘job’. And then thought that I was happy to hear it and surprised that it isn’t more popular. A meaningful name with a light-hearted nn, much along the lines of Jacoby/Jacob. Congrats on sticking to your guns.
on March 24th, 2014 at 11:31 am
I love the name. I have to ask, were you in Job’s Daughter’s? Also the same question for Poppy. If you mention Job not a lot of people know who he is and the trials he went through. I can recite the entire story from memory. May he have patience and faith =)
on March 24th, 2014 at 1:24 pm
Rebekah, Job is a terrific name and he has a great namesake. I think society places too much value on an easy, rewarding life, but honestly an easy life makes for lazy and faithless people. May your little Job face the trials of life with honor and faithfulness!
on March 24th, 2014 at 3:35 pm
Job is a great name! It makes me sad that people don’t like it and that it isn’t used a little more. I am glad to see parents raising their children in a Godly manor since it seems as if more parents are just teaching their kids the ways of this world. So thank you for that. He is adorable by the way! Congratulations!
on March 24th, 2014 at 4:06 pm
Am I that obvious PHQ9? Yes, I was, as were my sisters, sisters-in-law and my best female friends.
But even if I weren’t, I studied Job at bible study, and he is a pretty great namesake. It is unfortunate that there is a pronunciation issue, but I think there are so many more redeeming qualities to Job that outweigh that.
Micah and Jonah are two other great Old Testament names – though neither are as underused as Job.
on March 24th, 2014 at 10:36 pm
Love the name Job and am glad you stuck with it. I see no problem with the name at all. I have two family members (father and son) named Job. The younger being Job Thomas. To my knowledge they have never had a problem with the pronounciation of the name, but we do live in the Bible Belt. Congratulations on your little one. And a wonder namesake to be proud of.
on March 25th, 2014 at 10:41 am
What a cute little guy! I’m glad you chose a name that has so much significance for you and many others.
on March 25th, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Thank you for all the encouraging comments. It’s been interesting to see a renewed reaction to his name, and fun to have a chance to explain our thought-process behind his naming. PHQ9, I’m afraid I’ve never heard of Job’s Daughters.
on March 25th, 2014 at 6:47 pm
Thanks for choosing this name! It’s my favorite Bible name, and I’m really glad to hear about a modern person with the name. 🙂
on July 31st, 2014 at 1:35 pm
We have 4 boys: Abel, Seth, Levi, Ezra and our 5th is due Nov. 8. We are naming him Job. We love the name and the faithful example of Job in the Bible. I appreciate your post. I had some hesitations about naming him Job because of all the negative feedback we might get, but your post encouraged me to not be afraid to use the name we really love. We’re waiting till he’s born to announce it though. That way people who don’t like it can accept it more easily since it’s already official. =) My close family members know and they love it too.
on September 16th, 2014 at 2:11 pm
My son Job Aaron was born last year. It’s an awesome name that fits him perfectly. My husband has always had that name in mind should he have a son, so we’ve been planning to name our son that for 10+ years. I have had a wide range of reactions, but probably the most common is “Oh. Wow.” Very unimpressed/taken aback. I get variations of “What a heavy name.” Prior to me having the baby, one acquaintance voiced loud and irrational objections to the name based on the fact that I am not a Christian. She told me it was a terrible name, that I didn’t know the story (I have actually read the book) and that the biblical character Job turned his back on God, and that my son would be a sinner.
Naturally we get “job” (short ‘O’) about 50% of the time. When purchasing his birthday cake, the lady checking me out looked at the cake, laughed, and said “Happy Birthday job, what is that supposed to MEAN?” When I told her his name is “Job” and it’s from the bible, she laughed even harder and said “That kid’s gonna have a tough time.” Um. Okay. Luckily, I am not one to be phased by this. Just giving you my personal experiences with the name.
Sorry for such an unpleasant post! I do love the name so much. You gave your son a perfect gift to start his life: a strong, simple, unique name that is rich in history and significance.
on January 7th, 2015 at 5:15 pm
Thank you for this awesome post! Our Job Matthew is due in March and we’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows over the name. Mostly from our family! Our older two children are both “J” names (James and Julianne) and I told my husband if this one was a boy, he could pick the name. He wanted to stick with the “J’s” and we had both discussed the name Job when I was pregnant with my daughter 7 years ago. He loves the old biblical “strong” names. Interestingly, we aren’t particularly religious, but I do love the story of Job and his patience and faithfulness. Having two older children that are anything other than patient and obedient, I am hoping Job will live up to his name. 🙂 I fully anticipate he’ll be called “job” (vocation) throughout his life- and hope he will not hate us for it… but I think he will appreciate having a unique, but not unheard of name. And we will also likely call him “Joby” as a nickname.
I ran across your post when doing an online search to see if anyone else had named their child “Job”. I don’t know of any personally, so I was pleased to read your post. 🙂
on August 28th, 2015 at 8:44 pm
@trudibeth77, just read through some of these comments. I hadn’t read the later ones in a year, at least! Glad you enjoyed the post and that it encouraged you! Hope all went well with little Job’s birth, and that you are enjoying your Joby. We certainly love ours! And I don’t know about you, but the only place I have even a fraction of an issue with pronunciation seems to be at the pediatrician’s office, pharmacy, and any hospital interaction. But usually one correction makes it all right–and people do bounce back and seem to remember quite well. 🙂 Otherwise, Joby is an easy name to recall, and toddlers, particularly, seem to LOVE saying it. ha ha!
@Bonnylynette–I have “met” you on FB now, through our mutual friend, and love seeing how your Jobe is growing. 🙂
@enidoreilly, So good to hear that you love the name and are finally getting to use it. 🙂 I bet you’ll continue to love it as the years go by. We are approaching his 2nd birthday, and no regrets at all! I’m pretty confident he’ll love it, too. And as a fallback, Joby is no “stranger” than Koby, Toby, or Moby. 😉
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