Do you want to name your baby from the Bible but are put off by the popularity of Jacob or Abigail? Are you looking for a great name that no one else is using? Consider these 22 obscure yet usable choices. I eliminated a few favorites, such as the jubilant Jubal, in favor of names more likely to be new to many Berries.
Some things I learned: brothers Huz & Buz and Muppim & Huppim (not kidding!) testify that matchy sibsets are nothing new. Many Hebrew names, especially ones ending in -iah (signifying Jehovah), were unisex. It’s difficult to ascertain the meaning of many names, partly due to homophony (see the recent post.)
I hope you enjoy the list as much as I enjoyed compiling it!
Ashbel – this name, which comes with cool nickname Ash, belonged to a son of Benjamin. Ashbel Smith was an American medical student befriended by James Fenimore Cooper when they were in Paris in the 1830’s.
Jezreel – “God sows.” This place name was also the symbolic name given by God to the prophet Hosea’s first son. Its cool Z and its similarity to the more familiar Israel could make Jezreel a good modern choice.
Shaphan – Like Ornan, this rare name fits current trends; its vowel sounds match Nathan’s. Shaphan was most notably the name of the scribe who brought the lost book of the Law to Israel’s King Josiah.
Thelasar – this Old Testament place name, also spelled Telassar, caught my eye because of its similarity to Elessar, one of Aragorn’s names. It’s also similar to possibly-rising star Balthazar.
Zaccai – The name of a man whose descendants returned to Jerusalem and probably the root of Zacchaeus, Zaccai sports hip initial Z and could be nicknamed either the mainstream Zac or the newly-cool Cai.
Zimri – this vibrant name had a couple of bad-boy bearers (read about them in Numbers 25 and 1 Kings 16 before using it!) Ethan Allen had brothers named Zimri and Heber; in 1 Chronicles 2:6, Ethan, Zimri and Heber are listed as brothers.
Athaliah – (ath-ah-LYE-ah or ath-AHL-ee-ah) “Jehovah is exalted.” Focusing on this name’s musical sound and great meaning and ignoring its nasty bearer (2 Kings 11) could make it a lovely modern choice.Casiphia – “Bright, silvery, shining.” This undiscovered Old Testament place name, which comes with nicknames Cassie and Fia, would be a gorgeous choice. The full name shares sounds with popular Sophia.
Shiphra – “Beauty.” Shiphra(h) was one of the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1:15 who defied the Pharaoh’s command by refusing to kill the Hebrew boy babies they delivered.
Timna –This unisex name seems better suited to a girl these days. It could be a feminine way to honor a Timothy.
Tiria – “Foundation.” It’s used only once, in 1 Chronicles 4:16—for a man. In my 21st-century American ears, it’s too pretty for a boy.
Zillah – Zillah was a wife of Lamech in Genesis 4:19, and the name was in the U.S. Top 1000 in the 1800’s. An important name in Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Swiftly Tilting Planet, where it evolves through forms Zyll and Zylle, it deserves to be revived.