Biblical names have been in style for babies since the 1960s, when parents started to revive such Bible names for boys as Samuel and Joshua, Aaron and Adam. Over the decades, biblical names for both boys and girls have become popular. Noah and Jacob have both held the top spot for Bible boy names in recent years.
Along with Noah and Jacob, other biblical baby names among the Top 1000 names in the US include Ethan, Abigail, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Samuel, Elijah, Hannah, and Leah. Bible names that start with A, such as Asher and Abel and Abigail, have been particularly popular in recent years. The Bible is full of historic hidden gems, such as Tirzah, Jethro, Zilla, and Boaz.
Biblical names, like the Bible itself, can be divided into Old Testament names and New Testament names. Old Testament Biblical names of prophets like Abraham and Moses, long thought too antiquated for babies, have been resurrected in recent years. Parents look deeper and deeper into the Bible in search of more unique bible names, with recent stylish Biblical names including Phoebe and Felix, Asher and Ezra, which is increasing in use for girls as well as boys.
New Testament names include many Biblical names long in use by Christians, including Mary and James, Elizabeth and Matthew. International variations of those New Testament names, such as Maria and Seamus, Eliza and Mateo are also popular religious names around the world.
Lately, names from the Bible once considered off-limits because they're associated with sinful or evil figures are being resurrected. These include Delilah, Jezebel, Lilith, and, yes, even Lucifer.
Description:Felix was originally a Roman surname but was adopted as a nickname by the ancient Roman Sulla, who believed that he was especially blessed with luck by the gods. It is the name of four popes and sixty-seven saints; in the Bible, Felix is a Roman procurator of Judea.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Silas is based on the name Silvanus, and the two are used interchangeably in the Bible. In the New Testament, St. Silas was a leading member of the early Christian community who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. Sylvanus was the Roman god of trees and his name was originally bestowed on people who lived in wooded areas or who worked with wood.
Description:Ezra is potentially an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase Azaryahu, meaning “Yah helps.” In the Bible, Ezra led a group of fifteen hundred Israelites out of slavery in Babylon and back to Jerusalem. The Latin name Esdras derives from Ezra.
Origin:Latin diminutive of Judah
Description:Jude is an example of a name whose image was turned on its head primarily by one appealing celebrity. So take a bow, Jude Law: You--in collaboration with the Lennon-McCartney song "Hey Jude"--have erased Jude's old connections to the traitorous Judas Iscariot and Thomas Hardy's tragic Jude the Obscure, and inspired a legion of new babies named Jude.
Meaning:"fortunate, blessed, happy one"
Description:In the Bible, Asher was one of Jacob's twelve sons who gave their names to the tribes of Israel. Asher is derived from the Hebrew word osher, which means "happiness." Rabbinical scholars claim that the Asherites lived up to this meaning, as they had the most oil, wisdom, and male children compared to the other tribes.
Description:Noah was derived from the Hebrew name Noach, which itself came from the root nuach, meaning "rest." In the bible, Noah was deemed the only righteous man of his time, singled out by God to survive the great flood sent to punish the world. Noa is generally a separate feminine Hebrew name, although it's also found as a variant spelling of the male name Noah.
Origin:English variation of Jacob, Hebrew
Description:James is an English derivation of the Hebrew name Jacob. James is biblical (the name of two apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland), presidential (with more U.S. Chief Executives named James (six) than any other name), and it is shared by countless great writers and entertainers.
Meaning:"devotion to God"
Description:Caleb has two potential derivations, the first being from the Hebrew kelev, meaning “dog,” and the second from the Hebrew components kal and lev, together meaning “whole heart.” In the Old Testament Caleb is one of only two ancient Israelites (Joshua was the other) who set out from Egypt to finally enter the promised land.
Description:In the Old Testament, Levi was the third son of Leah and Jacob, from whom the priestly tribe of Levites descended; in the New Testament, Levi was Matthew's given name before he became an apostle. It is suspected that Levi derives from the Hebrew word yillaweh, meaning “he will join.”
Origin:Greek from Hebrew
Meaning:"God is good"
Description:Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Tobiah, which was derived from the name Toviyah. Toviyah was created from the elements tov, meaning "good" and yah, representing the Hebrew God. Tobias is the name of several biblical figures but is primarily associated with the story of Tobias and the Angel.
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:Nathaniel was derived from the Hebrew name Netan’el, meaning “gift of God,” composed of the elements natan, meaning “to give,” and ’el, in reference to God. The name is featured several times in the Old and New Testaments, typically spelled Nathanael. In the New Testament, Nathanael is also known by his other name, Bartholomew.
Description:Ethan derives from the Hebrew name Eitan. There are several Ethans in the Old Testament, the most prominent of whom, Ethan the Ezrahite, is praised for his wisdom. International variations include Etan and Izan.
Meaning:"radiant, shining one"
Description:Phoebe is the Latin variation of the Greek name Phoibe, which derived from phoibos, meaning “bright.” In classical mythology, Phoebe is the by-name of Artemis, goddess of the moon and of hunting. The masculine version of Phoebe is Phoebus.
Description:Very popular in the Iranian community, this name of the founder of the Persian Empire has had a more down-home, corncob pipe-smoking image for most Americans in the past, but this has begun to change.
Meaning:"hewer; or, having a stump for a hand"
Description:Gideon is a no-longer neglected Old Testament name, but still makes an excellent choice for parents looking to move beyond such overused biblicals as Benjamin and Jacob. In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called on by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites, and the name was popular among the Puritans.
Description:Ada is derived from the German name Adelaide, which came from the ancient name Adalheidis. The root, adal, is a Germanic word meaning "noble." Ada can also be considered a variation of the biblical name Adah, pronounced AH-da, one of the first girls’ names mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
Description:Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.
Meaning:"who is like the Lord"
Description:Micah is a biblical name that growing numbers of parents are looking at as a more unusual alternative to Michael, projecting a shinier, more lively image.
Meaning:"young green shoot"
Description:Chloe appeared in Greek mythology as an alternative name for the goddess of agriculture and fertility, Demeter. She was referred to as Chloe in the spring months, due to the name’s relation to sprouts and growth. Chloe is also mentioned in the New Testament as the name of a Greek Christian woman.
Description:Jonah, the name of the Old Testament prophet who was swallowed by the whale, only to emerge unharmed three days later, is increasingly appreciated by parents looking for a biblical name less common than Jacob or Joshua, yet not too obscure. Plus, Jonah comes with a ready-made nursery-decorating motif.