Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

THE NAME GAME (Genesis 29-30)

Finally the Patriarchs had children. Children in abundance. Twelve sons and at least one daughter, enough, in fact,  to found the 12 Tribes of Israel. 

But who named them?

The question is not an idle one. God changed Abram's name to Abraham. He told Abraham to name his son Isaac, and He changed Jacob's name to Israel. 

With Jacob, the training period of the Patriarchs came to an end.  One of the first responsibilities He left to them was choosing names for their children. Jacob, in turn, let his wives choose. And oh, what names they came up with: names full of joy and hope, rivalry and tension, man and God. Consider:

  • Judah - Praise God
  • Levi - Connect with my husband
  • Asher - Happy
  • Dan - Vindication
Including the poignant names of Rachel's two sons, Joseph, "May God add another son to me," and Ben-oni, "son of my pain," on her deathbed. (Jacob changed Ben-oni to Benjamin, son of my good fortune.)

My son and daughter-in-law waited until after my grandson was born to choose his name: Isaiah Jaran Franklin. My son said "Our prayer is that he will grow up to cry out (Jaran) 'The Lord is salvation' (Isaiah) so that all may be free men (Franklin)." I love it!

Jordan's (granddaughter's name) is equally thoughtful. Born nine months after my daughter Jolene's death, she was given Jolene's initials and her middle name: Jordan Elizabeth Franklin. Her birth was a life-affirming gift from God in the midst of grief, and her name reflects that.

Like Abram and Jacob, God has chosen a new name for all of His children (Revelation 2:17). 

What name did your parents choose for you? What name(s) did you choose for your children? How does the name reflect on you, your personality, the circumstances of your birth? What name would you choose for yourself? 


  1. Great post, Darlene. I love thinking about the meanings of names. If I'd known about that Ben-oni name, I might've named my first one that. But that's a different story. :)

    I don't think my parents chose my name (Robin Kimberly) because of its meaning, but because they liked how it sounded. Robin means "bright fame" and Kimberly means "clearer of the forest." It's almost an oxymoron.

    That was my first requirement, too, that I liked the way my kids' names sounded. However, I did take the meanings into account. My eldest is Nicholas, "Victory of the people." My daughter is Alexandra, which comes from Alexander, which means "Defender of man." (Some places say it means "Ruler," and she definitely has that spirit sometimes) :) And my third child we named Jacob, which actually means "holder of the heel" or "supplanter." Not a great meaning, but I thought of Jacob more as the chosen and blessed one, as Jacob was chosen and blessed over his brother.

  2. Yes, sometimes the meaning of a name comes from its association with an historical person. Such as with Jordan Elizabeth, although both names also have biblical associations.