What’s in a name?

Why do we name kids what we do? I suppose some name their children after family members, others just like the sound of the name, and still others might know some film character that they liked.

I’ve noticed lately that some of the old names are making a comeback. Emma is popular. My grandmother was Emma. Isabella, Liam, Sophia, and Elijah are really old names that have somehow returned to the top-ten-baby-name list.

Why is that? My hunch is that it has to do with pop culture, but I can’t say for sure.

All of this got me thinking, (which can be dangerous).

If you want some old names maybe I could help you out. So I built a list of ancient names for you young moms to consider. Sadly, my list is only for the boys, so if you are expecting a little princess then I can’t help.

Don’t feel the need to give me credit if you use them:

  1. Shammua
  2. Shaphat
  3. Igal
  4. Palti
  5. Gaddiel
  6. Gaddi
  7. Ammiel
  8. Sethur
  9. Nahbi
  10. Geuel

No takers? Why not? Would it help if I told you that these are all Biblical names? What if I said that they were at one time ten of the most important people in all of Israel? Still no takers?

WHY DOESN’T ANYONE EVER NAME THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THESE TEN NAMES? I mean, other famous Biblical names have made a strong comeback. Noah, Benjamin, and Gabriel are all A-listers in the name game. Why not poor old Igal?

You say, “It just sounds strange.” Don’t all names sound strange if you never hear them?

You say, “They are too old.” Those names aren’t as old as Benjamin or Gabriel.

So why do we use some Bible names and not others? It all depends on what the person did with the name.

When the nation of Israel approached the Promised Land, Moses sent twelve of his best men to reconnoiter the land and its inhabitants. The twelve spies returned with a mixed report.

They said, “The land is exceedingly prosperous, in fact, it’s flowing with milk and honey.” “BUT… (and this was a really big but) there are giants in the land and they made us feel like grasshoppers.”

Ten of the spies caved to fear and said, “We can’t do this! It’s impossible!”

Guess which ten gave the negative majority report. Yep. Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, and Geuel.

That’s why you never meet anyone with these names. Nobody wants to name his or her kid after a loser.

Two of the twelve saw things differently. Rather than focusing on the problem these two focused on the potential. They said, “Yeah they are big but God is bigger and the land is exactly as advertised. Let’s do it!!!”

These two names are just as old and just as biblical, but to this very day, you still run into guys named Caleb and Joshua.

Imagine if the script were flipped. You Caleb’s out there might have just as easily been Shammua.


Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth…

Whatever name you carry, be sure and carry it well. Who knows, maybe some young mom will want to name her baby after you.

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