Hebrew and Biblical Names

The Meaning and Significance

Man Holding the Bible

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Biblical names are interesting choices for your children because they are somewhat unusual and they often refer to strong historical figures and role models. If you are planning to name your children using these Biblical names, review its meaning to assure its right for your family.

Hebrew Names for New Children

  • Some, but not all, Hebrew names stem from strong or otherwise exemplary characters in the Bible.
  • Hebrew names are often based on words that represent character attributes, such as "pleasant" or "joyous."
  • They can also be derived from proper nouns like "song," "peace," or "tenderness."
  • Other names mean surprising things like "palm tree" or "ewe."

Hebrew names include not only names of remarkable people from the Bible, but pleasing attributes, like "pleasantness" or "swiftness," as well as names for objects, like "ewe" or "palm-tree." Many of the names have the word for "God" incorporated into them, so one consideration might be how pious you want your new child's name to be.

Biblical Names for Girls

  • Abigail: Abigail was said to be King David's wisest wife, described in 1 Samuel as a woman "of good sense and of beautiful form." Her name is a contraction of two Hebrew words "Avi" (father of) and "Gil" (joyous stirrings).
  • Ada: Sometimes spelled Adah, in the book of Genesis Ada was the wife of Lemech, Noah's father, and her name means "adornment."
  • Batya: Batya (or Bithiah) was the daughter of Pharaoh who rescued the infant Moses from his basket in the Nile, and her name means "daughter of God."
  • Chava: Chava is the Hebrew version of the name "Eve," the first woman and the mother of the human race (Genesis 3:20). All of the versions of her name mean "the mother of all life."
  • Deborah: Deborah's name means "bee" in Hebrew, and there are two women named Deborah in the Bible. One was an older first cousin to Rebecca, who acted as Rebecca's wet nurse (Genesis 35:8). The more famous Deborah was a judge and prophetess of God, a wise and God-fearing woman who people flocked to for advice and assistance (Judges 4:4).
  • Eliana: Eliana means "God has answered."
  • Esther: Esther (Asheirah or Hadassah in Hebrew) was the heroine of the Purim story, told in the book of Esther, who was selected to marry the Persian king Ahasuerus as he ascended the throne. She bargained with her own life to save her nation from Ahasuerus's decree to kill all the Jews.
  • Hannah: Hannah (Gracia in Sefardi) means "grace" in Hebrew, and she was the wife of Elkahan and the mother of the prophet Samuel.
  • Hila: Hila means "sparkle" in Hebrew.
  • Jessica: Jessica is another name for Sarah, meaning "foresight."
  • Judith: Judith (Yehudit in Hebrew) means "woman of the tribe of Judea." In Genesis and the book of Judith, she was the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and the wife of Esau. She is the beautiful woman who snuck into the tent of the Assyrian chief Holofernes, who was attacking the Jews, and killed him.
  • Leah: Leah (or Lia) means "delicate." As told in Genesis, Leah was the older daughter of Laban and the plainer sister of Rachel, who was Jacob's first choice for a wife. Leah is one of four Matriarchs of the Jewish people.
  • Miriam: In Exodus, Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron, a prophetess and great Jewish leader who gave her people heart during their Egyptian exile. Her name has several meanings, including "sea of sorrow," "rebellion," or "wished-for child."
  • Peninah: Peninah was the less-favored wife of Elkanah, who bore the only children to Elkahan until his favorite wife Hannah bore Samuel. Peninah means "coral" or "pearl."
  • Rachel: The beautiful younger daughter of Laban and sister to Leah, Rachel was the second, favored wife of Jacob and the mother of Josef and Benjamin. She was another of the four matriarchs, and her name means "ewe" or "sheep."
  • Rebecca: In Genesis, Rebecca was the niece of Abraham, the wife of Isaac, and the mother of the twin boys Jacob and Esau. She is another of the four matriarchs, and her name means "join," "tie," and "snare."
  • Reyna: Reyna means "pure" in Hebrew.
  • Ruth: According to the book of Ruth, Ruth was a Moabite woman who upon the death of her husband Chilyon, left her people to live with her mother-in-law Naomi, eventually marrying Boaz.
  • Sarah: The "mother of nations," Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac, the first of the four matriarchs and the progenitor of the Jewish people.
  • Sharon: Sharon is not the name of a woman of the Bible, but her name is taken from the Song of Solomon (2:1), "I am the Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys."
  • Shira: Shira means "song" in Hebrew.
  • Talia: Talia means "morning dew."
  • Tamar: In Genesis, Tamar was the wife of Er, first son of Judah. Her name means "date," "date palm," or "palm tree."
  • Yael: Yael was the wife of Chever and a female prophet who killed King Yaven of Canaan and was praised by Deborah in the Book of Judges. Her name means "mountain goat."
  • Zipporah: In the book of Exodus, Zipporah (or Tzippora) was the wife of Moses, daughter of Jethro, and mother of Gershom and Eliezer. Her name is derived from the word for "bird."

Biblical Names for Boys

  • Aaron: In Genesis, Aaron was the brother of Moses, traditional founder and head of the Israelite priesthood, and his name means "lofty," "exalted," or "high mountain."
  • Abraham: Abraham was the patriarch of all of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and his name means "father of multitudes." In the book of Genesis, Abraham was the wife of Sarah, and God sent them away from their homeland to form a new nation.
  • Adam: The father of the human race, Adam was the first person created by God. He was the husband of Eve, and the father of Cain and Abel. His name means, simply, "man."
  • Asher: Asher, whose name means "happy, fortunate, blessed" in Hebrew, was the eighth son of Jacob and the founder of the Tribe of Asher, one of the ten lost tribes.
  • Benjamin: Benjamin means "son of the right hand" or "son of the south" in Hebrew, and he was the youngest son of Jacob, and a founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Caleb: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb was one of the only two Israelites who left Egypt with Moses, wholeheartedly headed for the promised land. His name means "a dog" or "faithful."
  • Daniel: Daniel's name means "God is my judge," and Daniel is remembered for standing by his faith in Persia, despite being thrown into the lion's den.
  • David: The greatest of all the kings of Israel, David's name means "beloved" or "uncle." His history is written in the books of Samuel. 
  • Eli: The high priest of Shiloh, Eli trained Samuel to be a priest. His name means "high," "elevated," or "my God."
  • Elijah: A Hebrew name meaning "the Lord is my God," Elijah was the boldest of God's prophets. 
  • Ethan: Also spelled Eitan, Ethan means "strong" or "enduring" in Hebrew, and there are several of them in the Bible. 
  • Ezra: Ezra was a scribe and leader of the people of Israel when they returned from the exile in Babylon. His name means "help" in Hebrew. 
  • Jacob: Jacob was the craftier twin brother of Esau who persuaded his brother to exchange his birthright for a bowl of soup. His birth name means "he grasps the heel" or "he deceives." He was also a prophet who wrestled with an angel; and the father of twelve sons, of whom came the 12 tribes of Israel. Despite all of Jacob's scheming and deception, God renamed him "Israel" which means "he struggles with God."
  • Jeremiah: Originally Yirmiyah, meaning "Yahweh will exalt" or "God has uplifted," Jeremiah was the prophet who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.
  • Jonathan: Named in Hebrew for "God has given," Jonathan was the son of Saul and he became the beloved friend of King David. 
  • Joshua: Joshua's name means "God is salvation," and he was the Israelite leader who took command of the children of Israel after Moses died, leading them to the promised land. 
  • Matthew: Matthew is a form of the Hebrew name "Matityahu" meaning "gift of God." Matthew was priest, and the leader and founder of the Maccabees, who defeated the Assyrians in the Hanukkah story. 
  • Michael: Michael's name means "who is like God" in Hebrew, and he was captain of the seven archangels who cast out the demons in the book of Revelation. 
  • Noah: Noah means "comfort" in Hebrew. Noah built an ark to save his family and two of each animal species on earth from the Great Flood. 
  • Noam: Noam means "tenderness."
  • Omer: Omer is a Hebrew boy's name that means "firstborn son, long-lived, eloquent and gifted speaker."
  • Samuel: Samuel's name means "who God has called," and he was the son of Hannah and Eli. Samuel was the last of the prophets and the man who anointed the first Israelite kings. 
  • Solomon: Hebrew for "peace," Solomon is one of the great Hebrew kings in the bible, who built the first temple in Jerusalem. 

Sources and More Names