Old Testament Names

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Most names found in the Old Testament are of Hebrew or Egyptian derivation and were used by the ancient Hebrews. Most of the most well-known of these names reflect the Hebrews strong devotion to God. Their names often include the elements “el” or “jah.” A few (like Moses, Aaron, Miriam, or Phineas are thought to have been picked up during their enslavement in Egypt.

Prior to the Reformation in Europe (roughly 16th century), many Old Testament names were considered mainly to be Jewish names and rarely used by Christians, due to the intolerance and prejudice of the era. Christians, by contrast, mostly bore “saintly” names, most of which had Grecian, Latin, or Germanic origins. One might find an occasional monk who took the name Jacob upon taking orders, but it was rare among Christians outside the church. Most Christians of that time were illiterate, and familiarity with the Bible was virtually nil.

There were a few exceptions. Miracle plays were quite popular in the festivals and fairs, and often illustrated some of the better-known Bible stories: Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, David and Goliath. These names were rather more common, and it was not uncommon to find an Adam, a David, or Daniel during the Middle Ages.

Occasionally, a member of a royal family (which tended to be better educated) would give a child a Biblical name, which would then spread to rest of the population (see Elizabeth, or its Spanish form, Isabella).

In the 15th century, however, there came Protestantism, a religious movement that emphasized Biblical teachings, pure and plain, and scorned the saints and cathedrals of the Catholic church. This new passion for the Bible, a new English version (the King James) along with an explosion in education that made reading it possible, made Old Testament names popular among English speakers.

Of course, these names had always been common among those of the Jewish faith. But in Puritan times we can now find scores of Christians named Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Moses, Nathan, Samuel, Solomon, or Esther, Leah, Miriam, Ruth, Rebecca, and Rachel.

In England (most notably with the Puritan sect), this was taken a step further. Even minor, relatively unimportant Biblical personages like Abishag, Amos, Asenath, Eleazar, Hiram, Isaiah, Israel, Jemima, Kezia, or Simeon were given little Puritan namesakes.

Even phrases like “Ebenezer,” or “Beulah,” or “Aphra” were used as names.

The Puritans then took their names with them when then settled at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

Biblical names, like the Calvinistic, Puritan religion, formed one of the backbones of the new American society for the next several centuries. In the 19th century, however (especially in the late 19th century), Biblical names suffered a decline, as society became more secular and new fads and fashions entered the scene. The “big” ones (like Elizabeth, Joseph, Sarah) survived, but declined; by the 1950s, most of the little ones (Asa, Ahab, Enos, Gideon, Gomer, Hezekiah, Samson) had disappeared.

At the end of the 20th century, however, a Biblical names came back into fashion. Names like Ethan, Caleb, Gabriel, Joel, Hannah, or Leah all shot to the top of the charts. Even Ezra, Ezekiel, and Gideon experienced a minor spurt in popularity, and can be found once more.



Old Testament names include:
(bold indicates the name has its own page on Edgar’s Name Pages):

Aaron
Abdiel
Abel
Abner
Abraham
Abram
Absalom
Adaliah
Adam
Adiel
Adlai
Adriel
Ahab
Amasa
Amos
Ariel
Asa
Azariah
Baruch
Benjamin
Caleb
Cyrus
Daniel
Darius
David
Ebenezer
Eleazar
Eli
Elihu
Elijah
Elisha
Elkanah
Enoch

Enos
Ephraim
Esau
Ethan
Ezekiel
Ezra
Gabriel
Gershom
Gideon
Gomer
Ham
Hezekiah
Hiram
Hosea
Ichabod
Immanuel
Ira
Isaac
Isaiah

Ishmael
Israel
Jabez
Jacob
Jared
Japheth
Jedidiah
Jehu
Jephthah
Jeremiah
Jesse
Jethro
Joab
Job
Joel
Jonathan
Jonah
Joseph
Joshua
Josiah
Judah
Lemeul
Levi

Malachi
Manasseh
Melchisadek
Methuselah

Micah
Michael

Mordecai
Moses
Nahum
Nathan
Nathaniel
Nebuchadnezzar
Nehemiah
Noah
Obadiah
Omri

Phineas
Raphael
Reuben
Salathiel

Samson
Samuel
Saul
Seth
Simeon
Solomon
Uriah
Zachary
Zebadiah
Zechariah
Zedekiah
Zephania


Female Names
Abigail
Abishag
Adah
Aphra
Asenath
Bathsheba
Bethiah
Beulah
Deborah
Delilah
Dinah

Elisheba (Elizabeth)
Esther
Eve
Hagar
Hannah
Hephzibah
Huldah
Jael
Jemima
Jerusha
Jezebel

Judith
Karenhappuch
Keturah
Kezia
Leah
Mara
Mehetabel
Miriam
Naomi
Rebecca/Rebekah
Rachel/Rachael
Ruth
Sarah
Zillah
Zilpah


Please note that this is not a complete list of all names found in the Old Testament. This is only a list of the most memorable and/or common.


Top Old Testament Names for the United States

For the year 1850

For the 20th century (overall)

For the early 1900s

For the year 2000

Joseph (8th)

1. Michael (4th place)

1. Joseph (5th place)

1. Jacob (1st place)

Samuel (14th)

2. David (6th)

2. David (29th)

2. Michael (2nd)

David (15th)

3. Joseph (9th)

3. Samuel (31st)

3. Joshua (4th)

Michael (16th)

4. Daniel (12th)

4. Michael (39th)

4. Joseph (8th)

Jacob (17th)

5. Joshua (38th)

5. Daniel (56th)

5. Daniel (9th)

Daniel (19th)

6. Jonathan (55th)

6. Sam (58th)

6. Zachary (15th)

Isaac (24th)

7. Samuel (60th)

7. Benjamin (64th)

7. David (16th)

Benjamin (29th)

8. Benjamin (66th)

8. Ben (88th)

8. Jonathan (21st)

Sam (32nd)

9. Adam (69th)

9. Jacob (96th)

9. Ethan (25th)

Adam (36th)

10. Jeremy (76th)

10. Manuel (100th)

10. Benjamin (26th)

       
       
       
       

For the year 1850

For the 20th century (overall)

For the early 1900s

For the year 2000

Sarah (2nd)

1. Elizabeth (5th place)

1. Ruth (5th)

1. Hannah (2nd place)

Elizabeth (3rd)

2. Ruth (19th)

2. Elizabeth (6th place)

2. Sarah (5th)

Hannah (24th)

3. Sharon (20th)

3. Esther (30th)

3. Elizabeth (10th)

Rebecca (35th)

4. Sarah (23rd)

4. Eva (39th)

4. Abigail (14th)

Rachel (42nd)

5. Deborah (25th)

5. Sarah (46th)

5. Rachel (21st)

Esther (97th)

6. Rebecca (34th)

6. Rachel (142nd)

6. Rebecca (41st)

Elizebeth (99th)

7. Judith (64th)

7. Rebecca (161st)

7. Gabrielle (49th )

Eva (104th)

8. Rachel (79th)

8. Naomi (163rd)

8. Gabriella (96th)

Ruth (113th)

9. Esther (132nd)

9. Miriam (173rd)

9. Leah (97th)

Rachael (114th)

10. Eva (140th)

10. Hannah (187th)

10. Gabriela (101st)



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