Hebrew Bible

Names You Didn’t Know Are from Torah

Lots of popular names have biblical origins not intended as Hebrew names per se, whether hoping the child emulates those same good qualities or just because they are very pretty. No matter if your name you go by is shared with someone in the Torah or if it is from a completely non-Jewish culture, make it special with something personalized or monogrammed

 

Whether you are thinking of Jewish names for your upcoming birth, or you are looking to make a gift even more special by adding a personal name onto it, many people don’t even realize how meaningful their names are.

Traditional, Biblical Names
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Some names are widely popular across cultures or come from biblical figures we know next to nothing about, so many walk around without a clear understanding of the original figures who bore their names. Many parents don't even know the source of their kids' names is the Torah!

Whether your name is obviously Hebrew, subtly so, or from another culture entirely, there are great ways to incorporate it into jewelry and art of all kinds. A name is a personal reflection of someone’s individuality, so why should your Judaica be any different?

It might be that it morphed over time, such as ‘James / Seamus’ which come from ‘Yaakov’ from transferring back and forth across languages like a game of broken telephone, but here are names plucked directly out of the text without most people even knowing. 

 

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Jared
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The fact that Jared is taken from the Torah comes as a surprise to many, though so do the bulk of traditional ‘J-’ names. The reason this may be so overlooked is because virtually nothing is known about him, and his name appears only in a list of names in Genesis between the times of Adam and Noah, meaning ‘descent’. 

If you want an engraved gift for a man who doesn’t like to wear jewelry, this personalized tallit bag is a great gift option, that he’ll look at fondly every morning. Even before its ornamented with his name, it has a gorgeous line-drawing of Jerusalem, and a famous Torah quote. Add on these traditional tallit-clips for an even more personal prayer-routine.

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Abigail
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Abigail is a Hebrew name for ‘father’s joy’, with the figure being a wife of King David. For Jews living in the west, this is probably the most common out of all the names on this list, possibly because it is a lovely, Torah-based name that fits in most circles with its wide popularity (ranked 12th in America, 2020). 

If you want to get Avigail, or any other name written up on a gold-plated pendant, then you can, along with a personalized message in the box. This would make a cherished gift, and if you don’t know how to type the name in Hebrew letters, you can type it in English to be converted by one of us.

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Isabel / Elizabeth
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Isabel, with all its variants, took hold very prominently in Spain, and hence many Sephardi Jews still use this name. Likewise, Elizabeth became incredibly popular in the England, both of which are understood to be from the Hebrew Elisheva, who was the wife of Aaron haCohen.

Given how different these sound however, many have stipulated Isabel is from Yizevel or in English, Jezebel, the idolatrous queen who killed many prophets.

If true, this would hardly be the only popular choice with a bad namesake. Nimrod and even Omri are growing in popularity in Israel among the non-religious population, despite being villains in the Torah.

Whatever the history, if you want your personalized jewelry to have even more personal flare to it check out the personalized name rings, like this one, engraved and with a choice of birthstones. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, believed birthstones originated from the 12 gems on Aaron haCohen's breastplate ("urim v'tumim") to aid in prophesy, and symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel.

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Jessica
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Jessica, Hebrew Yiska for ‘G-d Beholds’, is another name that people might gloss over only being mentioned so briefly, but she is the sister of Lot, and niece of Abraham. Interestingly, most English transliterations are Iscah, and 'Jessica' was first used in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, as the daughter of the Jewish Shylock. Likewise, people might think Jesse is related to or even a nickname of Jessica, but this is a totally separate male name in the Tanakh, Yishai

Whether you would spell it in Hebrew or English, this beautiful Torah-sourced name would look great on a bracelet in gold or silver. Some names are more common in English spellings, and look just as nice made into jewelry, but add it in Hebrew for a more traditional feeling.

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Matthew
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Matthew is often associated with Christianity, as it has added significance in that culture, but there are at least a couple famous Jewish Matthews, or Matityahu in Hebrew. The first time is in the early pages of Genesis meaning ‘Gift of G-d’ somewhat in passing, but those familiar with the Hanukkah story will know the patriarch of the Maccabees, Mattityahu

The shofar was also used as a battle horn, which Mattityahu Maccabee would have used leading Jewish troops. You can also get a Yemenite kudu-horn shofar made up to your liking. Get it personalized with any name, in English or Hebrew spelling. This is made with sterling silver and added fine gold plating.

 

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Bonus: Hebrew Names Not from Torah
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Lots of Israelis are naming their children using non-Biblical Hebrew names, often from natural terms like Tamara (‘date’), Shahar (Dawn), or Ofek (Horizon) for girls, and Ilan/Elon (tree), Tal (dew), or Aviv (springtime) for boys. That said, some natural names are found in Tanakh, like ‘Penina’ meaning ‘pearl’, in Shmuel I.

Even traditional Hebrew names are often not from the Tanakh, like Chaim (life) and Meir (illumination), that have roots in Kabbalah and which are often written on art to evoke spiritual reminders for wellbeing. 

One funny addition is the extremely popular name Alexander, technically a ‘Hebrew’ name, but not Hebrew. When Alexander the Great came through the Land of Israel, he did not destroy the Temple and as a gesture, the High Priest Shimon decreed all boys born that year would be Alexander, making this probably the only Greek name that could be someone’s official ‘Hebrew’ name.

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What's in a Name?
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One of the merits by which the Israelites were able to make the exodus of Egypt is by retaining the practice of Jewish names, which then as now, were given in special ceremonies, either at the brit milah for boys, or a kiddush for girls.

Whether you have a separate 'English' name, or use the same one for all purposes, acknowledge how special it is with personalized name gifts and personalized jewelry.

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