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Old Testament Boys' Names

Of the many names included in the Old Testament of the Bible, these are the ones that have found the most favor over the years:

Name Dropping

Are there any biblical names in today's name pool that should be avoided? Not really, although there are a number of these names, such as Ephraim, Enoch, Hiram, and Cyrus, that are little used today because they are out of date. If you're thinking about using one of them because you like old-fashioned names, keep in mind that they might be better as middle names as they may be too dated for a little guy to handle.

What's in a Name

During the times of the Old Testament, children were named immediately following their birth and were given names that described their character, the family's feelings about God, or certain circumstances surrounding their birth. Place names and the names of plants and animals also were popular.

  • Aaron: "Exhalted one." Aaron was the older brother and spokesperson for Moses.
  • Abraham: "Father of many." Abraham is considered the patriarch of both the Hebrews and Arabs.
  • Adam: It comes from the Hebrew adama, meaning "red earth."
  • Amos: You'll find the book bearing his name near the end of the Old Testament. Amos was a minor prophet who prophesied in the eighth century B.C.E. The name in Hebrew means "burden."
  • Benjamin: It means "son of the right hand" and was the name of Jacob's youngest son, who went on to lead one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • Caleb: Caleb, along with Joshua, bears the distinction of being the only adult allowed to enter the Promised Land after the Hebrews wandered the desert for 40 years. The name means "faithful" or "a dog."
  • Cyrus: Cyrus the Great, who liberated the Jews from Babylonian captivity, was the founder of the Persian empire.
  • David: It means "beloved," and it's a fitting name for one of the most beloved characters in the Bible. David, the greatest of the Israelite kings, began his career with the dramatic slaying of the giant Goliath. His story is one of the many examples of redemption given in the Bible.
  • Eli: "High" or "scent." Eli was a high priest of Israel.
  • Enoch: "Dedicated." A common name in the Old Testament, borne by the oldest son of Cain and a son of Jared.
  • Ephraim: "Fruitful." Epharaim, the second son of Joseph and Asenath, was the father of the tribe named after him.
  • Gideon: "One who cuts down," "slayer." Gideon was an Israelite judge who helped defeat the Midianites.
  • Hiram:" Exalted brother." One of the Hirams in the Bible was a king who helped build David's palace.
  • Hosea: "Salvation." He was the first of the minor prophets.
  • Ira: "Watchful." Ira was a Jairite priest and adviser to King David.
  • Isaac: "Laughter." Isaac was the much-loved son of Abraham and Sarah.
  • Jacob: "Supplanter." Jacob was the younger twin brother of Esau who purchased his brother's birthright. He was also the father of 12 sons who became the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Jesse: "Gift" or "wealth." Jesse was the father of David.
  • Jonah: "Dove." Jonah was the fellow who ended up spending three days in the belly of a whale because he refused to follow God's orders.
  • Jordan: "To flow down" or "descend." The Jordan River was the chief river in Palestine.
  • Levi: "Joining" or "adhering." Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah and the head of the priestly Levite tribe.
  • Mordecai: "Worshiper of Marduk" or "a little man." Mordecai was the cousin and foster father of Esther and helped to save the Jews from Haman.
  • Moses: "Taken from the water." Moses, the great partriach and leader of the Jews, was given his name by the Egyptian princesses who found him. Sadly, after bringing his people through 40 years of exile in the desert, Moses was denied entry into the promised land because God felt he hadn't been faithful enough.
  • Nathan: "Gift." Nathan was the prophet who held David accountable for the death of Bathseba's husband, which left her free to marry.
  • Noah: "Rest" or "comfort." The human race started all over again with Noah and his clan
  • Reuben: "Behold, a son." Reuben was the oldest son of Jacob and Leah and the head of a tribe that bears his name.
  • Saul: "Asked for." Saul was the first Israelite king.
  • Seth: "Appointed." Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve.
  • Solomon: "Peaceful." Solomon was the son of and successor to King David, noted for his wisdom.

There is also a large number of lovely Old Testament Girls' Names you can choose from.

More on: Choosing a Name


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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