The Twelve Names Over Time

11971217051715640773ernes_orologio_clock.svg.medIt’s common knowledge that biblical names have gotten predominant male usage. The handful of female names used from the Bible is far outweighed by male, and a great example is a look at the names of The Twelve, Jesus’ disciples.

Peter, John, 2 James’s, Andrew, Thomas, Philip, Matthew, Simon, 2 Judas’s, and Bartholomew.

Let’s start with John. John is the second most common male name, who at one time was the long reigning King of the Top 1,000. Not only because of the disciple, but also the Baptist. 1 out of every 67 people are named John, and that’s not factoring in Jon or Jonathan. Think Kennedy, Travolta, Wayne, Lennon, Mayor…

James. Statistically the most common male name. 1 out of 64 people are named James. James Fenimore Cooper, James Cameron, Brown, Garfield, Dean… From President to Painter to Farmer, he’s been a sweet baby name.

lPeter Peter Pumpkin Eater. Peter Rabbit. Peter Pan. Peter swept through the Norman army in the early centuries all the way through Disney and children’s books. He is undoubtedly a part of our culture, both non-fictionally and fictionally. You could say he’s a Family Guy. He’s loved a Bunch. Sorry.

Simon, besides being another name of Peter’s, was worn by two other disciples. Simon is simply a cool, steady name that strums golden notes.

Bartholomew, while a beautiful name, has gotten sparing use. However, Bartholomew’s alternate name, Nathanael, certainly has. During the Protestant Reformation, the spelling Nathaniel took off. In 2013, Nathaniel was at #91, while the original Nathanael was at #565. Think Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nat King Cole. On a side note, Bartholomew is the only name of the disciples that’s not a one or two syllable name. Which is actually still quite common today, as 66 out of the Top 100 boys’ names are two syllable.

Andrew. Indeed a manly name with glints of wisdom and whispery gentleness. He’s industrious and made of steel. He’s musical, and has been loved by many children alongside Ann.

Matthew is similar to Andrew. But while Andy is easily the whistling local love, Matt is the tough guy jock. He’s a rocker and a Daredevil, and a name that’s certainly gotten a lot of use.

Thomas. Doesn’t Thomas always seem to be the name used in books and movies for the simple husband of some outspoken matron? Am I thinking too Mrs. Rachel Lynde? Yet Thomas is no slouch. He’s been a philanthropic president and a genius inventor, hilarious, and a classic character.

philip-samsonPhilip has been a prince, in real life and in books. He seems lithe like a horse, and gentle like birds of the forest. He’s worn royal robes, he’s worn sandals. He’s sung for Tarzan, painted. He’s been around, and isn’t picky by who claims him. (Completely off topic, Prince Philip’s horse in Sleeping Beauty is named Samson.)

Judas. Ah, Judas. Lady Gaga has tried to revive him without much success. His counterparts Judah and Jude, however, have taken up his slack and been worth a lot more than 30 coins. Judas, like the name Adolf, has for the most part been kissed goodbye.

“And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Luke 6:13-16

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The Boy Made of Stars

orion-2I’ve tried writing this a thousand times. But I’ve tossed every version.

My relationship with Amy revolves a lot around humor, and since I like to pretend I’m witty and sarcastic and contagious, I wanted my article to be based on that.

But the stars had other ideas.

I met Amy in the summer of 2013, which was my first summer on Instagram. Stephanie @anastasiaruby mentioned her to me. “You should hear her daughter’s name!” she told me. And when I read Rhys Alexandria Maeve, I knew this Army chick and I would be friends.

It’s true. While I’m a pasty veteran farm girl, Amy is a United States veteran with many tats on her flawless skin and an assurance she’d never enjoy mucking manure. Or being chased by animals. But we’ll talk about that later…

In other words, we were #twinsies in different shades of brave.

The beautiful thing that has happened to me on Instagram is that I get to meet beautiful, genuine people like Amy. Fellow moms and moms-to-be. I’ve been in it long enough to see people pre-baby and post-baby a few times over. And Amy’s story got to intertwine with mine, and for that I’m truly blessed.

A few months into our Instagram chatting, Amy got pregnant with her second baby. And wouldn’t you know it, she was blessed that a name nut had entered her life. Or her husband Danny was blessed, I’m not sure yet.

Amy is a self proclaimed nomatophobic. That’s a person who has a fear or hatred of names. Combine that with her inability to decide because of the off chance she’ll screw up her child’s life by giving them the wrong name, and I suddenly had my hands full. Literally, full. I was exchanging texts with her like rapid fire, and I was gettin’ down and giving her names by the twenties, and vice versa.

A ways in, long after she found out this babe was a boy, we came to a place where we were stuck up to our ears. Danny liked Anson, and for a few days that was the name. But Amy realized it wasn’t the one.

I felt a twinkling in my heart. “Amy,” I texted, “what do you think about Orion?”

“It makes me sad,” she replied.

“Why????” I texted back before my read receipt had even appeared.

When she and Danny were apart, even as they were both serving in Afghanistan in the Army, they would both look up at Orion when they were thinking about each other.

I know. You can pick yourself up off the floor. I said to her what you’re thinking.


And with that, I realized this baby’s name was sealed in the heavens.

“Danny likes it,” she texted.

“Good, now I’m gonna get you to,” I said with my thumbs.

Every name she mentioned, I compared to Orion. And Amy had this thing about wanting to honor the year of the horse. So then I lassoed her with this one day…

“Amy, did you know the horsehead nebula is in the constellation Orion?”

She responded with a Untitled-1

Later that day I got a text from her that she’d found out NASA was sending off a new exploratory spacecraft called Orion in 2014.

So that pretty much settled it.

orionOrion Matthew was born this last August, and to say I cried would be an understatement. I blubbered. Because in his being born had also birthed something beautiful in my own heart.

I never took my small part with Amy and Danny for granted. I realized the entire way that I had been invited on an expedition that was extremely intimate and special. Someday, when I meet Orion, I know he’s going to tug at my heart. In a very small way, I have gotten the opportunity to shape his life. And that’s nothing to laugh about.

Thank you, Amy and Danny, for inviting me into your story of how Orion got his name. I hope that I was your cheerleader, and not like that baby raccoon who rabidly chased you while you were barefoot and pregnant.

Rhys & Orion, Fall 2014
Rhys & Orion, Fall 2014


Shiloh, Jedidiah and Awesomesauce

bnb-qMy name is Alicia and my husband, Philip, and I are expecting our 3rd child and are in need of help with names!!!

To give you some background, we had a miscarriage at 14 weeks with identical twins back in 2007.  Due to having a D&C, we never found out the gender.  We gave the twins the names: Avery Lynn and Peyton Lee – names that could be either gender and after us: our middle names are Lynn and Leigh.

After we lost the twins, we had a hard time conceiving again (NOT a problem the first time around). Two years later, we finally got pregnant. We chose to be surprised with the gender and so the names we had picked out were: Shiloh Grace and Jedidiah.

Why these?? Shiloh, as it was the place in the Bible where Hannah went asking the Lord for a child. And Grace because we just felt God’s grace on us throughout our journey.

Jedidiah, because in the Bible when David & Bathsheba had their affair and got pregnant, they lost that child. Then when they married and God allowed them to conceive again, they had Solomon. God was so pleased that he sent the prophet Nathan to them to tell them to name him, Jedidiah.

So, when we had our girl, we named her Shiloh Grace.

9 months later, we surprise, got pregnant again!  This time, due to a hectic time in our lives, we decided to find out the gender. When we found out were having a boy, we still loved the name, Jedidiah. Even though it wasn’t quite the same as using it for our 1st child, we loved it and named him Jedidiah Paul – after my father.

Both names fit the children SO well.

Now, we are expecting our 3rd. We would, ideally, love to use another Biblical name, but are having a hard time. We like “different” but not “too different”.

The names we have zeroed in on for girls are:

Abigail Ruth

Sarah _____

Charleigh Joy

We both love the stories of Abigail and Ruth from the Bible.  I’m not sure I want to do another longer name and use a nickname though and my husband said he would call Abigail, Abby. (Jedidiah is Jed most of the time).

We are having a hard time coming up with a middle name for Sarah – we don’t want a double name (Sarah Beth), etc.

Charleigh – my husband’s grandfather was Charlie and I think it’s adorable for a girl…but it fits a spunky-type girl and we already have one of those, I’m hoping for a more laid-back child.

Boys names……NONE from the Bible that we can agree on!

Charlie _______

Brandon Luke

Again, grandpa Charlie, but I do NOT like Charles for a first name but am “Ok” with Charlie.

Brandon, nothing “special” just both kind of like it. Luke, from the Bible, but also an uncle of my husband’s.

My husband doesn’t want to use his name, Philip, as part of theirs…..

Anyways, we typically keep the name a surprise until it’s born, which is why I’m emailing YOU. I found your site and love how you seem to put names together so nicely. Just wondered if you’d have any insight for us or have any Biblical names that you think would flow nicely with Shiloh and Jedidiah.

Thank you!

bnb-aHi, Alicia! Your children are certainly sporting beautiful names. You and your husband undoubtedly have the amazing ability to name your children wonderfully and with meaning, so I have no doubt that Baby #3 will be, also.

You said you like “different but not too different names”. I think you nailed that with Shiloh and Jedidiah, pairing more different names with less different middles, making a pleasant and more palatable balance.

So I was a little surprised that the names you suggested so far for Baby #3 were anything but that. Those names are extremely common and extremely un-different.

Starting with the girls names, Abigail and Ruth I would say, would work better in the middle spot, though Joy would accompany Grace very nicely. Charleigh, it took me a few minutes to read it as Charlie. I kept wanting to say Carlie. I also think it doesn’t blend well at all with your other children’s names, and I think you see that.

Moriah, another biblical place name like Shiloh, has never hit below 400 in the Top 1,000, making it more uncommon. And the non Biblical spelling Mariah, which is pronounced differently, never climbed beyond #63, and is actually falling.

Moriah is also a lovely choice for you, because in Genesis 22, Moriah is the place where Abraham, on the third day, brings Isaac to the land of Moriah. It’s there God tests Abraham and finds that he is indeed a man of faith, and God vows to bless him and the inheritance of his children. A meaningful yet subtle nod for Baby #3. Moriah means, “God is my teacher”.

Zillah, as the lovely Amelia pointed out, is the third woman mentioned in the Bible. Zillah means “shade”.

Cassia is a name I always suggest. It’s so beautiful, and so uncommon, and did I mention beautiful? Cassia, like Shiloh, could easily go nickname free. Cassia is a spice used in incense in the Bible, and on the third day, when God was creating the separation of earth and sea, and making vegetation and life to grow, I can picture the cassia tree. For thousands of years to come, it would make its way to the Lord as beautiful worship and prayer. And the altar of incense was the third piece of furniture in the Holy Place.

For the boys, like Charleigh, I don’t see Charlie fitting well. Brandon I could see as a middle.

Zechariah, like Jedidiah, is pretty awesome. Handsomely awesome. Zach and Jed are pretty rad bro names if you ask me. Which you are, so… ;P And buckle your seatbelt, because in Zechariah 13:9, it says

“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

There’s that third again. And in a pretty awesome scripture. My new meaning for Zechariah is “awesomesauce”.

Zechariah is strong like Jedidiah and certainly holds his own, yet also has that sweet, laid back cool guy nickname, just like Jed. If you didn’t notice, I’m pulling pretty hard for Zachariah.

Did I mention that there were three Zechariah’s in the days of King David?

Zechariah means “God has remembered”, or “remembered of the Lord”.

Okay, I’ll stop with Zechariah if I have to. Seth is the third son of Adam and Eve, though it does clash a bit with Shiloh. But Abel, man and name that I love, was the third man mentioned in the Bible. Pair him with the nickname Abe, which has THREE LETTERS, and boom, you’ve got another amazing name to think about. Seriously. This is so much fun.

So, to wrap up if you’ve made it this far… It’s possible you fell off your chair at the gloriousness of Zechariah, and hopefully didn’t succumb to Eli’s outcome.

Cassia, Zillah and Moriah. All gorgeous. My favorite? Cassia Ruth. You could say it means “prayerful friendship”.

Zechariah, Seth and Abel. My favorite? Wait for it… Zechariah Brandon.

I truly hope I helped, and definitely please let me know what you decide. It’s all so exciting!

And from my heart, congratulations.


Genesis Gems

amelia-series-picAmelia, a fellow name sister, writer and YouTuber, begins her journey here on her “Biblical Gems” series. In Genesis, she’s picked her favorite names she wants to highlight. To say I’m excited about this is an understatement. Many heartfelt thanks to this talented person for exploring the names in the Bible with us.






My first choice for girls happens to be the second female name mentioned in the Bible. Several generations after Eve we come across Adah. Adah first appears as the Wife of Lamech (Gen 4:19). It must have been a fairly common name in biblical times; another Adah is the wife of Esau (Gen 36:2). This name would make a wonderful alternative to the uber-popular Ava. Adah is a Hebrew name that means ‘adornment.’Adah is simple and charming, it sounds down to earth and would fit in with the name trends of today.

Lamech had two wives. Adah was the first and Zillah was the second, making her the third woman mentioned in the Bible (Gen 4:19). Although this name means ‘shade’ in Hebrew, I don’t picture it on a woman who likes to sit back and let others take the spotlight. It is definitely a spunky choice! Zillah can also be spelt Tzillah or Tzila. If you are looking for an adventurous, zippy choice, Zillah is one to consider!

When people think of the wife of Abraham, Sarah is usually the woman who comes to mind. However, Abraham remarried after his first wife Sarah died. His second wife’s name was Keturah (Gen 25:1). Keturah is Hebrew in origin and means ‘Incense.’ Keturah has a beautiful, exotic sound but would fit in well with modern trends. Keturah is as sweet as its meaning and would be an original, gorgeous choice for your little girl.

One of my personal favourite names of the moment is Mehetabel. This is the Old Testament alternative to Isabel. Mehetabel is oh-so-grand, with a plethora of nickname possibilities. The Mehetabel of Genesis was the wife of Hadar, King of Edom (Gen 36:39). This name was popular among the Puritans, but is basically unheard of today. Mehetabel is a Hebrew name that means “God makes me happy.”

The final girls name I have from the Book of Genesis is Asenath. Asenath is a name I have loved for a very long time. In Genesis she was the Egyptian wife of Joseph (Gen 41:45). Asenath is of Egyptian origin and means “Devoted to the Goddess Neith.” I love Asenath as an alternative to the many commonly used middle names that begin with ‘A.’ If you were brave enough it could make a very interesting first name choice as well.




Eliezer is one of my personal favourites from the Old Testament. Although the more famous biblical Eliezer is the son of Moses, it is also the name of Eliezer of Damascus, a steward of Abraham (Gen 15:2). Eliezer is of Hebrew origin and means “God is my help.” Eliezer gives you the possible nickname ‘Eli’, and would be a great alternative to the very popular ‘Elijah.’

Despite being several thousand years old, the name Kemuel manages to sound new and fresh. This name would fit in perfectly with today’s popular choices. In Genesis, Kemuel is the son of Nahor and Milcah (Gen 22:21). Kemuel is derived from Hebrew and means “God is rising.” This would be a good choice for someone who wants a distinctly biblical name that fits in well with today’s trends.

Since Isaac and Isaiah have now both found a spot among the 50, Issachar suddenly seems like a viable option. Issachar (Is-uh-kar) was the fifth son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 30:18). It is of Hebrew origin and means “Hireling.” This name might come with some spelling and pronunciation issues. Still, it is definitely a name to consider if you are looking for an unusual biblical choice. With the names of his brothers Levi, Asher and Benjamin rising in popularity, maybe it’s time to give Issachar a chance!

I thought it would be fun to have a ‘Z’ name for the boy’s as well. Zebulon was the younger brother of Issachar and the sixth and final son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 30:20) Zebulon has Hebrew origins and means “An honoured dwelling place.” This name is great for parents looking for a fun biblical choice that is adventurous but still completely accessible. The nickname ‘Zeb’ adds an extra playful and modern feel to this ancient name.

The last name I chose follows a pattern that is very popular in naming today: it has two syllables and ends with an ‘N’ (Think: Ethan, Mason, Jackson.) Hezron is one you likely haven’t heard on the playground. In Genesis, Hezron is the name given to one of the sons of Reuben (Gen 46:9), as well as one of the sons of Perez (Gen 46:12). Hezron is a Hebrew name that means “Enclosed.” Despite following the popular two syllable pattern, this name has a very unique sound. Hezron has never been popular in modern times and you could be nearly certain your little Hez wouldn’t have to share his name with any classmates. It could also be a fun way to subtly honour Great Uncle Ron.

For more from Amelia, visit her YouTube and Facebook.

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