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Do Shakespeare and the Old Testament agree on the meaning of names?

Do names have meanings in the Book of Genesis?

What is the Meaning of Names in the Old Testament?

Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I have to say that when I named my children I felt a heavy responsibility to give them the right name. The problem was that there was no way of knowing if the name was right or not The Bible also believes that names are very important. We are often given, not only meanings, but reasons for names in the Bible.

Names in the Beginning of the Book of Genesis

In the beginning of the Book of Genesis, God gives the honor of naming the animals to Adam and God Himself changed Abraham and Sarah’s names in Genesis 17. An angel of God tells Hagar to name her son Ishmael and God tells Abraham to name his son Isaac. Surely, if God gets involved with naming people, it is important to Him!

Using Bible Study Tools

  • Discuss with your child/student if they think a name is important.
  • Do they think that they would be the same person if they had received a different name?
  • Do they think that it is a big responsibility when naming a child?
  • What about the naming of all of the animals?

Have your children/students learn more about their own names. Have them talk to someone who knows why they received the names that they did.

They could also research:

  • what their name means
  • who else has their name
  • if it appears in the Bible
  • If the child is named after someone, have him find out the good qualities of the person he was named after.

Going Further:

Go to the projects page and have your student/child pick an avenue to express his name and what it means. For instance, he may want to make a TV or radio commercial telling how his name is just right for him or why it is a good name for new parents to give to their baby. If his name appears in the Bible he may want to make a collage with all of the verses containing his name. Another idea would be to write a story of how he meets the Biblical character with the same name and how they discover similarities in their personalities. Some countries ban weird names being given to babies. Older children can discuss if they agree with this law.

Let your child have fun with his name and make it more meaningful to him – after all he is going to have his name for a long time! Feel free to contact me. I would love to see some projects and hear what your child came up with about their name.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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