Adonai called me from the womb;
before I was born, he had spoken my name. (Isaiah 49:1)
I’ve often wondered how we were given the names we have, first and last. For example, my first name is Michael. Without being boastful, in Hebrew Michael is written as מיכאל, Mika’el, and it means ‘who is like God’, implying, of course, none are like God. I say this because I am Jewish, and I like my name. However, my last name, Wodlinger, is a bit of a mystery. I conducted a search of this name, through a genealogical site, and although I found many people with the same name, I could find no one before the 1880s with the same name. This aroused a curiosity within me, and I began to research what our names mean.
I learned, for example, in ancient times, people were often named for what their family did, as children were required to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. As examples, those who worked creating barrels, were called coopers. Often surnames were derived from personal characteristics, such as Eric the Red, who founded the first Norse settlement of Greenland. His name name derived from either or both his red hair and his fiery temper.
In Scripture, we often find meaning for the names of people. For example, Abraham means ‘father of many’ and Caleb, one of the twelve spies who ventured into Cana’an, during the exodus from Egypt, means ‘dog’, possibly because his father was not a Hebrew. We often find names for people that alluded to their personalities, such as the sons of Naomi, from the Book of Ruth. These were named Machlon, meaning sickness, and Kilyon, meaning destruction. We also know Adonai Yeshua’s Name means ‘Salvation’; quite fitting, don’t you think?
Today, we have different reasons for naming children. Some are names for biblical figures, such as Jeremiah and Esther, while others are named to honour deceased family members. And there are those who are named for the seasons – Summer, Spring – and months – July, August.
Whatever your name means, and I urge you to explore its meaning. You might find it reveals something about you and your origins.
We do know, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, in Revelation 2:17, shared with us, I will also give him a white stone, on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving it, referring to those who hear His knocking at the doors of their hearts and are open to Him in their lives.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.