How to Discover the Significance of Biblical Names

Each week this summer the Logos Pros will teach you how to master the tools and resources of Logos Bible Software. You’ll get some pointers and some study questions. 

Names in the Bible frequently do something different than names in contemporary Western culture. Western names express cultural solidarity, but their etymological meaning is generally beside the point (how many “Jonathans” know that their name derives from “gift of God”?).

In the Bible, however, certain names are given by God—Abraham, Isaac, Israel—and therefore bear special significance. Yahweh replaced Abram with Abraham as a sign and expectation that he would one day father many children. Isaac means “laughter”—his name pokes divine fun at Abraham’s own laughter upon receiving news that his barren wife, past childbearing age, would bear a son.

Other Bible names express the beliefs of the parents, and therefore provide access to insights into the biblical text. Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon, Chilion, Orpah, Ruth—in this week’s video, we’ll find insight into the narrative of the book of Ruth by looking up these names, and we’ll discover some helpful resources for studying Bible names.

Recommended Resources

Study Questions

  • How does Jonah’s name shed light on his story?
  • What story have you read lately? What is revealed by the characters’ names?

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