Book Review: Sources for Meanings of Bible Names

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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It has been said that believers ought to be careful in drawing interpretations of Scripture based on the meanings of names found there. On the other hand, the great significance of the meaning of names in the Bible is readily apparent in Matthew 1:2323Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23); so too in the case of Abigail when, describing her husband Nabal, she said to David, “For as his name is, so is he” (1 Sam. 25:2525Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. (1 Samuel 25:25)). From this example we learn that wherever the Spirit of God has been pleased to record a name in Scripture, its meaning will not be without significance and instruction for us.
There are many sources available to Christians for discovering the various meanings of Biblical names. While it is beyond the scope of this article to review all such sources, the list presented here has been personally very helpful over the years in pursuing such studies. This list should not be considered as an only or a best list but as a personal list which has been found to be both reliable and helpful.
It should be noted that the meanings of some names found in Scripture are subject to a difference of opinion among various Biblical scholars. Thus, it is important for believers to take up such a study in humility and submission to the Spirit of God.
The following, then, are some reliable sources which may be accessed when seeking to determine the meaning of Biblical proper names.
1. A Dictionary of Proper Names, J. B. Jackson.
2. Dictionary of Bible Proper Names, C. A. Potts.
3. Hebrew Proper Names, G. V. Wigram.
4. A Concordance to the Holy Scriptures, C. H. J. Davidson. (This concordance of the J. N. Darby Translation includes an extensive dictionary of names and their meanings, compiled by Mr. Darby.)
5. Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Robert Young.
6. A New and Concise Bible Dictionary, George A. Morrish. (This is a very helpful source of general Biblical information, including names highly recommended for anyone studying the Bible.)
Generally, the concordances found in the back of Bibles also have the meanings of names included.
There are many computer software editions of the Bible which include Hebrew and Greek lexicons that have the meanings of names provided. The “Online Bible” (Online Bible Software, Ken Hamel) is one of several very good packages available for Macintosh and DOS/Windows computers.
Since there are, as mentioned, times when various scholars have not agreed on the meaning of a Biblical name, we would recommend prayerfully checking multiple sources in seeking to determine what a particular proper name may mean.