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25 Of The Best Hebrew Names

 

There is an ancient Jewish saying that each time a baby is born, the world begins again. As the first monotheistic religion, Judaism has its roots in the Bible, composed of the 5 books of Moses and called the Torah. There is a firm belief that the Torah was handed down by God to Moses.

In the Torah it says that in the beginning of life we get a name, and at the end, that good name is all that we take with us. Therefore, it is believed that the name of a child is is not to be taken lightly and should relate to their essence.

Hebrew, the language spoken by Jews from ancient times has meaningful, enchanting and often mystical names. When parents name the baby, they often search for the name of a deceased relative whom they wish to honor. The identity of the newborn is tied to the past and hope for the future. It can reflect religious and spiritual beliefs as well.

Jewish names are so tied to the spirituality of the individual, that they are almost like an alter-ego.

For thousands of years the Jews were dispersed to all corners of the globe. Jews who lived in Europe never named a child after a living relative. They keep the memory of a deceased relative alive by naming a newborn after a family member who had honorable characteristics. The Jews who lived in North Africa had the opposite view.

A firstborn was to be named after the paternal grandfather or grandmother, the second after the maternal side, whether they were living or deceased.

Hebrew names can be in memory of a biblical figure, or an interpretation of their name. Nature plays a big role, and babies are named after plants,flowers, trees, strong animals, as well as seasons of the years and Jewish holidays. In the U.S. it seems that boys names in hebrew are more popular than girls. There are approximately 2800 original first names in the Bible….here are some of the best.

25 Yair

 

 

Yair is a great single syllabyle name that means, "he will illuminate." In the Tora there are only 3 people who have this name, the son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph and Mordecai's father. Manessah was a tribe of Isrealites who joined the new kingdom under Saul. The tribes remained loyal to Saul until his death. Once his son took over, these tribes joined with the northern Isrealites and threw their support behind David.

In recent history, there has been an Olympic runner named Yair Pantilat 1939) and a scientist who is a member of Knesset (1911-1999), Yair Sprinzak. Today there's a famous tennis player who's name is Yair Wertheimer

In Hebrew this is considered a light and color name. Another variant of this name is Jair, and in 2013 both versions of the name were in the top 1000 names. Today, Yair sits at #7943 on the popular names list.

24 Devorah

My own hebrew name (female) always had people making buzzing noises in my presence. This is because Devorah (in English Deborah) is hebrew for bee. Two important women in the Torah had this name. The first was the nursemaid of Isaac's wife Rebecca, a matriarch of the Jews.

The second Devorah who is more famous was the leader and one of only seven prophetess of the Jewish people whose words are recorded in the Bible. For forty years (1107-1067 BCE) Devorah made decisions beneath a palm tree in the Land of Israel.

It is written that like the leaves of a palm tree turn upward, the people should unite and turn their eyes towards God above. Devorah was very respected for her devotion to the law and wisdom

When Devorah felt that the people had solidified their belief in God, she called for an army to defeat the Canaanites who were oppressing the Israelites. Due to her efforts in teaching the people the ways of God and their acceptance, she composed a poem which is still read today about the victory, called "The Song of Devorah."

The relationship of the name Devorah to a bee is that just as bees swarm behind a leader, the Israelites united behind strong prophets and sages who taught them the ways of God.

23 Rinat

Rinat is a sparkling girl's name originating in Israel. It is derived from Rina and means happiness, or a joyful song. In the book of Isaiah it says "The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; they break forth into joyful song." In numerology, those with this name are considered balanced, shy, considerate and trustworthy.

The hebrew name signifies happiness, optimism, a good hearted person with a full life.

There are many versions of this lovely name in multiple cultures. Names like Irena, Regina, Sarena, Karina. In the Sanskrit language it means "melted or dissolved." In Japanese it means "white jasmine." In Italian it's a nickname which is short for Caterina or Marina. It is also a Tatar name meaning "Revolution." In Russia some famous athletes are named Rinat, and they are all male!

Rinat is sometimes used as a boys name and it is 2.6 times more common for it to be a boys name, except in modern Hebrew where it is used only for girls.

22 Noam

An enchanting and popular hebrew name, Noam means "pleasant, delight, sweet, friend." In the book of Proverbs 3:17 it says "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." The name is related to the girl's name Naomi and is one of the top 10 names in Israel.

Some derivatives of the name are the adjective "naim" which means "beautiful" and "good looking," and the masculine plural noun "man'ammim" which means delicacies. Some girls have this name, and it is also a place in southern Israel.

Noam is pronounced with two clear syllables, no and am. (not gnome!) and an alternative to the more familiar name "Noah." In numerology, the personality number of Noam is 9 which means a sensitive and compassionate soul with an artistic soul. In 2008 Noam was the most popular name for Israeli babies, given to 1970 boys and 515 girls.

Often it is confused with the famous biblical character Noah. In 2010 it remained number one on the list, today it is number 15.

Noam Chomsky, famous linguist and philosopher is perhaps the most recognized person with this name.

21 Aviad

Pronounced A-vee- ad, this is a strong name originating in Israel. It is a combination name. It means "everlasting " (ad) and father" (avi) or "my father is witness." The prophet Isaiah uses the name Aviad as one of those belonging to the future Messiah.

In chapter 9 sentence 5 it says "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty G-d, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." This verse is fraught with deep meaning.

The eternity of G-d in heaven, the connection to family, continuity and eternity are all interpretations of the prophet's words.

In numerology, the name number is 1 which means individual, masculine, logic, assertive. Aviad is associated with other hebrew names that mention "father" such as Avidan, Avimlech, Avinadav, and Avinoam, (name number 22).

20 Dan

Dan was one of the members of the 12 tribes in the bible, and the fifth son of Jacob according to the Bible. This solid and amazing name means judge. Dan was named by his mother Rachel, one of the matriarchs who said "G-d has judged me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son."(Genesis 30:6).

When Jacob is dying he calls his his sons to his side and blesses them. "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel." (Genesis 49:16).

The verb Din which is the root of Dan means to judge or govern, and theologically means the idea of God's government among the people. The names associated with Dan are Daniel, Avidan, and the girl's name Dinah.

In the U.S. Dan is quite a common name, within the top 15% of popular names. Actor Dan Ackroyd, Dan Butler another actor, Dan Rather, journalist are examples. Some derivatives are Danny, Daniel, Danilo. In Hebrew it is pronounced DA-AN (like AH) and in English Dan, rhyming with ran.

19 Chana

Chana is the hebrew variant of Anna and means "grace." It is a name that flows off the tongue, and associated with the idea of composing beautiful prayers. The story of Chana in the Bible is a very famous one. She is the childless wife of Elkana who is also married to Peninah.

Peninah humiliates Chana who weeps and prays to G-d for a son, and then gives birth to Samuel the prophet, whom she dedicates to the service of G-d. The story of Chana is read in synagogue on Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

Chana was considered a prophetess who taught many lessons. She expressed herself in a whisper out of fear and piety. She was a role model for how to pray, and prophesized that her son Samuel would perform miracles and deliver the Israelites from the Philistine army.

Chana is very popular in the United States ranking 855 in popularity in 2015. It is usually pronounced as Hannah.

18 Esther

One of the bravest Jewish heroines, Esther saved the Jewish people in the Purim holiday story. The root of the name is "hester" which means "hidden" in hebrew and "star" in Persian. There was also a Near Eastern Goddess named Ishtar. Esther was a Jewish maiden who became Queen of Persia in the year 479 BCE.

When her husband Ahaseuerus granted the evil Haman his Prime Minister permission to kill the Jews, Esther interceded to prevent catastrophe. In her honor the feast of Purim is celebrated each year in the Spring.

In the book of Esther she is described as one who "obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked up her," in other words, a woman of great beauty.

Esther's name seems to conjure up the opposite of whom she became. "Modest," "Hidden" "humble" are all synonyms for the name Esther. But the work she did portrayed the exact opposite behavior for Esther became a public figure whose foresight changed the course of history. Esther "hid" her beauty at first, not wanting to be chosen by the King.

Esther used her capabilities of hiding and then becoming outgoing and fearless in conjunction with each other as the need arose in order to save her people.

17 Sarah

A royal name which means princess, or "lady of the multitude," Sarah was the first of the matriarchs, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac (Genesis 17:15). In the Bible, Sarah was first known as Sarai, and the fourth woman mentioned in the Bible. She and Abraham were the first monotheists and succeeding in finding many new believers in one G-d.

Sarah suffered many travails in her life. She was abducted by the Kings of Egypt and Philistine. So grieved was she by the fact that she could not have children that she allowed Hagar, her maidservant to become Abraham's second wife. Hagar became pregnant but also disrespectful of Sarah. She gives birth to Ishmael.

The story of Hagar and Ishmael's banishment to the desert and the promise by G-d that the child would father a great nation is one of the most famous Biblical tales.

When Sarah was 90 years old, and her husband Abraham 100, a child was finally born to them. Sara laughed when she heard she was pregnant. Their child was named Isaac which means "to laugh" in hebrew. It is said that as long as she was alive "a cloud of glory" hung over her tent and her house was full of blessings. She died at age 127 and was the first of seven prophetesses mentioned in the Bible.

In 2015 the most popular name Sarah ranked 58th in the USA and has been a top placer since name records began being kept in 1880.

16 Ariel

Not just the name of our favorite Little Mermaid, Ariel is of Hebrew origin and means "lion of G-d." It is used for both boys and girls in Israel and the U.S, but is more prominent as a boy's name. In the Bible, it is used as another name for the city of Jerusalem. One of the moons of Uranus is named Ariel, and Shakespeare named a spirit in his play "The Tempest" Ariel.

After the movie "The Little Mermaid" came out in 1989, popularity of the name soared. The name reached number 361 in 1991. Today it is number 598 for boys and 137 for girls. The feminine forms of the name are Ariella in English and Arielle in French.

Ariel conjures up strength and decisiveness. There is such a varied amount of uses for this name from all areas of life. There is an angel name Ariel in Judaism and Christianity. Ariel is also a fictional comic book character, a character from Robotech, and even was the name of a Beanie Baby.

Ariel is an American automobile, and Ariel 3, the first artificial satellite built in England. A Russian band and an Australian one are named Ariel and a number of songs have this name as their title as well.

15 Malka

Quite simply, Malka means queen in Hebrew, and pronounced in two syllables as Mal-kah. It is a sweet and valiant name, not a biblical one. Some derivatives are Malha, Malkiya, Milcah, and President Obama's daughter Maliah.

Malka most famously refers to the visit of the Queen of Sheba to the court of King Solomon in the Bible. "And she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came not more such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon." ( King 1 10:10)

In numerology, Malka has a value of 5 which means women with this name are dynamic and have unconventional personalities. They are very charismatic, certainly traits fit for a queen.

This is not an overly popular name, it currently sits at #3436. We think parents who want their daughter to stand out and be a free thinker will choose this name to help embolden their daughter to be a leader, a little queen if you will.

14 Rafi

Rafi or Raphi is the shortened version of the name "Raphael." It is a modern boy's hebrew name. It means "G-d has healed." It is pronounced RAA-Fiy. It can also be used in the Arabic language and is spelled Rafiq.

Rafael is an archangel of Judaism Christianity and Islam. In Judaism he is one of the seven archangels who bring prayers before G-d , and one of four angels who appear in works of Jewish mysticism. In the evening prayer he is mentioned with the three other angels.

The angel Raphael appears in Paradise Lost, the famous novel by John Milton. We all know that one of the Power Rangers (red) was Raphael, and Raphael was one of the most famous Italian painters of the Renaissance. The name was at number 537 in 2015.

We think paresnt will like the fact that this name id not only cool, but it's place on the popular name charts means that you'll have a monopoly on the name, and what parent doesn't want a a great name that other parents will envy? If you choose Rafi, you just might want to keep it to yourself.

13 Emmanuel

A wonderfully expressive boy's name meaning "G-d is with us." It can be spelled either Emmanuel or Immanuel. Pronounced ee-mAN-YOO-EL, it is a hebrew name in the book of Isaiah chapters 7 and 8. The name is used as part of a prophecy of G-d's protection from rival kings. It refers to the tribe of Judah (8:8). Tradition says that the Messiah will be named Emmanuel.

A few famous people with this name are Emmanuel Lewis, a famous American actor, Emmanuel Sanders, and American football wide receiver, Emmanuel Levinas, a French philosopher, and the fashion designer Emmanuel Ungaro, and Emmanuel Kant a German philopher.

Emmanuel is a very popular name and in 2015 was number 150 in the U.S. We think Emmanuel makes a great name for a boy who is a deep thinker and possesses a great and quiet intelligence.

Another great thing about this name is that you can personalize it by using only one 'M' and spell the name like Emanuel. A variant of the name is Immanuel, and as an added bonus, you can call your little guy Manny for a nick name.

12 Shoshana

This is interpreted to mean that despite the fact that a rose has thorns, it still always remains beautiful and red. So are those who are faithful in their beliefs.

In Jewish mysticism Shoshana has the same numeric value (661) as Esther, the hero of the Purim story. Remember Shoshanna Shapiro on the TV show "Girls?" There is also a clothing line named Shoshanna, and fashion designer Shohanna Lonstein. The English name Susan or Susanna is sometimes used in translation. A shortened use of the name is often Shoshi.

Shoshana is currently number 1842 in popularity in the US

11 Yael

A heroine in the bible, whose name means "deer."

Yael is sometimes called Jael. She is famous for killing Sisera, a general who was leading his people against Israel. At the time of the prophetess Deborah and the battle she led against Canaan and won, the defeated Sisera hid in the tent of his good friend Jabin. Jabin's wife was Yael who offered him milk and a place to rest.

When he fell asleep she drove a tent peg through his head with a hammer and he died. The Israelites were doubly victorious as they won the battle and their general was killed. Deborah had prophesied that although she would lead the troops in battle, it would be a woman who would kill the enemy general.

Yael's story is told in Judges 5;24-27.

We think Yael is not only a beautiful name, but it's a name you want to give your strong girl, something that will make her mature and steady as she grows.

10 Abigael

Pronounced Avi-ga-yil in hebrew, this lyrical name means "my father's joy." She was the wife of Nabal, who later became David's third wife. They had one son named Daniel. She is also listed as one of the seven Jewish women prophets. Nabal was a very rich man and she had high social standing, proven by the fact that she had five maidservants. (Samuel 1: 25:42).

Nabal had show ingratitude towards King David who wants to take revenge on him, and Abigael tried to calm the king. When Nabal dies, and David marries her, she is described in the Bible as one of the "four women of surpassing beauty in the world." She was also politically shrewd, intelligent and wealthy.

Abigael is such a popular name that in 2016 it is listed as #10. Famous Abigails were Abigail Adams, the wife of a President, and Abigail Van Buren, who was Dear Abby a columnist.

9 Ruth

One of the most famous Biblical characters and heroines, the name Ruth is derived from the hebrew word Reut which means friend. Famous for her devotion to her mother in law, Ruth is a lauded figure.

Ruth was a Moabite woman who married in to a hebrew family living in her country. Elimelech and Naomi were her in laws. Eventually Elimelech died along with his two sons. Naomi was left a widow with two widowed daughter in laws. Naomi decided to return to Judah, and told her daughter in laws to go back to their homes.

Ruth loved Naomi and couldn't leave her and they returned to Bethlehem. There Naomi married a landowner named Boaz and King David is said to have descended from her.

The name Ruth has been in the top 500 since 1880. In 2016 it was ranked 293.

8 Chava

Simply put, Chava means "living being," or "life." Chava (pronounced Cha-va) in English is Eve, the first woman in the Bible. There are two main concepts connected to the name Chavah. First, the name is a derivative of the hebrew word "chayah" which means living one. The idea of the name is that it embodies the idea of being the mother of all life, and everyone that came after her.

Therefore she is called "the mother of all life." (Genesis3:20). In the Bible it all says "She was called Chava because she nursed the whole world.

You might be surprised to hear that Chava has dramatically risen in popularity in the last 15 years. While you may not know any Chava's personally, your child just might in their lifetime meet a girl with this name.

Similar names you might also like include: Clara, Clementine, Kate, Leila, and Nora.

7 Yisrael

Pronounced Yis-Raw-ale, this is a very special name. Technically it means "Wrestles with G-d," and the story behind it is as captivating as its meaning.

Yisrael was originally named Jacob.(Yakov in Hebrew). In the Bible's Book of Genesis, two stories relate the tale of how Jacob's name was changed to Yisrael. The name Yakov has its roots in Akev, or heel. When twins Jacob and Esau were born, Yakov was holding on to his heel and would not let go.

In the Book of Genesis,(32) Jacob wrestles with an angel of G-d and requests a blessing. He does not let go until he is blessed and his name changed to Yisrael. His persistence in wrestling with the angel is rooted in his new name. Yisrael comes from "lisrod" in hebrew which means to strive. The descendants of Yisrael are called the People of Yisrael or in English, Yisrael.

6 Ezra

Ezra means "help." A popular name, in 2015 it ranked number 92 in the USA. Ezra was a Priest and a Scribe. In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Ezra describes how he led exiles of Judean descent back to their home in Jerusalem from Babylon. They had been exiled by the Babylonians in 586 BCE who destroyed their temple.

The scrolls and writings that had been in the temple were taken into Exile. Ezra was descended from a high priest living in Babylon and was sent by the King of Persia to teach the Laws of G-d to the people. Persia had conquered Babylon and was interested in rebuilding the Jewish temple for a second time.

Ezra was a highly respected leader and a scribe as well. but his task was not an easy one. However he not only succeeded in bringing exiles back to Jerusalem, but successfully rebuilt the city walls when he became governor. He worked on finishing to compile, edit and complete what we know as the Bible today.

He lived between the years of 480-440 BCE. As the new leader, he then read aloud the laws to the people. The Puritans adopted the name and it is popular among them as well. Ezra Pound was a famous poet.

5 Tzvi

The difficult to pronounce but beautiful name (Tz-vi) means gazelle, or deer in Hebrew. Other names recalling animals in hebrew are Aryeh (lion), for a boy and Ariella for a girl which means lioness. Ariel is also a lion. Dov is a bear, Yael a mountain goat. Ayal is a ram, and Ayala a deer as well.

The natural world is found in many names. Mayim means water, Keshet means rainbow, Barak which is lightning and the name of Deborah's general listed above. A name like Agam, which means lake may sound strange in english, but in hebrew it signifies the connection to the land. Who names their child "storm?"

In hebrew, Saar is a popular name. Yarden means Jordan, like the River in Israel. Ilan is a tree, Oren a pine tree, Alon an Oak tree and Tamir, a date palm tree.

The name Tzvi is associated with Naftali, one of the 12 tribes who in Genesis (49:21) who is compared to a swift deer.

4 Azarya

In deference and respect to their beliefs, Jews try to include the merits of God in their names. For instance Uziel means "God is my strength." He also was a grandson of Levi, one of the members of the twelve tribes. The similar sounding Uriel means "G-d is my light. " He was also a descendant of Levi and an angel.

The el at the end of these names denotes God, and there are many such others such as Yechiel or "G-d will live," Raphael- "G-d heals," Gavriel and Gavriella, boy and girls names respectively, both meaning "G-d is my strength." Adiel, and Aviad mean "G-d is my witness."

In Hebrew Azarya neans, "he whom God has helped." Couples who choose this name believe it will bring their child good luck or that the name will reflect their personality. While this name is not on the 100 popular names list, it is a great unique name that you might consider gifting your child with.

Azarya is the name of a wedding dress company owned by Sabrina Herft.

3 Daniel

In English we have gender neutral names like Mel, Alex, Avery, Peyton, which can all be used for boys or girls. In Hebrew there are many, some of them rather surprising. Yes, Daniel, which we would assume is for a boy is sometimes a girls name, often spelled Danielle, or the similar Daniella. It means "G-d has judged."

Names that are gender neutral and rhyme are Tal (dew), Gal (wave), Ori (my light) Lee (mine) and Gili (joy). Other fun names are Shai (gift) Maayan (spring), Amit (friend) Adi (ornament), Yuval (stream), Shachar (dawn), Shaked ( almond), Shai (gift), Neta (seedling), Dror (freedom) and Gefen (grapevine)

Some famous Daniels include Daniel Radcliffe who most kids know as Harry Potter, Daniel Craig we know as James Bond, and Daniel Day-Lewis who has had so many roles in his long film career.

We think this name has such longevity because it really is a great classic name. Parents can give their little one nick names like Danny and Dan. Apparently many other parents love this name too since it currently sits at #12 on the popular names list.

2 Eliyahu

Eliyahu was very angry with the King and Queen's wicked behavior and confronted them without fear. At the end of his life the story goes, he was taken by a chariot of fire and horses and lifted up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Many legends exist around Eliyahu, and it is believed that he will return to herald the coming of the Messiah. It is said that in times of distress, Eliyahu appears to save those who are suffering, sometimes dressed as a beggar, other times as a scholar. He has a very colorful and bold history. Sometimes he would appear in Talmudic literature to help solve legal problems.

If a decision was impossible to decide upon, the lawmakers said they would wait to decide "until Eliyahu comes." During the Jewish holiday of Passover, it is believed that Eliyahu comes to visit each home during the Seder, or holiday meal. When a child is circumcised, a chair is set aside for his presence.

1 Michael

Yes, Michael is really a Hebrew name pronounced Mi-cha-el. It means "Who is Like G-d?" This question is not meant to be answered, but is rhetorical in nature. in 2008 Michael was name #2 in the U.S. and in 2015 #9. In Hebrew tradition he is an archangel with the task is of defending the Jewish people.

The right side of a person's body is believed to be connected to mercy and kindness. It is said that Michael stays on our right side when we sleep to watch over us.

In the U.S. Michael is related to Mike, Mickey, Mitchell, and for girls, Michelle, Michaela. Michael has become popular in England and Ireland as well. In Spain it is translated into Miguel and in Russia as Mikhail. Michael is used as a surname as well in the form of Michaels, Carmichael, Mitchell and Michaelson.

Famous female actresses with the name are Michael Learned and Michael Michele. Mychal can be either male or female. Michael was ranked the most popular name of the 20th century.

Sources: Behind The Name, BabyNames, AISH

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