Sometimes very specialized names, directly related to circumstances of the parents, were given to children. The prophet Isaiah was directed to name one of his children Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning “speed the spoil, hasten the prey”. This name was an allusion to the certain Assyrian invasion of the Nation of Judah (Isa. 8:3-4). Hosea was instructed to name a daughter, Lo-Ruhamah, “no mercy”, and a son, Lo-Ammi, “not my people”. Both of these names referred to God displeasure with his people (Hos. 1:6-9).
This entire definition is coming from Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary. I was searching for the answers as to why Pharoah Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim when they have similarities in the meaning. This is the explanation that I found concerning names.
A name is a label or designation that sets 1 person apart from another. But in the Bible, a name is much more than identifier, as it tends to be in our culture.
Personal names and even place names were formed from words that had their own meaning. The people of the Bible were very conscious of the meaning of names.
They believed there was a vital connection between the name and the person it identified. A name somehow represented the nature of the person.
This means that the naming of a baby was very important in the Bible. In choosing a name, the parents could reflect the circumstances of the child’s birth, their own feelings, their gratitude to God, their hopes and prayers for the child, and their commitment of the child to God.
The name Isaac reflected the “laughter” of his mother at his birth (Genesis 21:6). Esau was named “hairy” because of his appearance. Jacob was named “supplanter” because he grasped his brother’s Esau’s heel (Genesis 25:25-26). Moses receive his name because he was ‘drawn out” of the water (Ex. 2:10).
A popular custom of biblical times was to compose names by using the shortened forms of the divine name El or Ya (Je) as the beginning or ending syllable. Examples of this practice are Elisha which means “God is salvation”; Daniel, “God is my judge”; Jehoiakim, “the Lord has established”; and Isaiah, “the Lord is salvation”.
The change of the name can also be of great importance in the Bible. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham in connection with his new calling to be “a father of many nations” (Gen. 17-5).
God gave Jacob the new name Israel, “God strives” because he “struggled with God and with men and prevailed” (Genesis 32:28; 35:10).
In the giving or taking of new names, often a crucial turning point in the person’s life has been reached. Simon was given a name Peter because, as the first confessing apostle, he was the “rock” upon which the new community of the church would be built (Matt. 16:18).
Saul was renamed Paul, a Greek name that was appropriate for one who was destined to become the great apostle to the Gentiles.
The connection between a name and the reality it signified is nowhere more important than in the names referring to God. The personal name of God was revealed to Moses in the burning bush – I am Who I am – conveyed something of His character (Exodus 3:14).
According to Exodus 34:5-6, when the Lord proclaimed “the name of the Lord” He added words that describe His character. The name of the Lord was virtually synonymous with his presence: “For your wondrous works declare that your name is near,” (Ps. 75:1). To know the name of God is to know God Himself (Psalms 91:14).
For this reason, to “take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7) is to act in any way that is inconsistent with the profession that He is the Lord God.
The New Testament writers also emphasized the importance of names and the close relationship between names and what they mean.
A striking illustration of this is Acts 4:12, “For there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved”. In this instance, the name is again practically interchangeable with the reality which it represents.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Hallowed be your name” (Matt 6:9). Christians were described by the Apostle Paul as those who “name the name of the Lord” (2 Tim 2:19).
A true understanding of the exalted Jesus is often connected with a statement about his name. Thus Jesus “has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name then the angels” (Heb. 1:4). According to Paul, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9).