Biblical names are important, and are intended to indicate what a person may stand for, or what he or she may do. John the Baptist translates as ‘the Lord is gracious’, Mark 1.4. John is designated as being “filled with the holy spirit even from birth,” Luke 1.15, also translated as ‘great in the eyes of the Lord’, which is scripturally taken as a sign of grace relative to John (see Nazarite John).
Consecrated a Nazarite at birth, Samuel later faced encroaching challenges by the Philistines. ‘Heard of God’ is his namesake. “in favor both with the Lord, and with men” (Sam. 2.26).
Hannah’s poetic song of joy at
the birth of Samuel:
“Talk no more so very proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
and by Him actions are weighed” (I Sm. 2.3).
Reminiscent of Mary’s song of joy;
Hannah’s name (Channa) means ‘favor’ or ‘grace’.
Samuel (child) with Hannah (mother)
The most notable example of proper naming is the naming of Jesus, or Yeshua, which means ‘Yahweh delivers’. Yeshua, in turn, derives from Joshua, Joshua meaning ‘Jehovah is salvation’. Matt. 11.1-3, John the Baptist had his disciples ask if Jesus was the Anointed One, the Christ, which indicate both names of Yeshua as Deliverer and Savior, as in meaning to “save his people from their sins.” We have ‘God is salvation’, or Joshua, followed by the completed act of ‘God delivers’, or Yeshua. The naming of Yeshua is given its full meaning with, Immanuel, “God with us,” which is written in Matt. 1.23. These three names, ‘God is salvation’, ‘God delivers’, and ‘God with us’ leads us to the fulness of Christ, or the Deliverer, or Messiah (Anointed One).
Deliver us from what, some may ask? At that time in history the Jews believed they would be delivered from the Romans. Previous to that it was the Greeks. In between, Jews fought the religious civil war of Pharisee verses Sadducee. But it seems clear Yeshua was sent to deliver the Jews from themselves, and as it turns out this includes the laws which limited and bound them. It is Yeshua who brings us teachings intended to set us free. Conversion may initiate the process, but enlightenment into the spirit of God completes the journey.
The teachings of the Way illustrate that obedience to law is a good thing, but of itself the law does not set you free. The law may also be brought unfairly against you. The law comes to indict, and of its nature can never hold the key to freedom. The laws become rules you inevitably break at least some of the time, and thus justice wanders from person to person never finding an abode to rest. Jesus enlightens us into a whole new presence or standing with God, or ‘God with us’. Thus, the breaking of the law which is equated with sin, as the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes believed, becomes removed as the final arbiter of our relationship with God. In the final teaching of the Way, grace stands above the law, and mercy shall be applied before punishment imposed. Forgiveness becomes paramount, as the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant points toward (Mt. 18.23-27). Yeshua embodies this saving grace, remaining at one with the Father, delivering us from the law.
The power in the name Jesus, or Yeshua, is derived as the letter Shin (feminine) is added to Joshua. Holy Shekinah, the root of which is Shin, or Holy Spirit, these very similar terms represent divine presence and power, with the name Yeshua implying an embodiment of this presence and power. Yeshua is masculine and feminine. Holy Shekinah more specifically points to awakening, or one who has awakened to God within, or the kingdom within. Using the name Yeshua thus conveys authority (God-being within) and power (God-being expressed) through invoking his name. The use of Jesus (taken from the Greek) as Yeshua’s name is also an appropriate useage according to most theologians.
Throughout the written work of the Hebrews, as well as in the oral tradition, the provision is to not speak the name of God, YHWH, else you might invoke His name improperly, after vanities or personal desires which have no spiritual basis. Instead, the biblical name “Adonai” (Lord) was most frequently used. By contrast, in the ancient world pagans believed they could affect the gods by various sorceries, by incantation, secret chants, or making an image of the god they appealed to. The presumptive behavior of pagan worship to name a god in order for control puts man in the godlike position, for by these means men assume authority over their gods, pursuing a satanic urge. As all of the ancient gods were open to man’s dictates through the magic arts, YHWH would not allow Himself to be put in such a class. By pronouncing the first commandments* He separates Himself from all other gods. In doing so the lesson of authority within naming, and the order of events, becomes illustrated once again. “I am who I am” (Ex. 3.14), also reserves God as the first order of all events.
*Ex. 20.1-7, ” (1) I am the Lord your God. (2) You are to have no other gods before me.”
If a man may not put another god before YHWH, then he may also not put himself before Him, nor rename YHWH into a pantheon and thus diminish Him, nor take command over Him. By contrast, pagan people became bound up in their gods by this misdirected use of words, the chants, the incantations (see Enosh). The Pagan gods required sacrifice, sometimes human sacrifice. Those religions that require human sacrifice are no more than bloodied death cults, regardless of how they may present specific religious tenets or broad based doctrine. The commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” orders the hierarchy, as Yahweh is the One True God. Of itself this commandment destroys all previous religions.
The naming of the Father by Jesus as ‘Abba’, actually translates as Dad or ‘Daddy’. Jesus relates to God so closely and so familiarly, so tender and so dear, that he calls him Daddy. As Jesus prays in Gethsemane he might as well have prayed, “Dad, what do you want me to do? I’m not sure what is to happen next, and I need guidance.” Such a close relationship, such a personal reference to call Him, Daddy, this also relates just how close our Father really is to us.
Another name, Nimrod the Mighty Hunter, is a biblical figure not well understood. He was a mighty hunter alright, a mighty hunter of souls, and for this reason he is despised throughout scripture. His biblical name is identified with Cain (see Cain & Abel). “He [Nimrod] gradually turned the government into a tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear [reverence] of God, but to bring them into constant dependence upon his power,” Josephus, Ant. 1.4.2. Essentially, Nimrod is proposing the first public works program. And they said, “Come, let us build a city, and a tower with its top to the sky, and make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world,” Gn. 11.4.
Moon god Nanna visiting his ziggurat, c. 3100 BC
Early ziggurat, c. 4150-5100 BC
In the midst of Nimrod’s building program the people were renaming themselves as outside of God and as the ‘earthly powerful’, not the spiritually powerful, and continued to push forward by demonstrating their own earthly power. “We don’t need God. Look what we can do,” they may as well have said. The core of such speech is unrighteous. Nimrod encouraged defiance to God and then to garner the envy of other men, and it is under this influence the people followed. They were trying to outwit God* and impose their own will, thus usurping power for themselves. In removing God’s word from them they wished to make a name for themselves. After their own imaginations they entered into a kind of unreality. They undertook the building of the ziggurat in their own name, and to attribute self, not God.
*They built the ziggurat to escape another flood should it be sent again by God.
Obviously the people thought they would become unified by such a commitment. To illustrate the folly of such thinking the Bible shows how they fell into arguing, such that one could not understand the reasoning (the tongue) of another. It is also true that those of the city had come from diverse groups, much as we see in cities today. Undertaken without God such a project has no intrinsic power to unify, which by the way is one of the problems with communism and is why the Soviet Union failed.
Intellectualism may have agreement, but of a nature does not necessarily unify. Instead of operating in the graceful of the spirit, too often intellectualism pushes and ‘forces the ground’ (see Cain and Abel). In the same manner, we do not pursue in our own name, our own righteousness, we instead pursue the spirit of God. It is then His righteousness fills us, much as we see in the righteous Abel. The enlightened teaching of the Way first proscribes obeisance to the godly authority. It is from godly authority that all other authorities must then derive.
Nimrod’s heritage is very suspect, being the grandson of Ham; Ham being the son who profaned his father, Noah. Nimrod is the son of Cush, usually described as Ethiopian, or southern Sudan. However, Nimrod appears in the Hebrew Bible as as the king of Shinar, and ruled over much of Mesopotamia. “…they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar” (Gn. 11.2). “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar,” Genesis 10.10. He gained ascendancy by conquering (see Cain VI), but not by heritage, and was not a rightful king.
Due to his unrighteous assumption of power he always feared Shem and the sons of Shem (Gn. 10.21-32). It is Shem’s lineage through Terah that Abram (Abraham) becomes born. Forced to leave Ur in large part due to Abraham’s belief in one almighty god, and the trouble this caused the family, Terah and his family settle in Haran. This one-god belief on the part of Abraham also explains why generations later the four kings from the north (Gn. 14.5-7) raided extensively in territories around Sodom, Gomorrah and Zoar, Zeboiim and Admah (Gn. 14.1-2) before they attacked these city-kingdoms to exact unpaid tribute. Even years later the kingly descendants of Nimrod were looking to eradicate the most notable figure in the family of Shem, Abraham. When they could not find him they were glad to take Lot as a captive.* Nimrod is described as sly and deceitful, and because he is descendant from Ham, cursed by Noah as a family of “servant of servants” (Gn. 9.25-27).
*Klinghoffer gives a fine account of these raids and the recovery of Lot. The Discovery of God, chap. six. New York. Doubleday, Three Leaves Press. 2002, print. Also, Chabad. org, Nimrod/Abraham.
Many pastors and priests have employed the authority to name. They give blessing, they heal hurt and bind the wounds of the heart. They provide succor to those in need, they pronounce forgiveness in the name of Yeshua the Messiah. The precious gift through naming delivers authority, expressing properly the positive, and not be abused.