The Bible as (boys’) baby-naming guide



Jacob have I loved, but apparently not as much as we used to.

The most popular boys’ name in the United States for 14 consecutive years, Jacob was just displaced in the annual Social Security Administration ranking of popular names by another Genesis hero: Noah.

No doubt the eponymous film starring Russell Crowe helped Noah, which is Hebrew for “comfort,” rise from No. 4 in 2012 to No. 1 in 2013.  And any boy named Jacob, which ranked No. 3 this year, is still going to have to use his last initial to distinguish himself from the throng.

It’s not just Americans who like the Noah sound. Noa (a girls’ name) and the related Noam (for boys), were the most popular names for Israeli Jewish babies last year.

Other anglicized Hebrew names on the boys top 10 are Michael, Ethan and Daniel. For girls, Elizabeth (derived from Elisheva) and Abigail are the only top 10 names with Hebrew roots. And, despite Jacob’s long reign, the names of his wives — Rachel (No. 138 this year) and Leah (No. 33) — and indeed the names of all the women of Genesis have been far from the Top 10 list for some time. Leah’s best showing ever, in 2010, was No. 24, whereas Rachel peaked in 1996 at No. 9. (Thanks to NBC’s “Friends”?)

I’m as guilty in this matriarch neglect as my fellow Americans — after all, my younger daughter is named Sophia, which has been the No. 1 name for three years and on the top 10 list since 2006. (In my defense, the 2006 numbers weren’t released until after her birth that year.)

For more on biblical, Hebrew and other Jewish names, check out Kveller’s new Baby Name app — ironically, the promotional screen-shot image, which was selected before Noah’s new status as No. 1 name became known, features a page about, you guessed it, Noah.

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