How to Understand Biblical Names

word studies help us understand biblical names

Word studies are the best way to show us how to understand Biblical names. For each name we share on Rather Than Great Riches, we’ll find information underneath each name that explain the significance of it’s meaning. We will post as much information as is relevant to help us learn about and consider a name. However, each study is not exhaustive as many of the names shared could have volumes written about them!

As with all ancient languages, there may not be insights into each of the categories we hope to address. When this happens, we will simply say “unknown”.

Here is an explanation of each category we will address when posting a biblical baby name:

Original Language: 

This is the ancient Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic (or rarely Latin) word that stands behind the modern English name used today. These original language words are transliterated using the English alphabet, instead of the alphabets of the original languages.

For example, we will share the name “Lev” in the beginning of the post, then also share the Hebrew spelling of “לב for those who may be curious as to what the originally spelling looks like!

Range of Meanings: 

This section explains the possible meanings of the name in its original language. It can also be called the “semantic domain”. Most words have a range of possible meanings, allowing it to be used to convey different thoughts depending on the context in which they are used.

For example, the English noun “key” has several possible meanings. It may refer to a small piece of metal used to open a lock, a button on a panel used to operate a computer, or a group of musical notes. Ancient languages worked much the same way, using words for a range of meaning, especially in those languages with less words available to use. Biblical Hebrew somewhere around 8000 words, while modern English has 600,000 or more!


Occasionally, we find that a single word or name contributes to a larger, overarching idea. One good example of this is how the general concept of “light” may be described to us using more specifically as “shine,” “dawn,” “radiance,” “flash,” “lamp,” or “glow.” It’s interesting to consider the meaning of specific names or words by looking at the concept they are alongside.

References or Context:

Finally, this area is where we will list of relevant scripture passages that provide examples or descriptions of how the name or word has been used historically. Context tells us the historical setting or writings in which a name or word has been used in its original language and may include an ancient story or biblical event in which it has been used.

We hope you love studying biblical words as much as we do and feel better equipped on how to understand biblical names and words!


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