Erez

  • Origin: Hebrew אֶרֶז
  • Meaning: “cedar.”
  • Gender: masculine
  • Pronunciation: ER-ehz

The name comes directly from the Hebrew word for the cedar tree אֶרֶז. This name did not come into use as a masculine given-name among Jews until after the creation of the State of Israel in 1945. It may have been popularized by Aleksander Zederbaum (1816-1893), a Polish-Jewish journalist who founded the Hebrew language newspaper, Ha-Melitz who often used “Erez” as a pseudonym in his writings.

It is also the name of a Kibbutz and of Erez Crossing, the latter being the name of a border crossing on the Israeli-Gaza border.

Sources

Katriel

  • Origin: Hebrew כתריאל
  • Meaning: “God is my crown.”
  • Gender: Masculine

The name is a Medieval Ashkenazi creation, composed of the Hebrew words keter (כֶּתֶר) “crown” and el (אֵל) “god.” It may have been a masculinized form of the popular Yiddish female name Kreindel (crown) or the Hebrew female name Atarah (crown).

  • Kadriel
  • Kasriel
  • Katsriel
  • Katzriel

There are the modern Israeli feminized forms of Katrielle, Katriella & Katriela.

A notable bearer was Israeli ambassador to the Soviet Union, Katriel Katz (1908-1988).

Sources

Bezalel

  • Origin: Hebrew בְּצַלְאֵל
  • Meaning: “in the shadow of God; under the protection of God.”
  • Gender: masculine
  • Pronunciation Eng: beh-ZAH-lel

The name is borne in Exodus 31:1-6 by the chief artisan assigned by Moses to build the Tabernacle, Ark of the Covenant, priests’ vestments and other equipment with the assistance of Aholiab. In Exodus 31:1, he is listed as the son of Uri.

The name itself is believed to share a similar etymological construction with the Akkadian male names ina-ṣilli-Bēl and ina-ṣilli-Nabu (in the shadow of Baal or Nabu).

The name has always been used in the Jewish diaspora in Europe and the Middle East. It was borne by the 16th-century Ottoman rabbi and talmudist Bezalel Ashkenazi, and it was the name of the father of the Maharal of Prague,(Judah Loew ben Bezalel circ. 17th-century).

The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design & the Jewish art movement known as the Bezalel School both take their name from the character in the Bible.

Among Russian-Jews, Vasily would have been used as a Russified form, though the names do not share an etymological relationship.

Other forms include:

  • Bezaleël (Dutch)
  • Bezalel (English, German)
  • Béséléel (French)
  • Beseleel Βεσελεήλ (Greek)
  • Bezaleèl (Italian)
  • Becalel (Polish)
  • Besaliel (Portuguese)
  • Veseleíl Веселеи́л (Russian)
  • Becalél’, Becal’ї́l Бецале́ль, Бецал’ї́л (Ukrainian)

Sources

Cassiel

  • Origin: Hebrew פצִיאֵל
  • Meaning: “God is my cover; cover of God; speed of God.”
  • Gender: masculine
  • Pronunciation: Eng KAS-see-el

The name is derived from the Hebrew פצִיאֵל (Qaftzi’el), which is likely to mean “cover of God” or “God is my cover.” Other sources claim this name means “speed of God.” According to Judeo-Christian apocrypha, Cassiel is one of the 7 archangels. In the Hekhalot Rabbati, he is the one of the guardians of the doors of the 7th Heaven. In the Sefer Raziel, he is described as the Prince of Saturn, while in the Zohar, he is credited as being one of the aides of the Archangel Gabriel. He is also mentioned in the rabbinic literature of the Kabbalah. In Christian literature, he is mentioned in the grimoire known as The Sworn Book of Honorius as well as in Peter Abano’s Heptameron. He is mentioned in a Byzantine text regarding exorcism. He also appears as an archangel in mystic Islamic literature under the name كسفيائيل‎, Kasfiyāʼil.

Cassiel was traditionally believed to not have much input on the things that occur in the world of man, he was also considered the angel who presided over the death of kings as well as the angel of tears and the angel of temperance. His days are sometimes Thursday or Friday.

As a given-name, it has only come into occasional use the last century. It may have become even more widespread after its use in the Wim Wender 1987 film, Wings of Desire.

I could not find any strong evidence that this name has ever been used as a given-name among Jews or Muslims, though I don’t believe it is considered a forbidden name in either religion, more likely, the obscurity of the angel in the general populace of both religions has left the name obsolete.

Other forms include: Cafziel, Kafziel, Caphziel,Captiel, Cassael, Castiel, Qaspiel, Qephetzial, & Quaphsiel.

Forms in other languages include:

  • Kasfiyāʼil كسفيائيل‎, (Arabic)
  • Cassiël (Dutch)
  • Cassiel (English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Qaftzi’el קפציאל‎ (Hebrew)

Feminine forms include: Kasiela, Casiel(l)a, Qaftiziela (modern Hebrew); Cassielle (English, French), Cassiëlle (Dutch), Casiele (Brazilian-Portuguese).

Sources

Lieba, Liba, Lieber

Liba can have a few meanings, it is firstly a polonized form of the Yiddish ליבאַ Lieba (love), which is identical to the German word. It may have also been influenced by the Czech word libý (nice; pleasant). It was popular among Eastern-European Jews as it also coincided with the Czech-Slovak name Líba, which is a contracted form of names like Libuše & Liběna.

Also sometimes spelled Liebe.

It was sometimes anglicized by Jewish immigrants to Leeba.

A Yiddish masculine form is Liber or Lieber.

In Latvia, the designated name-day is April 19, though in this case, it is probably a borrowing from the Czech & Slovak use.

Sources

Nava

  • Origin: Hebrew נָאוָה
  • Meaning: “pretty; pleasant; desirable; enticing.”
  • Gender: feminine
  • NAH-vah

The name comes directly from the Hebrew adjective meaning “pretty; pleasant,” and a Hebrew verb meaning “to want; to desire.”

It may be a direct translation of the traditional Ashkenazi name Shayna or the Mizrahi/Sephardi name, Jamila. However, the word has more of the meaning of someone who is “enticing” or “alluring” vs just “beautiful” as other sites have translated.

The term is found in the Song of Songs 2:14, but was not used as a given-name until after the creation of the modern state of Israel.

Sources

Adonis, Adonija, Adonise

Adonis is borne in Greek mythology by the god of beauty and desire. According to the most popular myth, he was born of the incestuous union of Theias and his daughter Myrrha. Myrrha had tricked her own father into having sex with her. The gods transformed Myrrha into a myrrh tree after Theias attempted to kill her whilst pregnant with Adonis. Adonis was beloved of Aphrodite and mothered by Persephone, but he was subsequently killed by a boar when Artemis, or in some versions, Ares, sent a boar to kill Adonis out of jealousy. When Adonis died, Aphrodite cried tears which mingled with Adonis’ blood, producing the Anemone flower. Aphrodite instituted the Adonia festival in his commemoration, whereby all women had a mass mock funeral of Adonis by growing plants in potsherds on their rooftops and performing a mass funeral ritual as soon as the plants sprouted.

It is likely Adonis was imported by the Greeks from the Phoenicians, the latter being the descendants of the Sumerians, Mesopotamians & Babylonians. It is believed by most scholars that Adonis is an adaptation of the Sumerian story of Dumuzid & Inanna (later Tammuz & Ishtar), in which a ritual funeral rite was also performed by women across the former Babylonian empire. Adonis itself is a Hellenized form of the Canaanite, adon, which means “lord” and was often used as an appellation by the Canaanites for the god Tammuz. The Jews adopted this appellation for Yahweh in the form of Adonai (my lord).

Adonis is borne by an 8th-century French saint of Vienne. He is also listed as Adon & Ado. Adonis has sporadically been used as a given-name in Greece, anglophone, francophone & hispanophone countries. The French feminine off-shoots, though rare these days, are Adonise (AH-do-NEEZ) and Adonie, and were actually prevalent in 18th-centurry Quebec & New Orleans. An obscure Italian feminine form is Adonella.

There is the male Biblical Hebrew name, Adonijah meaning (my lord is Yahweh). It is borne by a son of King David and was Hellenized in the Septuagint as Adonias.

Other forms include:

  • Adonies (Catalan)
  • Adonia (Dutch, Italian, Swedish)
  • Adonija Адония (French, German, Russian)
  • Adonias Αδωνίας (French, Greek, Portuguese)
  • Adonías (Galician)
  • Adonja (Norwegian)
  • Adoniasz (Polish)
  • Adonías (Spanish)
  • Adoniya Адонія (Ukrainian)

Currently, Adonis is the 242nd most popular male name in the United States and the 461st most popular in France.

Other forms include:

  • Adonisi ადონისი (Albanian, Georgian)
  • Adonis Адонис Адоніс Άδωνις Ադոնիս (Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, Macedonian, German, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish)
  • Adónis Адо́ніс (Belarusian, Continental-Portuguese, Czech, Slovak)
  • Adó (Catalan)
  • Adónisz (Hungarian)
  • Adone, Adon (Italian)
  • Adônis (Brazilian-Portuguese)
  • Adón (Spanish)

Sources

Eliel

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: “my God is God.”
  • Gender: Masculine
  • Pronunciation: Eng (EL-ee-yel; ee-LYE-yel)

The name is composed of the same Hebrew word אל (‘el) meaning “God,” hence, some translate it to mean “my God is God.” The name is borne by several minor characters in the Old Testament.

A notable bearer was Finnish Architect, Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950).

Though an obscure Jewish name, it experienced a peak in popularity in Finland and other Scandinavian countries at the end of the 19th-century.

Eliel recently entered the U.S. Top 1000 Most Popular Male Names in 2019, currently ranking in at #664.

The designated name day in Finland is April 9th

A Dutch form is Eliël.

Sources

Nir, Nira

meadow-small.jpg.1145x0_q71_crop-scale

  • Origin: Hebrew נִיר נירה
  • Meaning: “meadow; grazing area; first born son.”
  • (NEER, NEE-rah)

Nir is a masculine Hebrew name נְיָר meaning (meadow; grazing area). Alternately, it can be an acronym of the Hebrew phrase noled yeled rishon (meaning “first born son”).

Its feminine form is Nira.

Nira appeared in the U.S. top 1000 most popular female names one time in 1933, ranking in at #463.

Sources

Zuleika, Zuleikha

800px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_065


  • Origin/Meaning: unknown زُلَيْخا זוליכה‎
  • Gender: female
  • (zoo-LAY-kah)
  • Usage: Arabic, Armenian, English, German, Italian, Ladino, Persian, Portuguese – Brazilian, Spanish

The name is of uncertain origin or meaning, since it appears in Muslim and Medieval Jewish tradition as the name of the wife of Potiphar (who is unnamed in the Old Testament), it is often suspected to be of Coptic origin, though the name is not traditionally used among contemporary Copts.

The wife of Potiphar is mentioned in the Bible as trying to seduce Joseph and later falsely claiming he tried to rape her, which leads to Joseph’s unjust imprisonment. In Medieval Islamic tradition, the story was reinterpreted as a popular love story, the subject of much poetry, she is named Zuleikha and her love for Joseph was interpreted by Sufi poets, especially Rumi and Hafez, to represent the longing the soul has for God. Zuleika is also attributed to be her name in the Sefer haYashar, also known as the Book of Jasher, a Jewish midrash of unknown authorship.

In the English-speaking world, the name first came into use in the early 19th-century, it was most likely popularized by Byron’s 1813 poem, The Bride of Abydos, in which it is the name of the heroine. It was also used by the German poet Goethe for his 1810 poem entitled, Book of Zuleika, in his collection of Eastern inspired poems called West–östlicher Divan. It is the name of the eponymous character in the 1911 novel, Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohn, which was later adapted into a musical.

The name is also used in Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil.


Other forms include:

  • Zulejka (Albanian, Bosnian)
  • Züleyxa (Azeri)
  • Zuleica (Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Zulejha, Zulejka Зуле́йха, Зулейка (Chechen, Russian)
  • Zelikah (Dutch)
  • Zouleïkha (French)
  • Züleyha (Turkish)
  • Zulayho (Uzbek)

Other Arabic transliterations include: Zulaykha and Zulekha.

Spanish diminutives include: Zula & Zuzu.


Sources