Judah/Jude/Judith

Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “celebrated; praise.”

Judah is a Greek form of the Hebrew name, Yehuda יְהוּדָה, which is the name of several characters in the Old Testament and at least two figures in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the original Judah was said to be the fourth son of Leah and Jacob, the progenitor of the Judah tribe, and he is also traditionally believed to be a direct ancestor of Jesus. In Biblical Greek, Judah, Judas and Jude were all interchangeable, since in Greek, Yehudah was translated as Ioudas, but for convenience sake, especially in English, Judas is usually used to refer to the ex Apostle, Judas Iscariot, who is known for his betrayal of Christ, and due to these associations, this form of the name has extremely dubious connotations, especially among Christians. However, Jude is used in reference to another apostle, known as St. Jude Thaddeus, who is a very popular saint among Roman Catholics.

In Jewish circles, Judah is usually used in reference to the tribe, or in reference to Judah, the fourth son of Leah and Jacob. It is sometimes bestowed upon boys born around the festival of Hanukkah, which is used in honour of Judah Maccabeus, who is considered to be one of the greatest warriors in Jewish history. He was the son of Mattathias, a Cohen, and was known for his uprising against the Seleucid Empire in 167 BCE-160 BCE. The Jewish feast and holiday, known as Hanukkah, (Hebrew for “dedication”), commemorates the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem after Judah Maccabeus removed Pagan statuary from the Temple.

The name Jude has increased in popularity the last 10 years, as of 2008, he ranked in as the # 224th most popular male name in the United States.

Its feminine form of Judith, Hebrew יְהוּדִית Yehudit, was borne in the Old Testament by a wife of Esau, but is probably most closely associated with the protagonist found in the Book of Judith, which is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible. The book is rejected by Protestant Christians and Jews since it is mostly apocryphal and believed to be more of a morality tale versus anything based on historical fact, however, though the book is not considered historically accurate by Jews, Judith remained a popular Jewish heroine and symbol. In fact, the name’s popularity among Jews is probably more in association with her than of the wife of Esau. Judith is known for her beheading of the evil, Assyrian invader, Holofernes. She was a popular subject of artists for centuries.

The name experienced some usage in Catholic Europe during the Middle Ages, since Judith was considered as much a heroine among Christians as she was among Jews. The highest Judith ranked in the U.S. popularity charts, was at # 4 in 1940. As of 2008, she ranks in at a measly # 713. In 2006, she was the 6oth most popular female name in Spain.

Other forms of Judah and Jude include:

  • Chudas (Aragonese)
  • Judes (Catalan)
  • Judas (Danish/Dutch/German/Lithuanian/Norwegian/Portuguese/Spanish/Swedish: Portuguese ZHOO-dazh)
  • Jude (English/French)
  • Juudas (Finnish)
  • Juda (German/Czech/Croatian/Slovene)
  • Ioudas Ιουδας (Greek: Modern/Biblical)
  • Yehudah יְהוּדָה (Hebrew)
  • Júdás (Hungarian)
  • Yudas (Indonesian)
  • Iúdás (Irish)
  • Giuda (Italian)
  • Yuda (Kiswahili)
  • Iudas (Late Latin)
  • Juda/Judasz (Polish)
  • Júda (Slovakian)
  • Judá (Spanish/Portuguese: Spanish hoo-DAH, Portuguese zhoo-DAH)
  • Hudas (Tagalog/Filipino)
  • Yudel/Yidel (Yiddish)

Other forms of Judith include:

  • Ioudith Ιουδιθ (Biblical Greek)
  • Iudith (Biblical Latin)
  • Jitka (Czech: originally a diminutive form, now used as an independent given name YEET-kah).
  • Judita (Czech/Romansch/Slovak/Slovene)
  • Júdit (Czech)
  • Judit (Danish/Catalan/Hungarian/Norwegian/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Jytte (Danish)
  • Jutka (Dutch/Hungarian: originally diminutive forms, used as independent given names)
  • Juut (Dutch)
  • Judith (English/Dutch/Icelandic: English nickname is usually Judy)
  • Juudit/Juta (Estonian)
  • Judith/Judithe (French: diminutive is Juju)
  • Xudit (Galician)
  • Juditha (German: Jüdie is a diminutive form)
  • Jutta/Jutte (German/Dutch/Polish: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name, now considered dated)
  • Yehudit יְהוּדִית (Hebrew)
  • Yudit (Indonesian)
  • Giuditta (Italian: joo-DEET-tah)
  • Yuditi (Kiswahili)
  • Ita (Polish)
  • Judyta (Polish: yoo-DIH-tah)
  • Judite (Portuguese/Latvian: Portuguese pronunciation: zhoo-DEET, Brazilian Portuguese zhoo-JEE-che )
  • Juditta (Romansch)
  • Yudif/Yudita (Russian)
  • Judetta/Judina (Spanish)
  • Hudes (Yiddish)
  • Yutke (Yiddish)

Other notable bearers of the name include Judah Benjamin (1811-1884), former Attorney General of the Confederacy and the first Jewish American to be seriously considered for the Supreme Court and the first Jewish American to serve as a U.S. Senator. It is also borne by British actor, Jude Law (b.1972).

Notable Judiths include:

Judge Judith Scheindlin (b. 1942) an American judge, TV personality and author, and Judy Jetson of the 1950s cartoon series, The Jetsons.

Designated name-days are: October 28 (France: for Jude), May 5 (France: Judith), December 5th (Czech Republic), December 10 (Estonia, Hungary and Latvia).