Generally speaking, names have far greater significance particularly in ancient Jewish history and some cultures, compared with postmodern Britain. Exploring the meaning of the names of biblical characters and how that relates to unlocking theological truths is a fascinating exercise and has value. Here is a snapshot survey of some key persons mentioned in scripture, inclusive of related themes and culminating with Yeshua the Messiah, the name above all names.
The Family of Adam
Some words in Hebrew and Greek are almost impossible to describe sufficiently in a single English word. That is why the Amplified Version is so useful for Bible study. The name Adam means ‘Red earth, dust, clay and man’. ‘Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all the living’ (Genesis. 3:20). The Bible teaches that Adam was the first representative of the human race, formed from the dust and that the Lord Jesus is the Second Man and the Last Adam and that as a result of Adam’s sin, sin entered the world and death spread to all men, yet through the Second Man, grace abounded to many (1 Corinthians. 15:45-49; Romans. 5:12-15).
Concerning the family of Adam, listed in Genesis 5, note how the corresponding explanations of the names follow on down to Noah, outlining the gospel message. This is not only of great interest for bible study but directs the reader to marvel at God’s providential inspiration of Scripture and the good news of Messiah.
Mahalel= The blessed God
Jared= shall descend
Methuselah= his death shall bring
Lamech= the despairing
Or, Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the blessed God shall descend teaching, His death shall bring the despairing rest.[i]