New name, new relationship
Abram and Sarai
Abram = exalted father Abraham = father of multitudes Sarai = princess Sarah = mother of nations, noblewoman Source(s): Gen. 11 & 17
- The original and proper form of this name seems to be either "Abram" or "Abiram" (I Kings, xvi. 34; Deut. xi. 6), with the meaning, "my Father [or my God] is exalted." The form "Abraham" yields no sense in Hebrew, and is probably only a graphic variation of "Abram," the h being simply a letter, indicating a preceding vowel, a; but popular tradition explains it "father of a multitude" (ab hamon), given as a new name on the occasion of a turning-point in the patriarch's career (Gen. xvii. 5). The name is personal, not tribal; it appears as a personal name in Babylonia in the time of Apil-Sin (about 2320 B.C.; Meissner, "Beiträge zum Altbabylonischen Privatrecht," No. 111), and is not employed in the Old Testament in an ethnical sense (for example, it is not so employed in Micah, vii. 20, nor in Isa. xli. 8).
- The two forms of the name, "Sarah" and "Sarai," are identical in meaning; it is difficult to understand the reason for the change. "Sarai" is probably the more archaic form of "Sarah," though the termination "ai" is unusual in the feminine. The writer of Gen. xvii. 15 must have considered the "ah" of "Sarah" as implying in some way "yahu" or "yah" (the "Yhwh" element). Accordingly, the change would be similar to that of "Joshua" to "Jehoshua." Perhaps it was the intention to read the name "Sarayahu," the "hu" being added to "Sarai." In that case the meaning "princess" now given to "Sarah" must be abandoned. The element "sarah" is identical with a part of the name "Israel," and "Sarah" and "Sarai" are appropriate names for Israel's mother (Isa. li. 2; comp. Robertson Smith, "Kinship and Marriage," p. 30; for the forms see Olshausen, "Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Sprache," § 110; Nöldeke, in "Z. D M. G." 1886, p. 183; 1888, p. 484; König, "Historisch-Kritisches Lehrgebäude," II. i. 427). The name "Sa-ra-a" is reported to occur in Babylonian tablets (Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl." iv. 4285, note 3).
Jacob / Israel
Revelation of the Divine Name
Moses at the Burning Bush
"Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain."
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The Holy Name of Jesus
Saul / Paul