What’s in a name

Recently I was thinking about all of those lists in the Bible of guys with strange sounding names who begat so-and-so, or who leading this or that tribe of Israel. My wife and I began an endeavour a few years ago to read a few chapters of Scripture every morning, starting in Genesis and moving forward. The most difficult to plough through were Leviticus and Numbers because of all the very specific instructions regarding the nation and the tabernacle and because of all the very foreign lists of names.


Names on a list may seem dull, but they tell a story and if you’re clued in to what the writer is getting at then it means so much more.


If I threw out some names like:

  • Brian Clark
  • Stanley Pramnaith
  • Rick Rescorla,

You might know that this is a partial list of some of the men working in the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Stanley and Brain made it out and have been friends ever since. Unfortunately Rick Rescorla did not. Rick was a security consultant for one of the firms in the north tower and opted not to evacuate himself but stayed to help others get out.


Rick is on another list that I know of:

  • Rick Rescorla
  • Jack Geoghegan
  • Willie Golboldt
  • Hal Moore,

This is a partial list of just 4 names from two companies from the 7th Cavalry who fought elements of the North Vietnamese Army near the Ia Drang in November 1965. By happenstance Rick Rescorla witnessed 2 historic days for America. As a security consultant Rick was convinced that the World Trade Center would again be a terror target after the 1993 bombing and unfortunately he was correct.


Hal Moore was commander of the 7th Cavalry. His name is on a list with other commanders of that famous unit, most notably George Armstrong Custer who foolishly led his regiment to slaughter.


Jack Geoghegan and Willie Godboldt’s names are side by side on the Vietnam War memorial in Washington D.C. Jack was fatally shot while trying to save the life of Willie Godboldt who himself was shot.


My beloved Sharks have just arrived in New Zealand and fans were presented with some of the following names:


  • Chiliboy Ralepelle
  • Coenie Oosthuizen
  • Etienne Oosthuizen
  • Jean-Luc du Preez
  • Philip van der Walt
  • Keegan Daniel
  • Tendai Mtawarira
  • Odwa Ndungane

I can tell you some things about these guys. Chiliboy made his return to rugby after a 2 year ban for taking a banned substance. The Sharks gave him a second chance and he is rocking it. Coenie and Etienne, both Oosthuizens aren’t related. As an Ozzie commentator once remarked, Coenie ‘know’s his way around a braai’, which is to say that he’s a strong lad. Etienne is a young man that travelled to Brumbies land only to follow his coach Jake White back to the Sharks, and whereas he seemed to be out of place I consider him an excellent lock. Jean-Luc du Preez hails from a rugby family that’s like the sporting version of the Ewings – a Springbok for a dad, and two brothers of high rugby standard. Some Star Trek fandom may have been involved in his naming. Philip van der Walt is a top bloke, a talented and robust 8th man who speaks fluent Xhosa and is as Christian as they come. Keegan Daniel plays for the Sharks for a salary but also for love and passion. No more committed man on the field than Keegan. Beast Mtawarira hails from Zimbabwe and Ian Mac turned him into a prop, one of the best in the land. Odwa Ndungane who had a twin brother playing for the Bulls, his uncle was the Archbishop of Cape Town. Odwa has been around for so long but he always seems to have that last little bit of game time in his legs.


In the Old Testament when establishing a spiritual dynasty and a nation God called a family and worked in the lives of the children and grandchildren:


  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob


Abraham was chosen by God to leave his home country and travel to Canaan which would later be the Promised Land. Isaac was a wheeler and a dealer however God used Isaac’s weaknesses as well as his strengths to work his purposes. Jacob was renamed Israel, a man who struggled with God and serves as a model for the sometimes tempestuous relationship that his descendants have with God. God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are together as part of His working spanning three generations.


Speaking of those lists in Numbers and the lineage of Jacob, I came across chapter 26 which details the rebellion of Korah. The first-born son of Jacob was Reuben who had four sons:

  • Hanoch
  • Pallu
  • Hezron
  • Carmi


Pallu sounds like that guy who plays for the Waratahs, but its obviously not the same guy. Pallu had a son, Eliab, who himself had three sons:


  • Nemuel
  • Dathan
  • Abiram


Numbers chapter 16 chronicles the rebellion of Korah who rebelled against Moses with the help of Dathan and Abiram. Reuben had to forfeit the honour of the firstborn son to Judah and even in that day, Dathan and Abiram were still sore about that. Long story short, Korah and those who rebelled against Moses and Aaron were swallowed by the earth.


But in his mercy God did not let the line of Korah die out. Eleven of the psalms were written by the sons of Korah, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Do you see how interesting this stuff is? Names on lists have stories behind them, they have meaning.


In the time when the gospel of Matthew was being written it cannot be argued but that Israel was a patriarchal society. In the list of the genealogy of Jesus the messiah, the Holy Spirit saw to it that the names of several women were included:


  • Rahab
  • Ruth
  • Tamar
  • Uriah’s wife
  • Mary, of whom was born Jesus


I don’t know about you, but to me that’s pretty cool.


God has a list of names and he knows those that belong to him. Isn’t it awesome when we know that he knows us?

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