Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Meaning of My Name
A couple days ago I got curious about the meaning of my name after doing a bit of reading on numerology, astrology and the like. As many of you know, I have no small degree of ambition, not just for my writing career, but also for lecturing, inspirational speaking and (maybe) even acting or directing in film. With that in mind, I did a little research, and what I came up with boggled my mind, to say the least, but in a good way.
Let’s start with my given name, Michael. Now this is a very common name, especially among men of my age bracket. I will never forget one day at work in my day job as a card carrying member of the military\industrial complex when I was sitting around BS-ing with half a dozen co-workers. Our boss came out and said “Hey Mike, when you get done there could you come into my office?” We looked at each other – all six of us were named “Mike.”
The name Michael turns out to be biblical, of course. In the bible, St. Michael was the conqueror of Satan and patron saint of soldiers. The literal meaning from Hebrew is “(He) who is like God.”
My last name, Bara, is even more interesting. It is not so much a name as it is a word. It is also of Hebrew origin, specifically from the Book of Genesis. It literally means to “create,” or to “create something from nothing.” And we ain’t just talkin’ about creating a piece of sculpture or designing a bridge here. We’re talking about God’s literal creation of the Universe and all that’s in it:
“The verb bara' is used in the basic (qal) stem some 38 times, and in the passive (niphal) stem ten times. All of the uses are in contexts where the English translation “create” fits; and in all the contexts it is God who creates. But the separate categories of meaning will further define what this “creation” is like. Here it will be helpful to survey what was created and then determine how it was done. The categories of meaning with selected samples are:
1. The Formation of the Universe and All Its Contents
The most common use of bara’ applies to God’s acts of the creation of the universe (and all universes) and what is in it. The texts all reveal that God’s creative works are incomparable, and whatever was created is perfect. We may sub-divide this category for specific examples
The Universe. There is no word more appropriate to the dramatic statements about God’s formation of the universe(s) than this word bara’. The term describes exclusively the work of God in producing what to man is unthinkable and impossible. The first verse of the Bible asserts God’s creation rather matter-of-factly: “In the beginning God created (bara’) the heavens and the earth.” The contents of Genesis 1 and corroborative statements such as that found in Psalm 33:9 explain that the means of this creation was the divine decree--God spoke, and it happened. God’s powerful word created everything.
Other passages fit this point as well. Genesis 2:3, stressing that God ceased from his work, summarizes the creation of the heaven and the earth and all the contents with bara’. Isaiah also uses bara’ in this sense, affirming that it is the LORD who created the heavens (Isa. 42:5), the stars (Isa. 40:26), and the ends of the earth (Isa. 40:28). The psalmist also affirms that God created the north and the south (Ps. 89:12 ), which also may be a merism for the whole world.
Cosmic Forces. The verb bara’ is also used to tell of God’s producing the forces of nature. Amos describes the LORD as the one who formed (< yatsar) the mountains and created (bara’) the wind (Am. 4:13). Darkness is also a result of God’s creative power; the LORD says through Isaiah, “I form (yatsar) the light and create (bara’) the darkness. I make (‘asah) peace and create (bara’ ) evil” (Isa. 45:7). “Darkness” in this passage is parallel with “evil” by virtue of the repetition of the verb. The words may stress the evil forces of darkness, or painful calamity, of distressing situations, in contrast to light and peace. Modern scholarship has detected a reference here to early forms of Persian dualism.
Living Creatures. Bara’ is used in Genesis to express the creation of humans as well as other beings. Three times the verb is used in Genesis 1:27; then in the same sense it is repeated in Genesis 5:1, 2; 6:7; Deut. 4:32; and in Isaiah 45:12. The Scripture thereby stresses that humans are exclusively the product of God’s creative act. Since the account in Genesis 2:7 specifies that mankind was formed (yatsar) from the dust of the ground, it may be concluded that the verb bara’ in reference to humans at least describes a formation using pre-existing material. It was a shaping and transforming of dust into a body that the word bara’ summarizes. The use of this verb yatsar should probably be understood figuratively because creation was by divine decree.
One verse that needs additional attention is Psalm 89:47 , which says, “Remember how short my time is; why have you made (bara’ta) all mankind in vain?” The word is here used for the making of the whole human race. Because God created the man and the woman in the beginning, he is therefore perceived to be the one who created the human race too. In other passages synonyms of bara’ are used to ascribe divine causality to the process of human reproduction (cf. Ps. 139:13 which focuses on the development in the womb as God’s creative work).
Bara’ is also used in Genesis 1:21 for the making of the great sea creatures, every living creature that the waters brought forth, and every winged fowl. Why our word is used in this verse is not immediately clear. It may be that since the great sea creatures were feared and venerated in the pagan religions the writer wished to stress the fact that they were only creatures, the product of God’s sovereign creative decree.”
- - From Old Testament Word Studies
So what about my middle name? Well, my middle name is Herbert. I was named for my uncle Burt, who was so pissed off that my first name wasn’t Herbert that he didn’t speak to my parents for months after I was born. Truthfully, I never liked the name much, and at one time I seriously considered changing it to “Alexander.” Now I’m glad I didn’t.
“Herbert” is a name of German origin which means “A bright army” “bright warrior” or “Illustrious warrior.” Seems like a lot of warring going on between “Michael” and “Herbert,” eh?
So let’s see if I’ve got this straight. My name means “(He) who is like God creates an army of light."
Oh, and just by the way, he does this using God's powers of creation and he defeats Satan along the way.
OK. If that isn’t a recipe for megalomania…
But it gets weirder. The title of my first novel? “Lightbringer.” The name of this blog? “The Lightbringer blog.”
Right. Maybe there is something to all this New Age\Hippy stuff after all.
So there you have it. Join my army of Light or the streets will flow with the blood of the unbelievers.
I’m kidding. Really. But F**k with me at your own risk… :)