It seems that names are taken with special care in the Bible:

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT:You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7)

  • Jacob's name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:22-32).
  • Saul's name is changed to Paul (Acts 13:9).

See other examples HERE: https://www.gotquestions.org/name-change.html.

MY QUESTION IS: Why are names taken so carefully in the Bible? Is it tradition or God's will?


1 Answer 1


Names in the Bible tend to fit the narrative in terms of their meanings.

Jacob's name is changed from one meaning "supplanter/deceiver," to one meaning "God prevails" after he had wrestled with God, and God had blessed Jacob. This new name gave him a new opportunity; a new reputation.

But with respect to God's "name," there is an additional concept of honor or reputation attached. In other words, one's "name" is representative of one's character.

When the commandment says "thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain," it could be translated from the Hebrew as "thou shalt not bear the name of the LORD thy God in vain." In other words, this "name" represents God's honor. If one claims to be a follower of God, God asks that one honor God through obedience to His commandments--not merely having a vain religion which says one thing but does another.

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