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Israelite Names:  Moses and Aaron.
From History of Christian Names, by Charlotte M. Yonge, 1884.

At the time of the Exodus, the Israelites had become a nation, and their names, though still formed from a living language, were becoming more hereditary and conventional than those of the patriarchal times.

That of Moses himself, interpreted by the Scripture as meaning drawn out of the water, belongs rather to the Egyptian than to the Hebrew language.  It probably came from the Coptic mo, water, and usha, saved; though the Hebrew, mâshâh, also presents a ready derivation:  the great Law-giver.  It has never been forgotten in the East, where the Arabs in the desert point out Gebel Mousa, the rock of Moses, whence they say the water flowed, and Wady Mousa, the vale of Moses.  Mousa, is a frequent name among the Arabs to this day, and among the gallant Moors of Granada, none stands so prominently forward in the noble rivalry of Abencerrages and Zegris as does the champion Muza.

Moses was unused by the Jews while they continued a nation, but has been very common in their dispersion, and in Poland has come to be pronounced Mojzesz.  The frequent Jewish surname Moss is taken from one of these continental corruptions of the name of the great Law-giver.  In Ireland the name Magsheesh has been adopted by the inhabitants as an imitation of Moses; but no form of Moses is used elsewhere, except as a direct Scripture name.

The name of Thermuthis has been found on a tombstone, given apparently in honour of Pharaoh's daughter, whom Josephus thus denominates.

Aaron's name is in like manner considered to be Egyptian, and the meaning is very doubtful, though it is commonly explained as a high mountain.

Aaron seems to have been assumed as a name by some of our old British Christians, or else it was accepted as an equivalent for something Keltic, for Aaron and Julius were among our very few British martyrs under Diocletian's persecution, and a later Aaron was an abbot in Brittany; but it has never been a name in use.*

* Proper Names of the Bible; Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon; Butler's Lives of the Saints; Dean Stanley.


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