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Patriarchal Names:  Isaac.
From History of Christian Names, by Charlotte M. Yonge, 1884.

The verb to fight or to rule furnished both the names of the wife of Abraham; Sarai (quarrelsome) was thus converted into Sarah (the princess).  If we may judge from the example of the bride of Tobias, the daughters of Sarah were occasionally called by her name, and Zara has been, with what correctness I know not, used as an eastern name.

Sarah now and then occurs in England, as with Sara Beauchamp, (temp. Ed. I.,), but I suspect that she as well as Sarrota de Multon, who lived in the former reign, were alterations of some of the derivatives of the Teutonic prefix Sig—victory, as the masculine Saher or Serlo certainly came from Sigeheri.  Sarah was never commonly used till after the Reformation, when it began to grow very popular, with its contraction Sally; and at the same time it was adopted as the equivalent for no less than three Irish names—Sadhbh (pronounced Soyv), Sorcha (bright), and Saraid (excellent).  The two first are still in use; but Highlanders make a still stranger use of Sarah, which they use to translate their native More (great), perhaps in consequence of its meaning.

Elsewhere the name is occasionally used without the h that our biblical translators gave it.  It is not, however, very popular, though the French have used it enough to make it Sarotte; in Illyria its diminutive is Sarica; in Lithuania it is Zore.*

When the first glad tidings of he Child of Promise were announced, Sarah laughed for very joy and wonder, and Laughter (Yizchak) became the name of her son; known in Greek as Ἰσαὰκ, in Latin and to the European word as Isaac.

It was not revived among the early Jews; but, like Abraham, it was used by the eastern Christians, and St. Isaac, bishop of Beth Seleucia, was put to death with other Christian martyrs by Sapor II. of Persia.  Another eastern Isaac was a hermit at Spoleto, in the sixth century, and Isaak has always been a favourite name in the Greek Church.  Several of the family of Comnenus, both at Constantinople and Trebizond, rendered Isaak a royal name; and Isaak or Eisaak, whose feast falls on the 30th of May, is the patron of the cathedral at Petersburg.  The name is frequently used in Russia and the other Greco-Slavonic countries, though not much varied.

It had not much favour in the West, though it appears once in Domesday Book, and occurs in the Cambray registers.  Mr. Bardsley thinks that it, with some other Patriarchal names, became familiar through Mystery plays.  But its chief popularity was after the Reformation, when it is continually to be found among the Huguenots, and it seems to have passed from them to other French families, since it is sometimes found in pedigrees, and the noted de Sacy, a grandson of the Arnauld family, was thus christened long after his forefathers had conformed to the Roman Catholic Church.

With us Izaak, as our ancestors spelt it, is just so prevalent among us as to have a recognized contraction, Ike or Ikey.

Isaac's wife was called from rabak (to bind).  The word Ribkâ meant a cord with a noose, and probably was given as conveying the firmness of the marrige bond.  The Septuagint and Latin gave Rebecca; the authorized version Rebekah; and both spellings are adopted by those bearing the name, who are generally called Becky.

Here too should be mentioned the faithful nurse of Rebekah, who was so lamented that the tree beneath which she was buried was known as the oak of weeping.  Her name of Deborah came from a verb meaning to hum or buzz, and signified a bee, or, in after times, eloquent.

Deborah found no favour as a name except among English Puritans, and has acquired a certain amount of absurdity from various literary associations, which prevent 'Deb.' from being used except by the peasantry.

Of Rebekah's two daughters-in-laws, Rachel signified a ewe.

Dante made l’antica Rachele, with her beautiful eyes, the type of heavenly contemplation, ever gazing at the mirror that reflected heavenly glory; but her name was not popular, although the Manx princess, otherwise called Affrica, assumed it upon her marriage with Somerled, Lord of the Isles, somewhere about the eleventh century.

But Puritan days loved the sound of the word, and "that sweet saint who say by Russell's side" has given it a place in many an English family.  Polish Jews call it Rahel; in which form it was borne by the metaphysical lady who became the wife of Varnhagen von Ense.

Rachel's less beloved and less favored sister had a name that came from lawah (hanging upon, dependence, or, as in her case it is explained, weariness)—Leah, in French Lea, in Italian Lia, under which title Dante makes her the emblem of active and fruitful, as is her sister of meditative love.  It was from the same word that she named her third son Levi, when she hoped that her husband would be more closely united or dependent on her.  Levi's name was carried on into the Gospel times, and belonged to the publican who was called from the receipt of custom to become an Apostle and an Evangelist.  His Aramean name was, however, that by which he calls himself in his own narrative, or more correctly speaking, by its Græcized form.  The old Hebrew Mattaniah (gift of the Lord) was probably the origin of both the names that we have in the Greek Testament as Ματθαῖος and Ματθίας, Matthæus and Matthias as the Latin renders them.  Some, however, make the first mean a faithful man; but it is not possible to distinguish between the various forms that have risen out of the two among persons who, probably, had no idea that the Apostle who supplied the place of Judas was a different person from the Evangelist.  The Emperor Charles V. was born on St. Matthias' day, and the text "The lot fell on Matthias" was regarded as a good augury, whence Matthias came into favour in Austria and its dependencies.  Matteo heads the Milanese Visconti, who were mostly named after the Evangelists.

 

English.
Matthias
Matthew
Mat
German.
Matthæus
Matthia
Matthes
Matthis
Bavarian.
Mathies
Mahe
Hies
Hiesel
Mathe
Swiss.
Mathias
Thies
Thiesli
Swedish.
Mathias
Mats
Danish.
Mathias
Mads
Friesland.
Matthies
Hise
Hisse
French.
Matthieu
Macé
Italian.
Matteo
Maffeo
Feo
Mattia
Spanish.
Mateo
Russian.
Matfei
Matvej
Polish.
Mateusz
Maciei
Maciek
Matyas
Hungarian.
Matyas
Mate
Slovak.
Matevz
Tevz
Mattija
Esthonian.
Maddis
Mats

Apostolic names are particularly common in Bavaria, probably from the once frequent representations of the Mystery of the Passion.  In Germany, SS. Matthew and Matthias have produced the surnames Matthies, Matys, Thiess, and Thiessen, Latinized after a queer scholarly fashion into Thysius.

* Books consulted:—Proper Names of the Bible; Le Beau's Histoire du Bas Empire; O'Donovan on Irish Proper Names; Michaelis, Personen Namen.

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