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

When, after long waiting and hoping, a son was at length granted to Rachel, she called him Joseph from a word signifying an addition, because she hoped that yet another child would be added to her family.

Joseph, beloved and honoured as he was for his own beautiful character and eventful history, has perhaps at the present day the greater number of direct namesakes among the Arabs, who still are frequently called Yussuf.

Only two Josephs occur again in the Scripture before the captivity in Babylon, but afterwards they were exceedingly numerous, and in the Gospel history two remarkable characters are so named, as well as three others whom we know by the Græcized form of the name as Joses, i.e. a fourth brother of the royal family of James, Simon, and Jude; he who was usually called by his surname of Barnabas, and he who was also called Barsabas, whose lot was cast with that of Matthias.  The Latinized form we know as the name of the historian Flavius Josephus.  Legend loved to narrate that Joseph of Arimathea brought the Gospel to England, and that his staff was the Christmas-flowering thorn of Glastonbury; nay, that he carried thither the Sancgreal and the holy lance, the mystic objects of the adventures of the Round Table.

Yet, in spite of the reputation of this holy man, and of the universal reverence for 'the just man' of Nazareth, Joseph was scarcely used as a name in Europe till in 1621 a festival day was fixed by the pope in honour of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin.

Therewith an enthusiasm broke forth in Roman Catholic Europe for the name.  All the world in Italy began to call itself Giuseppe or Gioseffo; or for short, Peppo and Beppo have swarmed ever since in every village.

Spain delighted in Josef or Jose, and the more devout in Jose Maria, with Pepe or Pepito for the contraction; Pepita for the Josefa, who, of course, arose at the same time, these becoming the most common of all Peninsular names.

Not to be behindhand in devotion, the Emperor Leopold christened his son Joseph, and thus recommended it to all his subjects; and, perhaps, the Tyrol is the greatest of all the strongholds of the Josephs, the name being there called by its last syllable in all endearing varieties, Sepp, Sepperl, &c.; while the Swiss, on the other side, have Sipp and Sippli.  Maria Josepha was a daughter of Maria Theresa, and these two are seldom separated in Germany, Italy, or France; but as Maria forms part of the name of every Roman Catholic woman, and of most men, the second name is the one for use.  Marie Josephe Rose was the Christian name of her whom we know and pity as the Empress Josephine, and to whom it is owing that France was once full of young ladies usually called Fifine or Finette; while the rougher damsels of Lucerne are content to be Boppi in familiar life.

The Slavonians use the varieties Josko and Joska; the Letts turn the name into Jaschis or Jeps.  It is in fact broken into as many odd contractions as it can possibly undergo.  It is Joseef or Oseep in Russia.

England having freed herself from Roman Catholic influence before this mighty crop of Josephs sprang up, merely regarded the name as one of the Scripture names chiefly used by Puritans, although Joseph Addison has given it distinction in literature; and there Joe is of uncertain origin, as it is as often the contraction of Josiah or Joshua as of Joseph.  In some parts of England, Joseph and Mary are considered appropriate to twins.  Josephine is with us a mere introduction from the French.

Joseph, or Joses, as he was called since, coming from Cyprus—he was one of the Hellenistic Jews—is best known to us under his surname of Barnabas, which St. Luke explains from the Aramaic as υἱὸς παρακλησέος (uios parakleseos), the son of comfort, a word which bears different interpretations, since comfort may be either exhortation or consolation; and it is in the latter sense that St. Chrysostom and our translators have understood the word, though there are many who prefer the other meaning.

Barnabas has not been a very common name, though, with an apostle for its origin, it could not fail to be everywhere known; but it was never royal; and the only historical character so called, Bernabo Visconti, was enough to give any name an evil odour.  We make it Barnaby when we do use it, the Irish call it Barney and confuse it with Brian, and the Russians call it Varnava.  One Barnabas Hutchinson, proctor of the chapter of Durham, who died in 1633, is thus commemorated in his epitaph:

"Under this thorne tree
Lies honest Barnabee."*

Joseph had named his two sons Manasseh (forgetting), because he said, "God hath made me forget all my toil," and Ephraim (twofold increase).  The first was early adopted by the Israelites; we find it belonging to the son of Hezekiah, and to the father of Judith, and, to our amazement, to a mediæval knight, whose friends may perhaps have brought it from the Crusades.  Two early bishops of Cambrai bore the name of Manassès, and there is one among the under-tenants in Domesday Book.  In Ireland, the name of Manus, a corruption of Magnus, derived from the Northmen who invented it, is turned into Manasses.

Ephraim, like other patriarchal names, lived on in Mesopotamia; and St. Ephrem of Edessa, who lived in the beginning of the fourth century, is esteemed as a doctor of the Church, and is the name-saint of numerous Russians, who keep his day on the 28th of January, though the Roman Church marks it in July.

* Kitto's Biblical Cyclopaedia; Trollope's Greek Testament; Michaelis.
Proper Names of the Bible; Michaelis; O'Donovan's Irish Names.


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