Patriarchal Names: Joseph.
From History of Christian Names, by
Charlotte M. Yonge, 1884.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
or Joses, as he was called since, coming from Cyprushe
was one of the Hellenistic Jewsis
best known to us under his surname of Barnabas, which St. Luke explains from the
(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
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:
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.