At first glance, it would appear that, unless you don’t mind sticking with the classics–Sara, Elizabeth, and Mary, for example–you will have a hard time choosing a Bible name for your daughter.
To be sure, there are ladies in the Bible with more unusual names, but do you really want to name your daughter Milcah, or Rahab, or Bathsheba?
Then, there are prettier names that aren’t commonly used–Delilah, Jezebel, and Athaliah, for example. The problem, of course, is that they belonged to truly despicable women. No sane person would bestow these monikers upon a baby daughter…at least, not if they knew better.
And of course, there are the many women of the Bible of whom the LORD chooses not to tell us their names. Noah’s wife comes to mind.
The whole situation reminds me of the dilemma that Millie Pontipee faced in the musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In an effort to follow family tradition, she gave her husband, Adam, the choice of three “H” names from the Bible for their baby daughter–Hagar, Hepzibah, and Hannah. It shouldn’t take you long to guess which one he picked.
The fact of the matter is, there simply aren’t as many female names in the Bible as there are male names. Those of the familiar heroines have indeed been quite popular throughout history. But, does that mean that those of us who want more distinctive names for our daughters have to look elsewhere?
Happily, the answer is “No”.
When I tell people that “Acacia” (pronounced “Ah-KAY-sha”) is a Bible name, most folks give me a surprised look and say something like,
“Really? I’ve never heard of her!”
The secret, of course, is that “Acacia” in the Bible is not a “who”–it is a “what”. It is a tree that grows in the desert, and it is Acacia wood that the LORD commands Moses and the Israelites to use when building the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle:
“They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.”
See what you miss when you skip over the “boring”, “irrelevant” parts of the Old Testament?
This symbolism of the Covenant had a powerful meaning for us, and almost instantly we knew that we had a beautifully unique, and at the same time, deeply spiritual name for our daughter.
As we looked into the name further, we discovered that the acacia tree is seen as a symbol of immortality and the resurrection in Greek culture. While most baby name dictionaries give Acacia a definition of “thorny” (ironically, in spite of the fact that not all varieties of the plant have thorns), the Greeks will tell you that it means “resurrection tree”. The reason for this is that the tree can survive a severe drought. It can seem to shrivel up and die, and then burst back to life when rain comes again. Therefore, it is often bestowed upon Greek baby girls born around the time of Easter.
Our Acacia was born on Good Friday morning. Having this powerful reminder of our Savior, the tree on which he shed His blood for us, and His resurrection, gives more meaning to her name than we could have dreamed of on our own. I truly believe that, just as He chose the day of her birth
, the LORD also chose her name.
And what of her middle name, Lily? Well, besides being the name of one of her Great-Great Grandmothers on her father’s side of the family (she spelled it “Lillie”), it too carries a spiritual, botanical reference in Scripture:
“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they never toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Today, our Acacia is a bright eyed, four-year-old beauty, with a song of praise in her heart and a similar personality to little Laura Ingalls. She’d like nothing more than to run around barefoot outside all day long…in her frilliest dress, of course. And even though she wants to be good, it seems that at times she can’t help but find trouble.
Looking at her is like looking into a 20-something-year-old mirror! Living with Acacia is an almost spooky reminder of what I looked like and who I was as a little girl.
Sometimes I have to be careful not to be too easy on her, because she reminds me of “me”…
…Sometimes I have to be careful not to be too hard on her, because she reminds me of “me”.
|Me and my baby sister, circa 1981
As Acacia Lily navigates this road of Christ-honoring womanhood that we are called to walk, I pray that I will be patient and gracious with her, and that, when she looks at me, she will, by the mercies of God, see a picture of a godly woman.