A bee?

Not because I am a bitch. (Parse that how you will.) But because it’s the meaning of “Deborah”. It’s a Hebrew name, and the name translates as “bee”.

The more prominent Deborah in the bible seems to have been a kick-ass woman – a prophet and a warrior. I like that. She led the Israelites into battle against the Canaanites.

Mind you, I found this little piece of misogyny in the Wikipedia entry on Deborah:

Though it is not uncommon to read a victory hymn in the Hebrew Bible, the Song of Deborah stands out as unique in that it is a hymn that celebrates a military victory helped by two women: Deborah and Jael. Michael Coogan writes that Jael being a woman “is a further sign that Yahweh ultimately is responsible for the victory: The mighty Canaanite general Siera will be ‘sold’ by the Lord ‘into the hand of a woman’ (Judges 4:9) – the ultimate degradation.”

“Deborah” was a very popular name in the late fifties and sixties. Most of the time when I was at school, there was at least one other Deborah / Debora / Debrah / Debra in my year group, and I share my name with quite a few of my friends. They are all magnificent women. I don’t think the name is given to new babies at all now, ‘though no doubt it will come back into fashion again, perhaps when all of us Deborahs are reaching grandmotherly age.

17 responses

  1. I love the name Deborah. I went to school with quite a few Deborahs/Debras/Deboras, frequently shortened to Deb. My name is also one that places its owner in a certain age bracket..

  2. A prophet and a warrior is spectacularly appropriate, I think.

    Megan means nothing special – it’s a Welsh variant of Margaret, which means pearl. Boring.

    1. But very glamorous, and pretty, and beyond price.

    2. Aw. So sweet. Like honey, even. :)

  3. Mary means bitter, and Helen means light. Thus I was saddled with personality tension from birth. And now I’m not a Gemini any more I feel like I need to claim multiple personality disorder. :)

  4. Both biblical Tamars were extremely unfortunate women, but the name itself is lovely, it means date palm. Jewish Deborahs pop up with more regularity so aren’t necessarily of a certain age! Anyway, thanks for the new blog aand welcome home.

  5. my name is cornish and dates most of us to being born in the late 1970′s when poldark was popular… its actually the name of a small hamlet/town in Cornwall and became a girls name through its use in the poldark books… my middle name is Elizabeth… pretty boring if you ask me…. names are fascinating, I found it so hard coming up with the right names for our children, but think we got it right.

  6. Welcome to your new home (both blogwise and, pretty soon, physically too).

    BTW, I note your banner is not merely a bee but a queen being attended to by her retinue.

    1. Well spotted! I don’t know about the ‘retinue’ bit though. I’m very taken the the NZ native bees, which are solitary (I think), except that they live in close proximity to each other, all making their nests in a suitable clay bank.

  7. I read that the Song of Deborah was one of the oldest, possibly the oldest passage in the Bible.

    I think the wikipedia interpretation is likely but the fact that Deborah is a judge also means she has been accorded the highest honour also.

    Must read some more of the book of Judges, it’s great fun.

  8. They are lovely. I actually got stung by one a couple of weeks ago while I was trying to rescue a bunch out of swimming pool! More of a suprise than anything, what pain there was ranks somwhere near the sweatbee on the Schmidt Pain index.

    (This is really an aisde, but I like asides, one of the really interesting things about bees and their kin is the very number of living arrangements they’ve come to. From purely solitary critters like some NZ bees, to shared roosting like the clay nesters you’ve been watching, on to shared nests and all the way to the true sociality with workers that only reproduce by proxy)

  9. Melissa van der Linden | Reply

    Oh the kinship! Melissa means Honey Bee (Greek) however I have seen an interpretation of being “Sweet like honey” which, although a bit sickening, I think I prefer!

  10. I’ll never understand name fashions.
    In 1950 just about one NZ girl in three was named Christine (I’ve checked the birth registers, for an unrelated project!).
    And an acquaintance of mine, born 1946, once reported that they all had to stand up in class and say their second names : “There were 26 Margarets in my class and I was the only Ingrid!” (Princess Margaret Rose and film star Ingrid Bergman were responsible for that, I’d guess).
    Still, better a normal name temporarily in fashion, than the meaningless and poorly spelled noises that some parents saddle their kids with to be “different”.
    And why is it the poor girls get saddled with fashion names, while the top ten popular boys’ names differ little from one decade to the next? Something to do with dignity and gravitas, perhaps?

  11. I love the name Demelza – and yes, I loved the Poldark series. Angharad Rees was my favourite actor for a time. My name means usurper, and it derives directly from Jacob. I would rather be a bee.

  12. Daleaway – you’ve never come across Kayden, Jayden, Brayden, Zayden and Troy?

  13. boys names have trends too, just look in classes at the moment… Xavier is quite common, often mispronounced as x a ver, or spelt with a Z… and the hayden, brayden thing is noticeable too… there is a kid just starting school that I know called Matrix, and I have noticed a few Seths/Zeths at the moment….

    I think you notice the names outside the lucas, Joshuas, samuels etc because they do stand out, and in a baby naming book the girls section is always a lot bigger than the boys…

    Thanks Jackie, I didnt like my name for a while, but I love it now, and I first read Poldark when I was 11….

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