The Ten: Bible characters who received new names

Keep family and friends informed by sharing this article.

There are many times in the Bible when a person’s name was changed, or a nickname is given. Not all these names came from God, but all name changes marked a transformation in the people who were renamed. Here are 10 examples: 

Abram/Abraham (Genesis 17:1–5)
God appeared to Abram when he was 99 years old and made a promise to bless Abram and multiply his descendants. God then changed his name from Abram (meaning “exalted father”) to Abraham (meaning “father of a multitude”).

Sarai/Sarah (Genesis 17:15)
In the same conversation where God changed Abram’s name, He also changed his wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah. Both names mean “Princess”, but the change marks a new season in Sarai’s life as God works through her as well.

Joseph/Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45)
Pharoah was so impressed by Joseph he gave him a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah, along with a wife.

Jacob/Israel (Genesis 32:28)
After an overnight wrestle with God, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (meaning “He strives with God”) and a blessing was bestowed on Jacob (Genesis 32:28).

Hoshea/Joshua (Numbers 13:16)
At his first task of leading the spies in scoping out the Promised Land, Hoshea (“salvation”) becomes Joshua (“Yahweh saves”) at Moses’ direction.

Solomon/Jedediah (2 Samuel 12:24,25)
At his birth, a young Solomon (meaning “peaceable”) is given a new name from God through the prophet Nathan. This name is Jedediah, meaning “beloved of the Lord”.

Naomi/Mara (Ruth 1:20)
On return to her homeland without her husband and sons, Naomi tells those who excitedly greet her that she should no longer be called Naomi (“pleasant”), but Mara (“bitter”).

Mattaniah/Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17)
Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel and put Mattaniah on the throne, changing his name to Zedekiah (“righteousness of Jehovah”).

Simon/Peter (John 1:42)
Jesus gives His disciple Simon (meaning one who “hears”) a new name in Peter which means “rock”. At the time this name seem strange as Simon Peter’s character does not seem reflective or worthy of this moniker, but he really grows into it as he continues Jesus’ ministry on earth after the

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah/ Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 1:7)
When Daniel and his friends were taken as captives into Babylon, they were designated new names by the chief official as a way to force their assimilation into Babylonian culture. 

Related Stories