Hebrew first names first started being used after the Exile to Babylon. During the Talmudic period, a large proportion of names were of Greek origin and came from the Bible. During the Talmudic period, the Hebrew tradition of using double names was first introduced as an attempt to translate the Hebrew names into Greek names.
During the Post-Talmudic period, as the Jews settled throughout the lands bordering the Mediterranean, they drew upon other languages for their personal names while still preserving Biblical ones. This is when the use of non-Jewish first names first became normalized. There are over, a whopping, 3,000 Biblical Hebrew names in use today. Today, it is customary for Jewish babies to be named after a friend or relative, but they don’t have to be. Many babies are also given a Hebrew name in addition to their first name in order to carry on the tradition. We decided to look at some classic Hebrew baby names for girls that have been in use for centuries but still sound bright and amazing today. Here are 25 Jewish baby names for girls that we think all parents will love.
Abigail is known as one of King David’s wives and the mother of one of his sons. This Hebrew name means “joy of my father.” This name has proper vintage charm and has belonged to two first ladies. The name is more favored today than ever before and it rests in the top 25 most popular names for girls in the US.
Atara is a somewhat forgotten choice, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. The name means “crown.” Atara is a versatile name that’s never been on the pop charts in the US. Parents, this name is gorgeous and ripe for new life.
Batsheva or Batsheba is the name of the shrewd and beautiful wife of King David and the mother of King Solomon. This somewhat heavy-sounding name means “daughter of an oath.” As with Atara, Batsheva has not earned mainstream acclaim in the US.
Chaya is the Hebrew, feminine version of Chayyim meaning “life.” The name has roots in both Hebrew and was modernized in Yiddish. The name has steadily been gaining steam since the 1980s and we’d love to see it used by more new parents. A warning: the pronunciation of this name, KH-EYE-ah, is hard for some (the goys). Be prepared to correct people that will try and say CHAI-yuh.
Eden is a given name and a placename in Genesis. The Garden of Eden is associated with Paradise which is why this name sounds so heavenly. This is a gender-neutral name that works for any baby. The US was first introduced to the name after the seventeenth-century Puritans adopted it. It’s currently more popular today than ever before. The name means “paradise.”
Eleora and Eliora are two different spellings of the same name and both are completely acceptable. Eleora has a lyrical quality to it and would be a welcome alternative to the more popular, Eliana. This attractive name means “God is my light.”
Elisheba is known as the wife of the High Priest, Aaron. This name is the root of the ever-popular Elizabeth. The Hebrew form of the name means “God is my sustenance.” Elizabeths get Beth and Elishebas get Sheba. Not bad, right?
Esther married King Ahasuerus of Persia and saved the Jews from genocide. Esther was in the top 50 a hundred years ago and remained in the top 100 until 1935. It took some time off, but now the name is roaring back. This Hebrew name means “myrtle.”
If Esther is too commonplace for you, consider the Queen’s other name, Hadassah. The name is well-used in Isreal and has finally caught on in the US. The name began trending in 2008 and now it’s the 672nd most popular name for girls. Hadassah shares its meaning with Esther referring to the “myrtle tree.”
Hannah originated as a variation of the Hebrew name Channah, derived from the word channan, meaning “grace.” Hannah is the mother of Samuel. Names including Anne, Anna, Nancy, Anya, Annika, and Annabel are all related to Hannah. Alternate spellings such as Hana, Hanna, and Chana are also used. This mega-popular name isn’t going anywhere.
Jessica is known as a relative of the patriarch Abraham. When Jennifer was ready to give up her throne, her crown was passed to Jessica, who reigned for not one but two decades! Jessica was the top name from the 1980s-2000. This Hebrew name means “to love.”
Originally used for children baptized in holy water from the River Jordan, it became one of the leading androgynous names of the nineties. As the balance tips toward the boys’ side, it’s slipping on the girls’ popularity chart. Alternate spelling Jordyn is now more popular for girls. This name refers to the river in Israel and means to “flow down.”
Judith was the Heroine of a book not included in the Jewish Bible. In it, she beheaded Holophernes. Shakespeare named one of his daughters Judith, and Dame Judi Dench was, of course, born Judith. This Hebrew name means “praise” or “woman from Judah.”
Leah, the third matriarch of the Children of Israel, marries the patriarch Jacob and bears him 5 sons and a daughter. Leah was derived from the Hebrew word le’ah, meaning “weary.” Others contest that and suggest the name actually means “cow.” Leah is a top 50 name and has been in the top 500 for as long as records have been kept in the US.
Mara is the reminiscent ancient root of Mary, appearing in the Book of Ruth, in which Naomi, devastated after the death of her two sons, says “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.” Mara has been in the top 1000 in the US since the 1950s and we love this name even if it does mean “bitter.”
While we’re thinking about the name Naomi… She was the mother-in-law of Ruth the Moabite. When Naomi returns to Israel from Moab, Ruth comes with her. For many Jewish families, this symbolic name is given to girls on Shavuot. The name has been in the top 500 since the 1880s. It means “pleasant.” We agree!
Rachel was derived from the Hebrew word rāchēl, meaning “ewe.” Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. International variations include the Spanish Raquel and Israeli Rahel. The name has dipped in popularity since the 2000s, but it’s still a most favorable name.
Rebecca derives from the Hebrew name Rivkah, from the verb ribbqah, meaning “noose.” The biblical Rebecca was the wife of Isaac and the mother of Esau and Jacob. Rebekah was a common spelling of the name in the Bible. Today, the name is considered to mean “captivating.” While it is not as popular as it was in the 1970s and 80s, it’s still going strong.
Ruth was the loyal and devoted daughter-in-law of Naomi who, when electing to leave her people and stay with the older woman, speaks the famous lines, “Whither thou goest, I will go.” The late, great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is as good a reason as any to choose this name. The name means “compassionate friend.”
Sarah was derived from the Hebrew word sarah, meaning “princess.” Biblical Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac. Sarah was originally called Sarai but had her name changed by God to the more hopeful Sarah when she was ninety years old. Sarah has been and always will be one of the most popular names for girls in the US.
Shiloh is a placename in Israel where Joshua and the Israelites assembled to cast lots for the seven tribes and for many years it was where the Ark of the Covenant resided, becoming a place of pilgrimage. This gorgeous name works for both boys and girls and means “tranquil” or “gift.”
Shoshanna and Shoshana are two lovely forms of Susannah commonly heard in Israel. The name has yet to take off in the US, but it’s on the horizon. This absolutely stunning name means “lily” or “rose.”
Sivan is a month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls between May and June on the Gregorian calendar. The name was originally derived from simānu, an Akkadian word meaning “season.” In Hebrew, the name means “third month.” Of all the Jewish month-names, this is one of our very favorites.
Talia is derived from the Hebrew elements tal, meaning “dew,” and yah, in reference to God. In the mythology of one ancient sect, Talia was one of ten angels who attended the sun on its daily course. The occasionally homophonous name Thalia has unrelated Greek origins. The name has been on an upward climb since the seventies and it’s now a top 500 name. It means “gentle dew from heaven.” We’ll take it!
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Tirza was one of the daughters of Zelophehad (Zelophechad) who successfully argued for the right to inherit their father’s property in the absence of a male heir. Tirza is an absolutely brilliant and energetic name that means “pleasing.” This name has not found its way into many American homes, but we hope to see that change over the coming years! This name is incredible.
We hope you enjoyed these 25 classic Hebrew names for girls and feel inspired to choose one for your baby. These names are so beloved because of their beauty and their endearing meanings.