what's in a name

Well. We just got back from the 20 week ultrasound, and it was excellent news because the Doc said that our boy was a-okay. Meaning, all the organs were in the right places, and the heart looked good, no spina bifida or other developmental defects and everything of his was proportional to everything else (insert penis joke here).

Well after reading my last post you may have left wondering. "So how exactly do you chose a name that is supposed to have meaning in the future?" And let me tell you I was wondering the same thing. But I figured it wasn't something you could force, so we just went about our business thinking of names we liked. There were good names that either meant something random or superficial, and of course we had names that we liked and that we thought were cool but had to nix because of someone we know who is really lame who has that name (like Lukas). Just kidding, we did nix plenty of names for that reason, but we had to nix Lukas, which we loved, because of my last name which would've made the child Lukas Dukes. A little too much "uke." However there has been a large contingency of people clamoring for the names Bo, Luke, or Daisy but I know not why...

I digress.

So anway, long before all this hullabalou got started, a pretty cool thing happened. The day that we decided that we were going to actually start trying to have kids, I woke up and was reading in my bible in the morning and God just kinda led me to Psalm 112. I don't specifically ever remember reading it before but God definitely got my attention when I did that morning. I was praying before I started reading just about how I wanted to have kids who loved God with all their heart and used their minds as well. I prayed for kids who would be salt and light on the earth; generous, kind, compassionate, couragous and able to stand for what is true and good in a world that seems to lose sight of that day by day. And I just asked God to help me be the loving faithful example for them.

And then I open my eyes and read:

Psalm 112

1 Praise the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.

2 His children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.

3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.

6 Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.

7 He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.

9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.

10 The wicked man will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

So that was very cool. And I read over it a couple times and I just felt God telling me that at least one and maybe all of our kids names were somehow going to come out of this Psalm.

From the beginning we had a couple favorite parts, and since we didn't know if we were going to have a boy or a girl, we had plenty of options too. What was cool though was that two of the names that we had already talked about loving for girls were the names Layla (which means dark beauty) and Embrey (which means smoldering fire). So verse 4 really stuck out to us because we loved the "light out of darkness" imagery that it conjured and that perfectly fit those names.

Another name we loved was the name Donovan, which lucky for us, means "dark warrior". So all we had to do was find a name that had something to do with light in some way. And we had some options that we liked, but we never could find the one that fit. And as much as we wanted Donovan to work, neither of us could actually see ourselves calling THIS kid Donovan. It just didn't fit. Too bad for us, we told poor Donovan Harper that we were almost 100% sure we were going to name our child after him after we found out it was a boy. Whoops.

So we were back to square one, but the day that I pretty much gave up on Donovan I remembered a name that Keight said something about a couple of months ago and it just landed in my brain as I was sitting in the living room.


I said it in my head a couple times and tried on phrases like, "Judah come to dinner!" or "Honey, I think Judah crapped his pants again!" And you know it just...fit.

So I went back and looked at who Judah was and what it means and everything and I was very pleasantly surprised. There's only one Judah in the bible, but it's the fourth most mentioned name in the whole book (can you name three above him?) so the guy got something right.

Check out the story some time if you care, but the annotated version is that Judah is the fourth of Leah's sons to Jacob, which makes him one of the twelve tribes of Israel and his name means "praised or Praise the Lord" because it sounds like the Hebrew word for Hallelujah. Even though he's fourth in line, all of Jacob's older sons are kind of turds, so Judah becomes the de facto leader of all the brothers. And what I love about his story is that he is a leader, but he isn't always perfect. He makes mistakes and he has flaws, but he owns up to them and does what is right in the end. Which is exactly what I hope for my children, we all make mistakes, but it takes character to admit you were wrong and do what is right.

So we fell in love with the name and while we are both aware that the name itself is uncommon, and sounds like a folk singer or a crazy missionary kid, we just love the way it looks and sounds, and how strong it is.

Judah ends up in the bible so many times because the kings of the southern kingdom of Israel came from his line, and it was later promised to one of his ancestors (David) that from that same line, would one day come the last true king of the Jews, the Messiah. So in keeping with that theme we decided on the name Judah David Dukes.

David is my middle name too, and means beloved, so it all comes together to mean:

Praise the Lord, our beloved has come.

The name fits so well because so much of what we want for this child is for him to just know that he is loved and cherished no matter what. And like I mentioned earlier, both of his names point forward to the Messiah, so this modern day Judah also looks forward to the day when our beloved Jesus will come back to us.

Please feel free to contribute your thoughts on possible nicknames and teasing in the comments sections. We've already prepared ourselves for Judy, Judith, Buddah, Judas and Judah the Obscure (thanks Lee). Keight's father also came up with "Judah man" which isn't deragatory, but still kinda funny.

Does this mean without a doubt you'll meet a Judah David Dukes soon? I hope so, but I think K8 isn't 100% sold yet. Reassure her!

I thought that we'd just been off base about the whole the Psalm 112 thing, but the I realized Judah was staring at me there in the very first line. Praise the Lord indeed!



  1. Jesse, just have to say that I love the name and am so excited for you as you begin your parenting adventure.

  2. Jes, this is just awesome, and so amazing and so like God to give you such insight, and such meaning in your little boy's name. How God gives it is as much fun as giving it, and it will be so wonderful for him to know how God did it.