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Name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder & CEO of
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biblical names
Isla and the name Peniel

Hi Jennifer,

My husband and I will be having our first child in November. He wants to give her the middle name Peniel, a place in the bible. We both agreed on Isla being her first name but, I don’t know how to feel about Peniel as her middle name. Isla Peniel. Please let me know what you think. It has a great meaning but i’m afraid ppl won’t be able to pronounce it right.

Thank you!

Hi Stephanie,

One thing I always remind parents about middle names is that they are rarely used. Your daughter is not going to walk down the street introducing herself as Isla Peniel. What’s most important is that the first and last name gel and are coherent together. From the last name on the email (I will not disclose for your privacy) I believe Isla [Lastname] would be a spectacular name and very musical with the two LAs in it!
Peniel is an interesting Biblical name, a variation of Penuel, which means “Face of God.” I found we did not have it in our database and have added it. Although it’s historically a masculine name, it could be used for either gender. It is currently used as a name for churches, ministries and Bible camps.


Elijah too Popular?
Dear Jennifer,
I have always been fascinated by name meanings, and have enjoyed using your site since my early teen years. Back then my favorite name was Aiden, but around 2008 the Aiden-craze hit and I quickly changed my favorite boy name to Elijah.
Elijah is also a family name on my husband’s side of the family tree; we both love it. It has a lot of meaning to our faith background, and we think it sounds fantastic with my husband’s Scott/Irish last name. But it seems that I have a problem with picking “winners.” Since I picked the name in 2009 it’s jumped from number 22 to 11 on the USA’s baby name census.
We don’t want our child to have the same name as every other boy in his class, and it seems like every young Christian couple is naming their son Elijah. Should we just skip the name we love and go with some of the other names we’ve considered like Callahan, Rordan, or Cashel?
Bad Baby Name Luck

Dear BBNL,

Elijah is becoming popular, and Biblical names tend to stay “in style” longer than others. How about some alternatives, like Elias, Elliot or just plain Eli (one of my favorites)?

Cashel is a great alternative, also, as well as Dashiell!

Good luck and let me know what name you settle on.






About Bethel

Hi Jennifer,

First of all, thanks for all the questions you answer! I really appreciate them!

I was looking for the name Bethel and didn’t see it in your database. Some websites seem to say it’s for a girl, and some for a boy. I have found out it’s Hebrew and means “House of God”, but I was wondering if you had any more information on it? Specifically, is this name more common in other cultures or languages, and is it more popular for a certain gender over the other? Thanks so much for your help.

Shelley C.

Hi Shelley,

You’re very welcome!  Thanks for being a loyal reader.  Bethel is historically a female name and does, indeed, mean “House of God.” It’s originally a place name from the Old Testament of the Bible, a town north of Jerusalem.  It is often used as a name for temples or churches.

It is not very common as a given name.