And with you there shall be a man from every tribe, each one the head of his father’s house. These are the names of the men who shall stand with you…(Numbers 1:4-5)
There are twenty-four names listed in the next several verses: twelve are the men who were named from each tribe to lead that tribe. The other twelves names were their fathers, thus the pattern established in the list at the very beginning, “Elizur the son of Shedeur.” That first name, Elizur, means ” God is my rock (protector) which then speaks to our theme for today — the vital connection between God and Israel as evidenced in the names given to the people of Israel.
Of the twenty-four names given, nine of them include the word אל el –or “God, mighty one.” Three include the word צור tzur referring to the fact that God is our “rock.” Three include the title שדי shaddai which is translated, “Almighty” but commonly implies the giving of benefits, or in short, “provider.” In other words, the vast majority of the names listed have a close association with a title given to the God of Israel, again demonstrating just how important He was to the existence of Israel — so much so that they named their children after His attributes and titles.
But there is something else we need to take note here beyond that point. The LORD told Moses who to appoint as leaders, meaning that the God of Israel called all of these men by name — He knew who they were! That should really do something to us; to know that the Sovereign of the Universe knows who we are. We are not some nameless phantom that drifts into existence of which He has no knowledge of — He knows us all by our name. As He said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Likewise, before any of us were conceived, He knew who we were and, just as importantly, what He had created us to do. So then, whatever our name is and whether or not it has Biblical connections, He knows us and, most importantly, He wants us to know Him by name, as well.
Blessings and Shalom,