Bantu Names in the Bible


Another continually updated post, as Bantu (Xhosa) names just keep popping up. In lifting Hebraic and Greek veils, you will find that although there are slight variations, many of them have survived because they are impossible to render (with its inherent meaning) into any other language.

In my youth I diligently studied something called Bible Translation not to long ago. I won't bore you here with its tedious dynamics and structures, and although I learned allot, I must say that very little of these methods and theories can or even should be applied when translating the Bible today. Without considering or arguing which basic text you should begin your translation from (a hot potato in all theological circuits), its fascinating (or perhaps just frustrating) to observe debates where conservative (but also liberal) Christians or orthodox Catholics vs. Greek orthodox Christians argue about the tiniest of unimportant phrases found in each respective translation. As a result they end up having versions that remove `offensive words`, or cover up - even rewriting some of the supposedly too sensual or sexual language. Some translators has even made the point that the wonderful Song of Solomon should have been left out of the Bible because of its explicit sexual and graphic content.


Guess what people, The Creator made sex and it should be something beautiful enjoyed between two people, hopefully (for their own sake) they have fastened the wedlock before they indulge in such activities. Why, I leave up to you to figure out. (though it is a very central theme for safe upbringing of children in African cultures, western cultures puts less and less importance on this setting).

Anyways, it should not come as a surprise to any adult or grown up, that this delicate and special union can only be related in a graphic way. This falls rather hard on conservative ears, who in fact don`t really want to talk about anything regarding true meanings and the origins of phrases, let alone what the original Xhosa actually conveys... There is so much more I could relate on this topic, I won't here though. A rabbit trail fer sure !


Now, to get a feel for what I am trying to convey, we can have a look at one of these more poignant descriptions, you can have light read of the Song of Solomon, its not that long or hard on the understanding. There are detailed descriptions of breasts (1,12-13) and other sexual overtones (7,3 ; 8,10).


Below is a collection of so-called sexually explicit verses, that you may either comdem or try to put into context, you decide. Article will continue on to Bantu names below the verses. Just skip further down:


Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her. [Judges 16:1]


And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. [Genesis 19:33-36]


And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: [Genesis 35:22]


And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. [Genesis 38:2]


And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. [Genesis 38:8-9]


When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. [Genesis 38:15-18]


And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. [2 Samuel 13:11-14]


So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. [2 Samuel 16:22]


Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied. [Ezekiel 16:28]


And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity. [Ezekiel 23:3]


And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours, Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses. Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself. Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her. [Ezekiel 23:5-8]


And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms. She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way, And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity: And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them. So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus thou calls to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth. [Ezekiel 23:11-21]


My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. [Hosea 4:12]


I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. [Hosea 6:10]


Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor. [Hosea 9:1]


And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. [Genesis 9:21]


And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets? [1 Samuel 19:24]


Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself! [2 Samuel 6:20]


So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. [Isaiah 20:4]


And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; [Proverbs 7:7-22]


Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. [Isaiah 13-15]


And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. [Deuteronomy 22:17]


While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. [Song of Solomon 1:12-13]


Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. [Song of Solomon 4:5]


I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. [Song of Solomon 8:10]


But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. [Numbers 31:18]


This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; [Song of Solomon 7:7-8]


And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. [2 Samuel 11:4]


Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. [Song of Solomon 7:3]


To save time we move on to consider the names themselves, which are mostly Bantu names anyways. Of particular interest are names mentioned in Hosea, speifically 1,6, where Hoseas daughter was named `Lo-Ruhamah`, which very poorly translated renders `unloved`. This is, to be mild, a sugar-coating and an edit, as the name bears a very different literal meaning in Xhosa. Lets be frank and blunt, the name itself means `Ass-wipe`, now hows that for graphic and literal description of something. In this case someones child... (could you imaging modern theologians, people who force themselves have to have such stances as `ecumenical` or pretrib - having to explain why somebody in the Bible had a kid names Ass-Wipe... Good luck with that ! The thing is that The Most High actually gave her that name. Why? To make sure the kid was traumatised in her upbringing ? Dont think so, although she probably received a great deal off stick for it, but, if you know how the Almighty operates and does His work, she would have received blessings because off this. Name had a purpose though.


This is important, when names are given in the Bible (and in Africa in general) its because they usually serve a purpose. Names have (and dammit they should have) a meaning. In this case a deeper coherent meaning which is something, a part of the bigger picture, to be revealed later on down the line. If you read the story of Hosea in its entirety, it becomes pretty clear why she got just that name. You see the ancient people of Israel did not do as they where suppose, they where outwardly pledging and making sacrifices, being just as godly as church going Sunday Christian - but their hearts was in the process hardening and kept moving further and further away from their Creator. Lo-Ruhamah was so named to prove a point, and a rather stern promise followed her naming. Another part of the bigger picture.


Now, whats the point in all this?

Lets keep the original Bantu (Xhosa) names and make an honest attempt to try to get acquainted with their deeper meanings and make it possible to receive the intended revelations. Instead of getting more and more lost in the ancient Hebrew or even the Greek. I`m not saying are all totally wrong and packed full of lies. There is enough gospel in every Bible to put of on the right path. The challenge is to walk on it without turning into a complete Hypocrite.


However, there is a big difference between the Bible and Scripture. It will take practise and insight into ancient African culture to get firmer grasps on these things. And remember Bibles are translated with westernised perspectives, which means you will miss out on ALLOT. Perhaps even be lead further away instead off going deeper into what really was going on back in the day.


Language is a fickle thing, and its not like Xhosa is the one all mother tongue through out history, thought is a central part of the language family know as Bantu, a language that just seems to have been around forever. Did everyone speak Xhosa back in ancient times. What do you think?


Let take the example of Josephs two kids, Ephraim and Mannasseh, that was burned and raised in Egypt and spoke ancient Egyptian (Also an ancient Bantu language). Joseph grew up in Egypt, got married there and most certainly spoke Egyptian. Now, Ephraim and Mannasseh became as we know part of the twelve tribes, regardless of their Egyptian names. The other better known example is the name of Moses. The man that was burned and raised from birth in Egypt by the Pharaos wife herself, he went sat in the Egyptian mystery schools classes and studied their wisdom texts (Amenhoteph and the likes, very similar to proverbs).


When the Creator revealed Himself to Moses and told him to go to his people, he said (paraphrasing) that he didn't really speak their language and so forth. This made the Creator have Moses bring his brother Aaron, who had grown up with the ancient traditions of his fathers, the ancient Hebrew (Bantu) faith. Now the Bible does not explicitly say that Moses was not fluent in ancient Bantu, we do know that Moses kids where named with Bantu names (Eliyza (remedy) and Omgeresho (sojourner in a foreign land), pure Xhosa names. So arguably there was before some form of a unison (pure) Bantu language. Xhosa seems to be the closest thing we have today.

Like I said all Bantu names (which includes other dialects than Xhosa, such as Zulu, Shona, Swahili, etc), they have a meaning. And when The Most High Creator of all things tells this man, Hosea, that because off this and this and this (there where legitimate reasons for the specific name), to go and call his daughter Lo-Ruhama. Everyone aquatinted with the story knows that The Almighty made Hosea stay with a woman that was an absolute harlot, unfaithful to the bone. Having relations with other men at every chance she got. What was Hosea told to do? Basically, stay with her, to prove the salient point that just as The Most High stayed with the children of Israel, Hosea the Prophet would bear her unfaithfulness. Would you have kept up with it, if you where Hosea? Probably not. And rightly these are grounds of divorce. Only, its always more complicated.

Back to Rhama (Ruama), which means to (Lo-off) wipe your butt in Xhosa. Which is very extreme, but necessary to prove the point of the Israelites behaviour. This says allot about The Most High, He is raw, straight up, tells it to you like it is. As for His reasons, they are collected in the Bible and have all the merit you can ask for. Meaning they are not unfounded. Can you love something that is of wiping butt...? This was to prove the point that no longer did the Creator have compassion on the house of Israel. They pushed their luck to far.

The next name Hosea gave to his other kid, was Lo-Ammi, to underline the fact that `you are not My people`, and that The Most High was not for them any longer.

Will be back to update the rest off this post, as you can see there is allot to explain moving further down. Directing all attention and focus on Bantu names off course



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