Once upon a time, Biblical boys’ names like Isaac, Elijah and even Noah were seldom heard. Today, our Sunday schools are packed with little prophets.
And yet, this one probably remains way too obscure for wearing. Thanks to Bek for suggesting Habakkuk as Name of the Day.
If you know your Bible, you might recall that Habakkuk was one of the twelve minor prophets. Minor has more to do with the brevity of their writings than the content. In fact, Habakkuk is an interesting case. He questions God’s actions – making him an unusual prophet, indeed.
Amongst the twelve, there are a few gems – Amos, Joel, Jonah, Haggai, Hosea, Malachi, Micah, Nahum, Obadiah, Zechariah and Zephaniah. Almost all of those have a certain amount of appeal to modern parents. (Only Haggai seems more awkward than Habakkuk.)
Other than his writings, little is known of the man who wore the name in life. In fact, the source of his name is open to debate:
- Most give the meaning “embrace” from the Hebrew word khavak;
- The Akkadian plant khabbaququ suggests a possible botanical connection.
He’s linked to other Old Testament stories, but that’s more custom than evidence-based. Scholars believe he lived around 600 BC, but that’s about all that can be confirmed.
It’s not much of a tale, and yet there is a twist. Visit Toyserkan in western Iran and you can see the tomb believed to hold Habakkuk’s earthly remains. They have their own versions of his life, including imprisonment. And he’s captured the imaginations of some creative forces. A Donatello sculpture of Habakkuk can be seen in Florence; religious icons depict him.
I’ve most often heard HAB eh kuk. The pronunciation ha BAK uk is an alternate.
And someone must’ve pronounced this name at some point, because Habakkuks are indeed found in the US Census and the historical record. Was it a simple case of Puritan parents seeking ever-more obscure Biblical names? Maybe. But there’s also:
- Born in Switzerland in the late 1500s, mathematician, astronomer and priest Habakkuk Guldin preferred to be known as Paul;
- One of Habakkuk’s quotes inspired inventor Geoffrey Pyke to suggest the British military attempt “something in your days that you would not believe” – the construction of a floating aircraft carrier out of wood pulp and ice for use in the mid-Atlantic during World War II. It would’ve been called Project Habakkuk, but it was never built;
- In the 1960s, a BBC radio’s Round the Horne featured parodies by faux-folk singer Rambling Syd. One of his famous ditties was On the Good Ship Habakkuk – a refernece to Pyke’s plan;
- If you’ve heard of the World of Krynn, you’re probably a fan of Dungeons & Dragons spinoff Dragonlance – and might recognize Habakkuk as the name of a god. I’m not up on my DnD, but he appears to be one of the good guys.
There’s not much there to revive Habakkuk, though you do have the sense that a story has been lost.
He’s also harmed by the lack of an obvious nickname. Hab might work, but surely there’s an easier way to arrive at that choice. You could tuck him in the middle spot – but there are far more accessible Biblical picks out there.