Today’s choice is yet another compromise play – sounds trendy, but has impeccable roots.
Thanks to Emmy Jo for suggesting our Name of the Day: Javan.
Ask about Javan on a baby naming board and odds are that at least a dozen people will dismiss him as invented. Odds are that some parents arrive at this choice by mixing up the ever-popular letter J with Kevin and Devon. But Javan has a story of his own, and it is quite ancient.
In the Bible, Noah built the arc, saving not only all of those furry animals, but his own family, too. His son Japheth is considered the ancestor of all European peoples. (Brothers Ham and Shem populated other corners of the globe.) Japheth’s seven boys, in turn, fathered the tribes of Europe – the Iberians, the Basques, the Scythians, the Slavs and so on.
The story goes that Javan’s descendants became the Ionian Greeks. (Ask the ancient Ionians, and they would probably tell you they were descended from Apollo, through his son with Creüsa, a princess of Athens – Ion.)
Despite his history, Javan has never been a common choice. He does appear in census records from the late nineteenth century onward, but quite sparingly.
Since 1976, however, Javon has ranked in the US Top 1000, reaching#412 in 2007. Variants abound, including:
- Javion (#614)
- Jayvon (#950)
- Jayvion (#972)
- Javen (#977)
In addition, Javin Hunter played football for Notre Dame and the Baltimore Ravens.
While the Biblical Javan is probably best pronounced jah VON, the common sound for many of the related choices is either JAY vahn, jay VEE on or something similar.
Some parents might arrive at Javan courtesy of Katherine Kurtz, the fantasy author. Her character Javan Jashan Urien Haldane is the fourteenth King of Gwynedd. While Kurtz’ work is pure fiction, she’s well versed in all things medieval. Visit her official site and you’ll find a list of parents choosing baby names from her books. Sure enough, there’s a Javan.
Javan also tends to pop up on lists of angels’ names. (I’m not well-versed in angelology – if any one is, please feel free to add some details in a comment!) In the Book of Daniel, there is a reference to the prince of Javan, but that’s usually interpreted as a reference to Alexander the Great, King of Macedon – or Greece. Most agree that the prophecy comes from the angel Gabriel. In the Talmud, too, Javan is definitely associated with Greece.
On balance, there is certainly room to consider Javan – and perhaps even Javon and other variants – an underused Biblical choice. And, like Eben, he could satisfy parents divided between the traditional and the modern. But you’d have to be comfortable with the likelihood that few would recognize Javan’s roots.