Could there really be an unusual Biblical girls’ name that starts with a J that hasn’t been used by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s mega-family?

Indeed there is! Thanks to Christina for suggesting Jerusha as Name of the Day.

Flip through your Old Testament to the Books of Kings, and you might just find yourself marveling at this interesting appellation. Jerusha was the wife of King Uzziah of Judah, daughter of Zadok and mother of Jotham. She’s a minor figure, but her name has enjoyed steady – if sparing – use.

The pronunciation is just what you’d expect: jeh ROO shah. Maybe it is the “oo” sound in the middle, but there’s something lively and spirited about this name. Most sites list her meaning as “possession,” but some translate it as “inheritance” or “married.” This might be one of those names where you need to overlook the translation in favor of the sound.

Jerusha boasts an intriguing history of use. Back in 1912, Jean Webster penned the novel Daddy Long-Legs and christened her heroine Jerusha Abbott. Her Jerusha was abandoned at an orphanage when just a babe, leaving the matron to pluck her last name from the phone book and her first name from a gravestone. Luck brings her an anonymous benefactor, and once she’s away at college, Jerusha goes by the nickname Judy.

The story has had a long run, adopted for stage and screen. Shirley Temple’s 1935 Curly Top was based on the tale – though Shirley’s character was called Elizabeth. Adaptations have even been made in Japan and, as recently as 2005, Korea.

The fictional character’s name might’ve come from a cemetery, but modern parents could spot Jerusha at the cinema. The creative filmmaker couple responsible for 2004’s surprise hit Napoleon Dynamite are Jared and Jerusha Hess, lending the name a quirky alterna-vibe.

Jerusha’s heyday was probably the nineteenth century or even a little earlier, when bearers of the name pop up in the historical record:

  • 19th century army Brigadier General Henry Burbeck was the son of William and Jerusha Burbeck of Boston;
  • Hyrum Smith, big brother to Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr., married Jerusha Barden. The name remains big in Mormon circles – Jerusha Hess is a Brigham Young alum;
  • US Congressman John Reuben Drake of New York also married a Jerusha – and they named their daughter Delphine;
  • Canadian merchant and politician Thomas Johnston married Jerusha Todd.

Earlier still, you might find Jerusha in a famous captivity narrative. Back in 1704, the settlement of Deerfield, Massachussetts was attacked by a party of French and Mohawks. Eunice Williams, the daughter of a local minister, was taken captive and eventually adopted by a group of Roman Catholic Mohawks living near Quebec. Among the Williams family members who did not survive the massacre was a baby sister called Jerusha.

A scattering of Jerushas appear in US Census records, along with a handful of women named Jerushah. In 1882, the name even ranked in the US Top 1000, at #968 – but never appeared again.

Overall, Jerusha is quite rare, and yet nicely wearable circa 2009. She’d fit right in with Hannah and Elijah, Isaac and Abigail.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I changed my name to this, before ever looking up its meaning.
    I understand it is a little burden to carry this name.
    So I start out by spelling it and pronouncing it. I point out that it sounds just like it is spelled. I repeat it as often as they like. They always compliment my name. I just say thank you. I try to put them at ease by telling them I usually like the mispronunciations (except for when they say Joshua).
    When they ask what it means (as is common), I just tell them it is Hebrew, that she was the mother of a king in the Old Testament, and that her son was one of the good kings in Israel.

  2. The Hebrew pronunciation is actually Yeh-roo-sha. It was originally spelt Yerusha, just the same as the original spelling of Jerusalem is Yerushalim. As far as I know, the spelling change came about because of the American standard bible translation, and then the king James version also followed suit. My parents say the name means inheritance of God.

  3. So many Jerusha’s out here and still cant find anything with my name on it unless its a special order i mean come on i want a keychain with my name on it

  4. hi to all the jerusha’s.
    am so happy that my parents named me jerusha.whenever my name is called out it turns many a heads .hope i live upto the good christian meaning of my name.god bless.

    it is extremely amazing to see how many other jerusha’s there are.
    I mean when you have such a unique name such as jerusha you feel like you are the only one with that name in the world.
    Despite it as you can see all of the girls with the name of jerusha have learned to love it despite the fact that every time you say your name someone screws it up or says huh.? like it is so foreign that you may be an alien.
    people call you things like jerusalem, jerushlem,jerisa,jerosa,jeroshua,jershua,josiah, jerisla, jerushala, terusha you name it we have probably been called it.
    but you really dont take any offense to it you kind of find it hlarious seeing how oblivious some people are to unique names its funny seeing peoples facial expressions they never get old.
    One day i just really hope that i can meet someone with the same name. 🙂
    i love my name and i wouldnt trade it for anything i think its quite lovely.
    oh and another meaning for the name is wedding dalry or however you spell it.
    meaning its the price the parents pay for them to be married its actually kind of cool. It kind of shows how much your parents love you and how much your parents think you are worth. the most expensive thing your parents can give up is you. SO i think its lucky to be named jerusha. 🙂