From the classic James to 80s fave Jason to the trendy Jayden, the most frequently heard boys’ names start with J. So does today’s choice – but this one is a rarity.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Name of the Day: Jubal.
Jubal has an inviting musical meaning. Crack open your Bible to the Book of Genesis, and there he is -history’s first musician. All those who play the lyre, harp and the flute are in his debt, as legend has it that he invented them.
Some contend that Jubal comes from the Hebrew yabal, or stream. Others cite a more appropriately musical meaning. Jubal could also link to a term – yobhel – for the blast from a ram’s horn, an early instrument.
While either attribution is pleasant, it hasn’t been enough to make Jubal among the popular J- names. He’s never ranked in the US top 1000. In fact, he’s been used so sparingly that we can cite virtually every use here. Besides the Biblical music man, we find:
- Unrepentant Civil War General Jubal Anderson Early. He fled the US when the Confederacy surrendered, briefly living abroad in Cuba and Canada, and later wrote his memoirs before returning to his Virginia home. While his writings serve as an important part of the historical record, he apparently never fully accepted that the South had lost.
- The historical figure inspired at least two fictional bearers of the name. The first is a bounty hunter on cult favorite Firefly. That Jubal Early has the distinction of uttering the very last words on the last episode of the show.
- Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land featured Jubal Harshaw. He’s not terribly inspiring to parents, either.
- On the silver screen we find Jubal, a 1956 Western. Glenn Ford played Jubal. It wasn’t much of a hit, but you might find it on AMC some night. This character was inspired by the Biblical figure.
A few other Jubals appear in the US census records, but it never took off.
Today the name feels a little bit Southern-fried, but overall quite jaunty. It’s pronounced JOO bahl, a simple enough sound. In fact, jubilee traces its roots to the same word.
Still, this one might be too unusual for a first name. Musical parents might consider tucking Jubal in the middle spot, just like Christina Aguilera’s Max Liron. It’s a more inventive way to get the middle initial J. than Joseph.