Looking for a Biblical pick that’s less common than Hannah, but more accessible than Zipporah?
Thanks to Julie for suggesting Keziah as Name of the Day.
Remember Cassia from Monday? Keziah is her Hebrew equivalent, one of the long-suffering Job’s daughters in the Old Testament.
Job actually had three girls, born as a blessing after his sufferings – besides middle child Keziah, there was big sis Jemima and little sis Keren-Happuch. Because all three sisters received an inheritance from dad, some think of the phrase “Job’s daughters” as signifying equality between genders.
Just like Cassia, Keziah means cinnamon – or, technically, cinnamon-ish. (Cassia is actually a separate herb.)
Also like Cassia, she has multiple possible pronunciations. But while most make Cassia a two-syllable name, the three-syllable keh ZEE ah is probably closest to correct in this case.
It’s far more difficult to pin down Keziah’s spelling. You’ll also find Kezia, Ketzia and Ketziah. Like many an obscure Biblical moniker, she was in vogue from the 1700s onward.
This lends Keziah a certain colonial cool. She appears on the list of colonial names for girls over at Nameberry, along with other Biblical rarities and virtue names. She’s the perfect sister for Selah or Patience.
There’s a royal and a presidential twist to this name, too. Kezia Obama was the first wife of Barack Obama, Sr. (And mom to our 44th president’s half-brother, Malik.) Then there’s the twentieth century Princess Kezia of Toro, later the Queen. (Yes, Toro is a lawnmower. Turns out it is also a traditional kingdom within modern day Uganda. Who knew?)
Keziah has never ranked in the US Top 1000, but a related name has fared well in recent years. Contracted, two-syllable form Keshia or Keisha became a popular choice for African American parents in the 1970s. Keisha, the most common spelling, ranked from 1967 through 1998. The elaboration Lakeisha also appeared in the Top 1000 from 1972 until 1993.
Two young actresses wear the name:
- Keshia Knight-Pullman rocketed to fame as Rudy, the youngest of The Cosby Show’s Huxtable clan. The name rose with her;
- Then there’s Oscar-nominated child actress Keisha Castle-Hughes. The New Zealander is now semi-retired from acting and mom to Felicity-Amore.
But most Keishas are twenty-something, if not thirty-something. Today, she sounds rather dated. (Even masculine variant Keyshawn is on the decline.0
There’s also Kizzy, a diminutive for all the Keziah-related names. Alex Haley used the name for a character in Roots. Kizzy debuting at a dizzying #223 in 1977, but was out of the US Top 1000 by 1979. Today, with the Roots reference far less familiar, she sounds too lightweight to stand on her own.
Which brings us back to Keziah. Closer to her original form, she sounds unexpected and intriguing. Job’s daughters were considered virtuous and lovely – there’s no downside to this Biblical pick. Besides Kizzy, Kes could serve as an appealing short form.
If Old Testament names are your style, she’s certainly one to consider.