Jacob Laurence

Born 11 days ago, Jacob is happy and healthy as is his (sleep-deprived) mother. A picture of him in the hospital is available here for a few more days.

We chose the name Jacob because we like names with religious roots and I prefer names with Book of Mormon roots. Thus our first two children are Samuel and Sariah. Jacob in the Bible is a central figure, but I admit to being more interested in Jacob in the Book of Mormon. He comes across as a man of both deep spiritual understanding and compassion. He reminds me, actually, of Neal Maxwell (Maxwell was another contender, but lost out for, among other things, the double MM’s). Neal Maxwell knew and loved the gospel deeply, saw it clearly, and studied it intensely, but when he died, the tributes I read centered on how kind he was to those around him.

As it happens, Elder Maxwell often cited Jacob. While 8% of General Conference Book of Mormon citations are from Elder Maxwell, 20% of Jacob citations are from him. His second most cited passage, which he cited in 18 of his conference talks, was Jacob 4:13:

“Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.”

Welcome, Jacob! May you also be a witness of things as they really are.

16 comments for “Jacob Laurence

  1. Frank: Great name choice. We also named our son after the Book of Mormon Jacob rather than the biblical Jacob.

  2. Congrats, Frank!

    Does anyone know what the etymology of the name “Jacob” (Hebrew Ya’akob) is? I suspect that “holder of the heel” is simply a popular etymology deriving from Gen. 25:26. One suggestion I’ve seen is that the name means “he whom God protects,” from a Semitic root *akab*, but I have no way to evaluate that suggestion. I fear that the origin of the name may just be obscure.

    The name “Jacob” of course makes an appearance in different dress in the NT as the English form “James,” which arises by a convoluted linguistic process, to wit:

    Hebrew Ya’akob
    Greek IakObos
    Latin Iacobus
    Late Latin Iacomus,
    which splinters into various names in the romance languages, such as Italian Giacomo and Spanish Jaime, and becomes English James.

    Irish Seamus is the Gaelic form of James, and so really is the same name as Jacob!

    Joseph Smith in the KFD famously commented on the unfortunate linguistic distance that arose between the names Jacob and James:

    I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek languages. I have been reading the German, and find it to be the most [nearly] correct translation, and to correspond nearest to the revelations which God has given to me for the last fourteen years. It tells about Jacobus, the son of Zebedee. It means Jacob. In the English New Testament it is translated James. Now, if Jacob had the keys, you might talk about James through all eternity and never get the keys. In the 21st. of the fourth chapter of Matthew, my old German edition gives the word Jacob instead of James.

    The doctors (I mean doctors of law, not physic) say, “If you preach anything not according to the Bible, we will cry treason.” How can we escape the damnation of hell, except God be with us and reveal to us? Men bind us with chains. The Latin says Jacobus, which means Jacob; the Hebrew says Jacob, the Greek says Jacob and the German says Jacob, here we have the testimony of four against one. I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments. Come here, ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word rosh—the head, the Father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.

  3. Here’s what the NET says about the meaning of the name:

    The name Jacob is a play on the Hebrew word for “heel� (עָקֵב, ’aqev). The name (since it is a verb) probably means something like “may he protect,� that is, as a rearguard, dogging the heels.

  4. Congratulations Frank! (and family) on your beautiful son — my Jacob has the same birthday as yours!

  5. Congratulations and great choice of names. Our little Hannah was born 20 days ago. Unfortnately, one cannot turn to the Book of Mormon for a wide choice of feminine names.

  6. Congratulations Frank.

    Kevin, most Hebrew definitions I’ve read for Jacob say “heel-catcher” or “supplanter”. You explained the heel-catcher, but what’s the story with “supplanter”?

  7. I’m not sure where “supplanter” comes from, other than the circumstance that Jacob supplanted Esau.

    Now that I’m home I can look at my Hebrew lexicon (BDB). There is a Babylonian proper name Ya’kubilu, which leads scholars to hypothesize that Jacob is a hypocoristic (or shortened) form from a full theophoric Ya’akebiel (or something like that; the vowels are a little bit hypothetical), which would then mean something like “he who is protected by God” (or more literally “he who is followed closely at his heels by God”).

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