Biblical Names and their Meaning

Biblical Names and their Meaning

By Apolinario Villalobos

When the Spaniards came to the shores of the Philippine archipelago, they found the early Filipinos using one name that described their quaint personalities, such as “Matapang” (brave), “Maganda” (beautiful), “Masipag” (industrious), “Mayumi” (modest), etc. This was also a practice of the people during the Biblical time. The following are some Biblical names and their corresponding meaning that might interest you:

Adam   – of the ground; taken out of the red earth; mankind

Eve      – life; living

Abel     – breath; shepherd; herdsman

Seth     – appointed; substituted (he was a “substitute” for Abel)

Abraham – the father is right

Sara/Sarah – princess

Moses – drawn out; born (he was drawn out of a river)

Isaac    – one laughs (before Isaac was conceived, Sarah laughed when she was told by an angel that she will bear a son, despite her old age)

Ishmael – God hears

Solomon – peaceable

Salome            – female name of Solomon

Jerusalem – city of peace; the city of God

David   – beloved; chieftain

Joseph – may God add

Bethlehem – house of bread

Paul     -little

Martha – mistress

Barak   – lightning

Samaria – watchtower

Samuel – name of God

Judah   – praised

Jacob   – supplanter

Joel      – Jehovah is God

Abigail – father is rejoicing

Anna    – grace

Alexander – man-defending

Jonathan – God has given

The above are the most familiar names that I have encountered in a Bible dictionary, salvaged from a heap of junked books in a sidewalk of Manila.

Ruth of the Bible…and her filial piety

Ruth of the Bible

…and her filial piety

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

A friend, who lives on the other side of world, Canada, and with whom I communicate only through the internet, unabashedly expressed her devotion to her departed husband whom she described with all words that were perhaps available in her mind while she was blogging the message for me. Another friend, posted on her timeline their faded nuptial photo with accompanying message that she will never change, short of saying, she will go on loving him, in a way… as if she was face to face with her husband. Another story is that of a former neighbor in Paranaque who worked as a beerhouse dancer in order to earn for the needs of her ailing mother-in-law, as her husband was killed in a traffic accident. She did not have even a single child by her husband, despite which, she persisted in taking care of her widowed, sickly and old mother-in-law. All of those made me try to recall a story in the Bible about a woman who practically founded her life on love and devotion. Finally, I remember the woman in the Bible …Ruth.

 

Ruth was a Moabite, a clan which God wanted eradicated from the face of the earth when He guided the Israelites to the Promised Land. But most importantly, Ruth’s blood flowed in the veins of Jesus Christ. Here’s why…tracing to Perez, who belonged to one of the tribes of Israel, thus, “Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David.” (Ruth 4: 18-22). Jesus Christ belongs to the House of David.

 

What I am trying to point out here is, despite Ruth’s being a pagan, she was so devoted to her mother-in-law, Naomi, that she stayed with her despite the tragedies the befell her. First to die was her husband, Elimelech, then her sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They belonged to the clan of Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah. The death of her two sons who married Moabite women triggered her decision to go back to Bethlehem, as they were living that time on the plateau of Moab. But the devotion of Ruth, one of the daughters-in- law to her mother-in-law was such that she did not abandon her. Instead, she did her best in showing how she was able to meld with the family of her husband.  Being pretty and young, she could have married again when her husband died. She felt that she was needed by her aging mother-in-law, so that she persisted in being with her despite her effort to practically drive her back to her own people.

 

Back in Bethlehem, Ruth showed her diligence, reaping grains in season, and fortunate enough to have done it in the fields of Boaz, the kin of her husband. By virtue of the Jews’ practices during that time on inheritance of properties, Boaz was able to marry her. And as the story went, she provided a link in the Redeemer’s lineage.

 

The world today is full of temptations. For the weak woman, succumbing to any of them could just be easy and most often is even made justifiable by loose alibis. Matrimony that requires not only devotion of the couple to each other, the in-laws, and later on, their own children could crumble easily in the face of temptations. Legal separations are rampant, paving the way for the eventual divorce for those who can afford it. This can happen if selfishness will prevail, add to that the call of the carnal desire. It needs therefore, an extraordinary emotional stability and spiritual strength for a woman to become another Ruth. Blessed, therefore, are those women who personify her in this world that throbs with sins. The greatest reward of Ruth for her filial piety is her being mentioned every time the lineage of Jesus Christ is traced back to His ancestors, this despite her being a pagan. Her story shows that one need be a professed Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., to become pious. Ironically, some non-believers are more pious in their acts than those who profess their strong attachment to established religions.

 

 

Appreciating the Bible and Other Books

Appreciating the Bible

And Other Books

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The first religious book I had was given to me as a prize for beating the rest of the contestants who were my senior in an extemporaneous writing contest in English. I was in first year high school and the book was the freshly circulated “Imitations of Christ”, which today is one of the best sellers. I just kept it, forgetting even the name of the author.  A friend borrowed it and decided to keep it for good. Then, a lay minister whom we fondly called, “papa Joe” gave me a King James Version Bible which he fondly marked with a dedication. It occupies a space together with the Koran, two other versions of the Bible, Apokalipses of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a book about mankind’s search for God.

 

When a friend saw my collection, he asked what I will do with them. Despite the silliness of the question, I told him that I need to know what I am supposed to know. He used to be a staunch Roman Catholic but when he joined the Masonic Temple, he seemed to have drifted away and sounded different. I told him that for me, all books contain information that everyone must learn, especially, those “special” ones that discourse on religion, cult, God, church, Christian movement, Marian devotion, archaeology, astronomy,etc. I could have told him more, but noticed his irritation. So I closed my statement with the short, “knowledge is power” with a tone of jest. I just did not want to embarrass him with a remark that he is the only “Mason” I know who does not believe in God. I pitied him for his choice to be ignorant.

 

Had not my curiosity made me interested in religious books, I may not have known that:

 

-the eldest son of Abraham was Ismael, and whose mother was Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah;

-in the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to always have a trowel as a household

tool so that they can use it to dig the ground when they move their bowel;

-in the Old Testament, one of the Lord’s instruction was not for the wife to join in a fight in which her husband figured, and most especially, not for her to grab the testicles of her husband’s foe as her effort to help her husband;

-in the New Testament, it says how Jesus lost his temper and cursed a fig that did not bear fruits that he could have eaten that day;

-in the New Testament, it says that the chosen people of God were also partaking of dried fish as a staple food;

-the legend of the flood was universal, meaning, practically, every race has a knowledge about it, but with their own different version;

-the “Mother and Child” devotion is not limited among the Catholics but also prevalent in other religions and cults;

-there is also universality in the belief about end of the world.

 

Those are just a few of what I have gained from browsing the pages of the books which others abhor because doing so would mean that they already “believe” in God or rather, develop in them an attachment to a religion, a church or worse, God. I cannot understand such attitude, because, how can you hate something that you do not understand well enough?

 

Going through the pages of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which is the basis of other religious books is like browsing through the pages of National Geographic. Its historicity interspersed with “legends” made it some sort of a mini-library. I have the same interest when browsing through the pages of other similar books. There is a popular allegation that getting seriously immersed in these books would result to confusion and eventually, alienation from God. It did not happen to me. In fact, it developed in me more respect for others who are so dedicated to their own kind of evangelism to the point of fanaticism. 

 

In the Philippines, despite the deeply- rooted Catholicism among the majority of the Filipinos, there is enough space left for ecumenism that is why, in every activity of the national government wherein there is a need for invocations, different religious sectors are represented. This atmosphere is a great consolation among Filipinos who have diversified culture, yet united in their view as a race about the universality of God.

Discipline

Discipline

By   Apolinario    Villalobos

 

Generally,   it    takes a   strong   will    power    before   we   can    take    control    of    ourselves    to    instill   even    a    grain   of   total    discipline   in   us.    Not    even    those    who  have    gone    through    strict    military    training can   proudly   declare    thatthey     are    well -disciplined. Even   canonized    saints    are   not   100%   disciplined   in   all    aspects    of    their    lives.    Not   even   Jesus   who  lost    his     temper      as     he cursed    a  poor   fig   tree    for   not   bearing   fruit,    and   let  out   his   pent    up    anger    when   he   drove   the“ sinners”away     from   the    temple.    This imperfection,   should   not    give    us    an   excuse    in   violating    the   rights    of   our    fellowmen   or   break    the   righteous   Law   again    and   again.

 

Unfortunately,   we   have   to   accept    the    fact    that    being   undisciplined    is   more    of    a        habit      than      anything      else.    Man    by    nature    is    prone    to   do   what     form    him      is      the     easiest      thing.   For    a    drug   addict,    chain    smoker    and   alcoholic,  for    instance,     it    is   better    to   go   on    with    those    vices    than    suffer    from    the    death-like    withdrawal   seizures.   A     person     who    loves     foods        would    rather    suffer    from   the   consequential    dialysis    and    chemo  or    radiation    therapies     later    on      than    put    a    stop       to        his    regular    uncontrolled      binges.     A     highly –  urbanized     person     who    looks    at    herbal    concoctions    as    strange,       unpalatable, colored    and   odorous     quack    remedies,    would   rather  fill    his    guts   with    synthetic     drugs     and    suffer     from    kidney,    heart, and    liver    failures    later   on    due    to        undigested chemicals    that     are     components    of    the    “medicines”     in    different     forms.

 

Parents    cry    their    hearts    out    for     their    “well-loved”    kids    who    are    languishing    in     drug   rehabilitation    centers    and    worse,   penitentiaries.    Tearfully,    they    ask    the   Lord,   where    they    have    gone   wrong.     Such    act    is    tantamount    to   passing    on    the   blame    to   Him,   because    these    “loving”    parents    have    never    missed    an   opportunity       tosmother        their   kids    with    things     that    would    satisfy    their    cravings    for    material comfort,    and     most     especially,      they      never      miss      a     single     day      of       worship     service     during      which      they        implore     Him     for     more     financial       security     for     the  sake      of     their      children     who     need     it.

 

If    we   have    to    go    back   to   the     stories    that    are    written    in    the    Bible,    the    loss    of    discipline    started    with    Adam     who    was    unable    to    restrain    himself    from   partaking    of   the   “fruit    ofknowledge”       that      Eve     offered       him,     who,    on    her    part,blamed    the   serpent,   and      eventually,     made     God     drive       the       three out    ofparadise. Currently,      We     have     this    kind     of     blaming      act  – in      “courts      of     justice”    and        legislative      houses         where      lawyers,    politicians,     and     government     officials      point     at    each     other     with    accusing     fingers     during     case     hearings.   

 

Today,  for  anything     unfortunate    that    befallsman,    he    is    ready    with    his    forefinger     to    point    at    something    or    somebody.    For    coming   in   late   to    work,       for     instance,       there’s    the   traffic,      not     the     waking    up     late;       for   falling    off    a    stair,    there’s    the   structural    defect    of    the    steps,     not     the      carelessness;    for    vehicular    accidents,     there’s      the    defective brake     mechanism,     not     the    drunk     driving;    for    failing    grades,    there’s    the   bitchy    teacher,       not      the     laziness     to     study     lessons;   for     the     flood     that     brings     back     garbage     to      streets      and     houses,       there’s     the     clogged     drainage     system,      not     unscrupulous      disposal  ;   even    for    calamity,    there’s    God,      not    the     systematic      devastation      of     nature  .      If    only    the    accusing    person  will        take    note    of    his    fingers    while       doing    the   act,    he   will    notice    that    while    pointing    the   lone   forefinger   to     somebody       or     something,    the   rest     of     the      fingers  –   middle,   ring   and   pinky     are   pointing    at    him    and    seemingly    restrained    by    his    thumb.

 

Belatedly,       we     realized    that    it   is    the    lack    of    discipline    that causes    most    of    our    sufferings.   Practically,     everyone    has    a    share    in    the    deterioration    of     our    so-called    habitat.     The    degree    of     our  participation    varies    according    to    the    intensity      of     our      selfishness    and    lack    of    concern.   Take    for    instance    the   unscrupulous     logging,     mining,    dynamite     fishing,    plundering    in   the   government,    accumulation of  garbage     in    city    waterways,    and     polluted    atmosphere.    Everything     boils    down    to    our    self-annihilation,    toward    which    even    innocent    lesser     creatures     are    dragged…

 

 

Francis and Jesus

Francis and Jesus
By Apolinario Villalobos

There is no better choice to head the Vatican of today than Francis in view of his radical effort in reforming the papacy. His refusal to live in the posh papal quarters more than symbolized his humility. In his simple ways, he sheds off the royal trapping that for him sets the pope apart from the people. His actions are always with implied reminder that in the eyes of God, everybody is equal. His stubbornness to project simplicity irritates some Roman Catholics, but for the rest, he is Jesus personified.

During the time of Jesus, the community he lived in was also beset with hypocrites who regard themselves as authorities on the Jewish traditions and the proper worship of God. This kind of “faithfuls” are still very much around, cloaked in different colorful uniforms of religiosities to distinguish them from the “sinners” . That is why, just like Jesus who practically resorted to almost any way possible to carry out his mission, Francis today, even mingle with the people in the Vatican’s square and “invaded” the social media to be able to reach out to those who decided to join other flocks, in an effort to bring them back to the fold of Universal faith.

Francis and Jesus did not promise anything with monetary value. Both just showed their real selves and dwell on the doable expectations of God from us. Just like Jesus who was pestered by his detractors who patiently waited for his missteps, Francis is being watched keenly not by those belonging to other denominations, but by Roman Catholics themselves who abhor reform. Criticisms about Francis are already coming out in the social media.

Those who belong to this generation should feel lucky for witnessing a radical religious reformation, the tableau being completed by different assemblages of fanatics who profess to be the real messiah. Aside from proving the truth in the adage, “history repeats itself”, those who read the Bible will also realize that the prophesy about the coming of false prophets is already happening.

A Lingering Question About Jesus

A  Lingering   Question  About Jesus

By   Apolinario  Villalobos

 

My  favorite  pages  of  the  Bible  are  those  about  the  Old  Testament  because  of  their  historical  content.    I  also  like  the  New  Testament  which  tackle  values ,  development  of  Christianity,  Jesus  and  His  works.  It’s  about  love  of  God,  love  of  fellowmen,  faith  in  God,  etc.,  that  need  to be  practiced,  an  expectation  that  unfortunately,  failed,  somehow.

 

There  is  just  one  question  about  Jesus  that  has been bugging  me – his genetic  lineage.  According to  prophesy,the  Messiah  shall   come   from  the  House   of  David.  Josephis only a  “foster”  father  of  Jesus.  So,  though,  Joseph  belonged  to  the  House   of   David,  Jesus,  genetically  does  not.   Jesus  was   broughtinto  the  world  through  virgin  birth,  that of  Mary.  But  Mary  does  not belong  to  the  House   of   David.  In  other  words,  Jesus  does  not  belong  to  the  House  of  David.   To  simplify  the explanation,  the  Vatican just   emphasized  the  whole  thing  as  a  miracle,  and  that,  Joseph  is  presented  as  the    “father”  of  Jesus,  to  complete  the  picture  of  the  Holy   Family.  For  the faithful,  no  question  should  be  asked  when  miracle  is  used  as an  explanation. 

 

In  the  first  place,  there  could  have  been  no  question  if   the  writer  of  the  particular   chapter  in the  Bible  dealing   on  the  prophesy   about   the   messiah,  just  espoused  the  miracle  of   the  virgin  birth   and  understated     his    coming  from  the  house  of  David.  The  faithful  I   suppose  are  willing  to accept  it   just  like  the rest   of   the  miracles.  It   seems  something   is  lacking  in  the  way  the  prophesy  has  been  written.   The  prophet  who   announced  the  coming  of  the messiah  should  know  about  it,  because  the message   came  from  the  all- knowing  God,  or  there  should  have  been  some  kind  of  a  “by   the  way”  about  the  messiah’s  adoption  by  a  foster  father.   In  my  simple   mind,  perhaps,  the  writer    mentioned   the  “House   of  David”  to  inject   an   image  of  royalty   to   the  messiah,  though,  born  in  a  manger  to  portrait  humility.  Such  an  implied  intention,  if  ever,  is  a  deceptive  ploy  of  the  writer  which  drained  down  to  the  Vatican  which  is  now  submerged  in  a thick  muck  of  controversies.