Golomb’s Gambits: Biblical J-Names
February 28, 2011 |  by Solomon Golomb

The letter yod begins many names in the Hebrew Bible, and most of these start with the letter J in English translations of the Old Testament. (A few begin with I, e.g., Isaac, Isaiah, Ishmael, and Israel; and at least one, Ezekiel, begins with E.)

Here are the names, as usually spelled in English with J, of 18 biblical men, divided into three groups based on level of difficulty. See how many you can match up with the correct descriptions.

Check your answers

A. Easy

1. Jacob
2. Job
3. Jonah
4. Joseph
5. Joshua
6. Judah

a. He was ultimately rewarded after years of terrible suffering.
b. He led the children of Israel after the death of Moses.
c. Sold by his brothers, he rose to become viceroy of Egypt.
d. Son of Isaac, he married both Leah and Rachel.
e. Son of Jacob, his descendants included King David.
f. Thrown overboard, he went on to prophesy the end of Nineveh.

B. Medium

7. Jeroboam
8. Jeremiah
9. Jesse
10. Jethro
11. Joab
12. Joel

g. He was the chief general under King David.
h. He was Moses’ father-in-law.
i. He was King David’s father.
j. After the death of King Solomon, this man led the breakaway of Israel’s 10 northern tribes.
k. He prophesied around the time Babylon conquered Jerusalem.
l. He was the prophet who recommended beating plowshares into swords.

C. Difficult

13. Jabin
14. Jehoiada
15. Jehu
16. Jephthah
17. Josiah
18. Jotham

m. After victory over the Ammonites, he had to sacrifice his daughter.
n. He was a Canaanite king whose army was defeated by Deborah and Barak.
o. He was the charioteer who ended the dynasty of Omri and Ahab.
p. As a Judean king, he centralized all worship in Jerusalem.
q. He was the priest who arranged the end of the wicked Judean queen Athaliah.
r. Son of Gideon, he told a parable about trees choosing a king.