Most Hebrew personal names in the Bible are compounds which begin or end with the divine name Yahweh, such as Jehoshaphat, ‘Yahweh establishes justice’, or Joel, ‘Yahweh is God’. Many names of towns and villages were also compounds with the name of God—Beth‐el, ‘house of God’—or compounded with the place's reputation—Beth‐lehem ‘house of food’. Some places preserved their ancient Canaanite name (e.g. Megiddo; Zech. 12: 11), while others were changed by new rulers, as when Herod renamed Samaria as Sebaste. The forms ‐iah and Jo‐ are derived from the divine name Yahweh; and it would seem that at Deut. 12: 5 and Isa. 30: 27 the ‘name’ stands for the presence of the Lord himself.

Some personal names are changed, showing the authority of the one who effects the change: Jacob to Israel (Gen. 32: 28), Simon to Peter (Mark 3: 16). The latter was an unexpected change and it indicated that the very human Simon was to be a ‘rock’, for Peter = Cephas, Aramaic for ‘rock’, and under this new name he takes his place in history.