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Nowadays we name our children after characters in Tanakh and/or great tzaddikim. In Tanakh why weren't people named after the Avot, the Shevatim, Moshe Rabbeinu, etc?

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Numbers 13:7 – Double AA Jun 12 '14 at 5:23
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba 37:7) explains why in the times of Tanach, people would come up with "new" names based on events surrounding the birth, whereas nowadays we name people after the previous generations:

רבי יוסי אומר: הראשונים על ידי שהיו מכירים את ייחוסיהם היו מוציאין שמן לשם המאורע, אבל אנו שאין אנו מכירים את ייחוסינו, אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו. רבי שמעון בן גמליאל אומר: הראשונים על ידי שהיו משתמשין ברוח הקודש היו מוציאין לשם המאורע, אבל אנו שאין אנו משתמשין ברוח הקודש, אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו.

R' Yossi said: The ancients, since they knew their genealogy, named themselves in reference to the events. But we who do not know our genealogy name ourselves by our fathers. R' Shimon ben Gamliel said: The ancients, because they could make use of the Holy spirit, named themselves in reference to events; but we who cannot make use of the Holy spirit are named after our fathers.

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