In this question, I refer to "לקרוא לו/לה" as "calling and to "לקרוא שם" as naming.

Regarding the names in Tanach I've found three patterns:

  1. A person is "born" with his/her name, not called or named, like in "וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן" or "וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־חֲנוֹךְ" or "וַיְחִי־שֵׁת חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־אֱנוֹשׁ׃" and many many like this - just name.

  2. Somebody is called but not given a name (just לקרוא לו), like in "לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה כִּי מֵאִישׁ לֻקֳחָה־זֹּאת׃" or "וְאָבִיו קָרָא־לוֹ בִנְיָמִין"

  3. Somebody is given a name (קרא שם) as in " וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת׃" or "וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ בֶּן־אוֹנִי" or "וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁם אִשְׁתּוֹ חַוָּה"

Interestingly these patterns apply not only to people but to other things like: "וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לַיַּבָּשָׁה אֶרֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵה הַמַּיִם קָרָא יַמִּים" ,"עַל־כֵּן קָרָא לַבְּאֵר בְּאֵר לַחַי" or "וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הָעִיר כְּשֵׁם בְּנוֹ חֲנוֹךְ׃" or "וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא־לוֹ הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמוֹ׃"

What are the differences in those patterns that the Torah uses in different cases? וַיֵּדַע אָדָם עוֹד אֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת

  • A שם usually refers to something’s essence. I wonder if ויקרא שמו means that it reflects their essence, while ויקרא לו just refers to what people call them. In your two examples, Chavah’s “true” name was Chavah, but Adam at first just called her “woman.” Likewise, Binyamin was originally called “Ben Oni,” and Yaakov renamed him (which leads to a really intriguing conclusion in the latter case). I don’t know how the first case fits into this, and also צריך עיון whether this pattern extends to all such examples. – DonielF Mar 14 at 21:52
  • "The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes.'..." – msh210 Mar 14 at 23:41
  • @DonielF I was also into Kabbalah until got to שם העיר חנוך - the true essence of a town? How long do we have to try to find the logic and "hidden wisdom" until we give up and conclude "דברה התורה בלשון בני אדם" - i.g. "don't pay attention, it's accidental"? – Al Berko Mar 15 at 10:37
  • @AlBerko Cities are often named after important events - consider ירושלים, or באר שבע. I think it does work a little differently than names of people, animals, and objects, but the general principle is the same. – DonielF Mar 15 at 13:58

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