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Yael: I'd like to know the significance of my name, Yael.

  

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Rabbi Dov Schochet: Welcome... What's on your mind today?

Yael: I'd like to know the significance of my name, Yael. A rabbi gave me this name not long ago; he said that it was similar to my secular name.

Rabbi Dov Schochet: I see... Good choice, it's a very nice name!

Rabbi Dov Schochet: The word “Yael” means a wild goat.

Rabbi Dov Schochet: Yael is also a quite famous Biblical personality. Were you aware of that? One of the great battles in Jewish history was won through the heroic act of a woman named Yael.

Yael: Can you tell me more? This is very interesting :)

Rabbi Dov Schochet: The entire story is recorded in the Book of Judges. Hold it one moment I'll find the exact chapter.

Yael: Sure. Take your time.

Rabbi Dov Schochet: Okay. It's chapter four.  In short: there was a war between Sisera, general of the armies of Canaan and the Jews, who were lead by Deborah the Prophetess and Barak.

Rabbi Dov Schochet: As Sisera was fleeing the battlefield, closely chased by the victorious Jewish army, he entered Yael's tent. She gave the weary man food and drink and as soon as he fell asleep she killed him, ensuring the Jewish victory. 

Yael: Thanks a lot.

Rabbi Dov Schochet: You are most welcome.

Yael: Bye. Thank you.

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.

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COMMENTS

Story about Yael as pertaining to the question about the meaning of the same name

Posted by: William, Savannah, GA on Apr 20, 2005

I believe, if I am correct, that in killing the enemies leader, she did not just kill him using conventional methods (i.e. a knife or poison) but rather she actually used one of the pegs of the tents and drove the peg through his head.

The meaning of Yael

Posted by: Oren, Jerusalem, Israel on Aug 10, 2005

If i'm not mistaken, a Yael in hebrew is not a wild goat, but rather a variety of deer, and a very graceful one at that...

Editor's Comment

Perhaps in modern Hebrew Yael a different meaning than the Biblical word.

Was trying to figure it out for a long time

Posted by: Yael Greenberg, Tel Aviv, Israel on Mar 14, 2006

whether Yael is a goat or a deer. I saw it in the zoo (and I doubt that Yael looked any different in the Biblical times or that then it was a deer and now it's a goat) and it looked less graceful than in the pictures from nature.

Israelis tend to think that Yael is a beautiful animal. I am not a zoologist but I tend to think that deer and goats belong to the same family anyway and there's not much to argue about here. Nevertheless, I prefer that my name means a graceful deer than I wild goat...


It's an ibex

Posted by: Yael Greenberg, NY on Jul 31, 2006

Funny to meet another Yael Greenberg. The name means ibex, which is a mountain goat. It's not quite as pretty as a deer but I've seen them in action in the Judean desert and they are very graceful. And the males have cool horns as well. In fact, there are a lot of shofarot made from karnei yael.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Birth » Jewish names
Life Cycle » Circumcision » Jewish names

Canaan
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."