To say that her name is unusual is a bit of an understatement. For one thing, my computer doesn’t recognize it as a properly spelled word. Also, I’ve only known one other Tirzah, and that was 10 years ago. I have heard of others, but I’ve only met two, including mine. Tirzah is a name that Jess and I have wanted for a daughter ever since we knew we wanted to be married. It’s not only beautiful, it also has a strong Biblical base, which is why we chose it.
The beauty and background also happen to be the two things most people seem unsure of. The two questions we have gotten most over the last two days are “how do you pronounce her name?” and “where does it come from?” I want to answer those two questions here.
How do you pronounce her name?
That’s easy: Teer-Zuh
Not exactly pretty when you see it like that, is it? That’s probably why it’s spelled “Tirzah.” I’m sure that our little girl is going to get all kinds of misspellings and pronunciations, including “Tizrah” and “Ter-zuh”, but people get names wrong all the time. I’m not going to name my kids based on other peoples observation and pronunciation skills.
Where does it come from?
When we started talking about names for our kids, we decided that we wanted them to have biblical first names and family middle names, hence our boy, Caleb Thomas. We also believe that a name says a lot about who the person is, so we wanted to be purposeful about the names we chose from Scripture. What’s interesting about the name Tirzah (which means “she is my delight”) is that it shows up quite a few times in the Bible, has a great story to it, is uniquely beautiful, but is relatively unused. Here are the two ways that the name Tirzah is found in Scripture:
Zelophehad was a member of the tribe of Manasseh during the Exodus. He had 5 daughters (Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah) and no sons. Upon his death, the girls boldly went before Moses and asked if they could inherit his land that they may continue to live. I say “boldly” because a woman inheriting land from her father was unheard of in ancient times, but they acted in faith in order to preserve their father’s name, asking Moses, “Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? (Num 27:4)”
God honored their request and told Moses to put forth a decree saying that every man who has no sons will pass his inheritance to his daughters as the first option, before other male members of his family. And think about this, the entire generation of people who came out of Egypt died before entering the Promised Land. This means that every daughter who had no brothers inherited her father’s land. The daughters of Israel received their father’s inheritance as sons. If that seems familiar, it’s because Paul uses those words when he talks about our adoption into the family of God. Romans 8:15-17 says this:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The story of Tirzah and her sisters is a picture of what God has made available in Christ. He died to pay for our sins that we might be adopted as sons of God. Notice that it doesn’t say “sons and daughters”, because the inheritance that we receive in Christ is that of a son, the full and complete inheritance from the Father. Tirzah and her sisters received the very same inheritance, as if they were sons. Their inheritance, however, was just a shadow of the glory that we will receive as sons of God, for Romans 8 says that we are fellow heirs with Christ which means that we receive all that He has, the full glory of perfection and union with God forever!
2. Tirzah, the city of beauty
Tirzah was also an ancient city in the Old Testament. It shows up first in Joshua 12 and 11 times in 1 and 2 Kings. The last time it appears is Song of Solomon 6:4, which says:
You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awesome as an army with banners.
There is not much description in the Bible about the city, but we do know a bit about it historically. Tirzah was a city known for its beauty, it sat atop a hill and shown like a beacon during the day because of the way that it reflected the light of the sun. If you know anything about the Song of Solomon, you know that Solomon does not use frivolous imagery when describing his bride. For him to compare her to the beauty of Tirzah is indicative of the matchless beauty of that city.
So, for the boldness and beauty that the name of Tirzah represents in Scripture, we have chosen it for our daughter. Our prayer for her is that she would possess that same boldness in faith, and the beauty that Peter talks about in 1 Peter 3:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.