“I’m skeered for my life!” the trembling woman huffed and puffed to the peace officer. Laying a hand on his billy club, he said in an even voice, “Ma’am, I don’t see anyone.”
“Onliest reason ’cause my legs can still giddyup and go. She ain’t kilt me yet. But I tell ya, there’s murder in her heart! She pitched a hissy fit and spit out the awfulest names. She sez to me, ‘Ya nothin’ but a noun! Extra adjective! Lifeless adverb!'”
The skeletal version of this true anecdote was in an old book (title and author forgotten) that I read some forty years ago. If only that woman had comprehended the words cutting her to the quick were no more than innocuous names of parts of speech, she would not have tailspinned into a pit of anxiety. Her ignorance pushed her into the vise grip of a life-threatening fear.
More than likely, she would not have been scared to death if she had been called “Jezebel,” because she would have already understood the meaning within the name. For millenniums it has been a notorious byword for a depraved woman. Even those who do not know the specifics of this queen’s shameful behavior hear the name as connoting a woman of boundless wickedness. It’s not nice to be thought of as a Jezebel, but it’s not the blackest of all name-calling.
That would be “You Judas!” The betrayer of the Son of God–God Incarnate–Judas lives in infamy as the epitome of treacherous villainy. His name is heard universally as the symbol for traitors and turncoats bar none.
Names are potent. Knowledge of the meaning encapsulated in a name, or lack thereof, produces life-changing results. Take, for instance, Yahweh-Shammah (Jehovah-Shammah), one of God’s self-revealing compound names.