By Simon Rocker
December 1, 2008
There has been a lot of web-chatter about the origins of US President-Elect Barack Obama’s first name(the name, too, of his Kenyan father). The favoured explanation among online etymologists is that it comes from the Arabic-derived Swahili word, baraka, meaning “blessing”, akin to berachah in Hebrew. More far-fetched is that it is somehow related to Barak, meaning lightning in Hebrew, the name of the Canaanite-smiting commander who delivered the goods for the prophetess Deborah in the Book of Judges.