Should that be Baruch Obama?


By Simon Rocker
December 1, 2008
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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.

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joemillis

Mon, 12/01/2008 - 17:43

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Given that Barack's pater was a Muslim, it is likely that the name derives from the Arabic "buraq", the winged creature that carried Muhammad from Mecca to the furthest mosque (ie, al-Aqsa). And yes, it also means "Lightning" in Arabic.

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