The cute palindrome Ava is the name of an Assyrian city in the Bible. It also has a few different spellings, depending on the version you're using. The city of Ava is mentioned in 2 Kings 17:24. Ava also has separate Latin and Hebrew roots so I suspect that the many thousands of people who have used Ava recently didn't have the Assyrian city in mind.
Bethany is a cute name that has seen more popularity in the past, even making the top 100 in the 80s, but it's currently trending downward. The meaning I found for Bethany is "house of figs". Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, siblings who were all close friends of Jesus, lived in Bethany (John 11).
Moriah is one of my favorite bibilical place names. It is a region around modern-day Jerusalem and is mentioned in Genesis 22 as the place where the patriarch Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac (spoiler alert: he didn't hurt his son and all was well). It means, "the Lord will provide". Moriah with an o is the authentic biblical spelling but it is more commonly spelled like Mariah. I much prefer the biblical spelling.
Abilene, like many of the names on this list are also cities in the United States. There's a town named Abilene in Texas and it feels to closely associated with the Texas town for me personally to consider it. However, it might make a great Abigail alternative for some. You could still use the nickname Abby or you could even use Billie or Lena. The biblical place Abilene is mentioned only once in Luke 3:1.
Bethel is an important place in the Bible but it's been overlooked as a name. Bethel means "house of God". I think it's totally usable and I'm surprised that it didn't gain more popularity when the nickname Beth was more popular. You could also use the nickname Ellie. I think the main drawback to Bethel is that it seems to maybe be a popular name for hospitals...
Judy and Judith have been popular in the past (Judith is still in the top 1000), so why not Judea (pn. joo-DEE-uh or joo DAY-uh)? I think I like Judea better than either Judy and Judith. Judea was a region in southern Israel of which Jerusalem was a part. Judah is a derivative of Judah, which means praised.
Cana (pn. CAY-nuh) was the town where Jesus performed his first recorded miracle in the New Testament (John 2:1-12). I think it has a short and simple sound that I think could fit in well with modern names. I'd love to see this used more! Its Hebrew roots mean "to acquire or create" so maybe it would be a great name for a very creative person.
Philadelphia has American place name credit as well but the American Philadelphia is named after a city in Asia (or probably more specifically a church in that Asian city). The church at Philadelphia was mentioned in Revelation and is spoken favorably of. Philadelphia means "brotherly love" which is a great meaning. Philadelphia is kind of a mouth-full but there are some usable nicknames such as Philly, Del, Phia, etc. You could even use Pip or Pippa if you wanted to.
Tigris is the name of a river mentioned in the Bible. In fact, it was one of the four rivers that flowed through the garden of Eden (so maybe a good sister name for the popular name Eden?). It sounds feminine but poweful, somewhat due to it being a homophone to tigeress. .Tiggy is an obvious nickname but if that's not your style, you could also use Rissa.
Arimathea is the name of a town that mentioned in the Bible in connection to a man called Joseph of Arimathea, a Jewish leader who also believed in Christ. He was a rich man who buried Jesus's body in his own tomb. He rose from there three days later.
I came across this name just the other day. It's mentioned a few times in the Bible, once as a fortified city. I've really loved the name Zora on it's own or as a nickname for Aurora but this gives it a slightly different look. Zorah is gorgeous and has a lot of potential. However, it means "hornet" and its overall Hebrew root words are pretty negative, which for me is a huge drawback.
I saved my two favorites for last. In the Bible, Galilee was the region where Jesus grew up and did a lot of his public ministry. Galilee is a cute, spunky name for little girl. You could use the nicknames Gally, Lil, Lee, or the very popular Lily (Lilee). What surprised me was that the Spanish/Italian version Galilea is at #794 on the charts. I've toyed with the idea of using either Galilee or Galilea before. I think I would lean towards Galilea.
This name is currently on my list. There was a mountain called Olivet in the Bible where Jesus would often go to teach or to pray. Olivet fits in really well with popular names today (such as Olivia or Olive) but it is still outside the top 1000. If you love Olivia but you want something more original, you might consider Olivet. Olivet also comes with some great nicknames: Oli, Olive, Etta, Ettie, Vetta, or my favorites, Liv and Livy.
Jericho was a biblical city that originally belonged to the Canaanites but was conquered by Israel. It means "city of the moon". Jericho entered the top 1000 in 2013 as one of the fastest rising names. There are a few possible nicknames for Jericho but I think it's much cooler in its entirety.
Judah is another popular place name. It too was the name of a person before it was a place. Technically, any of the names of the tribes of Israel are place names but when the nation of Israel split in two, the southern two tribes became the nation of Judah. Judah means "praised". The short form Jude is in the top 100.
Canaan is an uncommon biblical name with great modern potential. Canaan is the name of the promised land in the Bible (later renamed Israel). However, the Canaanites who lived there were wicked people so that creates some conflicting feeling about this name. All in all, I think it's useable and the promised land association wins out for me.
This is a biblical place name that I've been fond of for awhile. I really like the sound! Hebron is mentioned many times in the Bible, but one of the first times it is mentioned is when it was given to Caleb as his inheritance. A fun fact about Hebron is it still exists today and it is known as the oldest Jewish community in the world, dating back to Biblical times. There are also two men in the Bible named Hebron. The word in Hebrew means "to bind"or "to join".
Gilead is a name with everything going for it! It has a great sound, a great meaning ("hill of testimony"), and a great association. The association that comes to mind for Gilead is a healing one, as in "the balm of Gilead". The balm of Gilead is a perfume that was used medicinally. The region of Gilead was a mountainous place in modern-day Jordan. Gilead has great potential as a name today, especially with the cute nickname Gil.
Jordan, #53 (b) #206 (g)
Zion, #236 (b) #820 (g)
Zion is a Hebrew name meaning "highest point". It is used in the Bible as a poetic name for Jerusalem. There are many references to Zion in the Bible and I think Psalm 132:13 is a really nice one. When I first heard of Zion being used as a name, especially as a unisex name, I did not care for it at all. Over the last several months, though, it's grown on me. I still don't know if I prefer it on a boy or a girl though. Maybe if I met a Zion it would help me decide.
Shiloh, #633 (g) NR (b)
Shiloh is an amazing Hebrew name that means "peace". It was the religious capital of Israel until David set up the capital in Jerusalem. There is also a prophecy about Shiloh made in Genesis that refers to Jesus. I can't believe this name has taken off for girls and not for boys! I'm sure it has to do with the fact that Brangelina used Shiloh for their daughter but I absolutely adore Shiloh as a boys name! It's pretty as a girls name but I much prefer it for a boy.
Jerusalem is a bit of a mouthful but if you want to get straight to the point and name your child after the most important city in Israel, then Jerusalem's for you. It either means "possesion of peace" or "foundation of peace". You could make some cute nicknames from Jerusalem, such as Jeri, Rue, or Sal. Jerusalem is mentioned in many, many verses in the Bible but I think I like 1 Kings 11:36 is my favorite.
Tabor is an intriguing name that means "height" or "encampment" in Hebrew. It is a mountain mentioned in the book of Judges. It reminds me a lot of the popular unisex name Taylor. If I had to choose, I'd probably use this for a girl with the nickname Tab.
Nazareth is an interesting Hebrew name meaning "watch tower". This is, of course, the town where Jesus grew up, fulfilling a prophecy that he would be called a Nazarene (which might also make a nice name for girl). People didn't think highly of this town in Bible times but its connection to Jesus might make some consider using this name. This is another name that I'm having trouble deciding if I like it better for a boy or a girl. There's an awesome male comedian named Nazareth (he was born in the city of Nazareth in Israel) but I can still see it on a girl, probably because of the -eth ending which reminds me of Beth. The nickname Naz sounds masculine but for a girl you could use Zara. Ret is another nickname option that could be used by either gender. I think Nazareth would be really cool in the middle name spot.
Whew! That's a lot of names! Some of them are so wonderful! My favorites are Moriah, Galilee (Galilea), Olivet, Jericho, Gilead, Hebron, and Shiloh! I hope you enjoyed it and God bless!
Which biblical place names do you like? Did I miss any good ones? Let me know in the comments!