Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 26th column, he looks at the history of the name Seth.
Seth is the English form of Shet, Hebrew for “appointed.” In the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Seth is Adam and Eve’s third son, born after oldest brother Cain kills second brother Abel. That’s about all Genesis says. Later legends say Seth journeys to Paradise, where he sees a vision of the future newborn Jesus. Seth writes a book describing the star foretelling the baby’s birth. Centuries later, this guides the wise men to Bethlehem.
These legends were featured in “Cursor Mundi,” a poem written in northern England around 1300. Perhaps that’s why Seth was used by several prominent Yorkshire families by 1450, a century before the Reformation created a general fashion for Old Testament names.
When Social Security’s yearly baby name lists started in 1880, Seth ranked 349th. Like most Old Testament names, it then declined, bottoming out at 907th in 1930. Seth then rose, booming in the 1970s to a plateau at around No. 100 between 1979 and 1997. Pop culture doesn’t seem to have had a big influence, even though its first peak, at 89th in 1987, was helped by the 1986 horror film “The Fly,” in which scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) turns into an insect.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Seths in history!