About Names: Levi’s genes can be traced to the Bible and denim

Levi Strauss button

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 26th column, he looks at the history of the name Levi.

The first Levi was Jacob and Leah’s third son in the Bible’s book of Genesis. At his birth, Leah says “Now my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Hebrew “lawah” means “joined.” Levi’s descendants became priests and attendants at Jerusalem’s temple.

Before the Reformation, Levi was only used by Jews. Then some Protestant parents took it up. Unlike other Old Testament names such as Abraham and Joshua, Levi didn’t become generally popular in England, appealing only to more radical Puritans. Britain’s 1851 census found 4,727 Levis. In the 1850 United States census (when the nations had about the same population), there were 36,624, most descendants of New England Puritans living in the North.

Modern Levis now gaining fame include Levi Leipheimer (born 1973), the U.S. national champion road racing cyclist in 1999 and 2007, and Levi LaVallee (1982), winner of seven gold medals in snowmobile racing at the Winter X games between 2004 and 2014.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Levis in history!