Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Urijah
Urijah is an alternate spelling of Uriah which is a masculine name borne from the Bible. It’s Hebrew in origin from ‘Uriyah (אוּרִיָה) meaning “Yahweh is my light”; however, Uriah’s story in the Old Testament does not exactly cast King David in the most favorable of lights. In fact, Uriah is the innocent victim of King David’s duplicity (2 Samuel 11-12). The double-crossing and treacherous sin committed against Uriah is probably the biggest mar on King David’s résumé and his ultimate undoing. But then again, David was getting a little big for his own britches; he who ascends the highest, falls the hardest, as they say. Israel’s trusted men were away at war, including David’s loyal soldier Uriah. King David, however, remained home in the comforts of his palace. It was from the roof of his palace that he gazes upon a beautiful woman bathing in her yard. Now this was not just any ordinary rubber-ducky bath; it was an ancient ritual bath women took right after menstruation (so David knows she isn’t pregnant). He later discovers the woman’s name (Bathsheba) and her marital status (Uriah’s wife). What does David do? He invites Bathsheba to his private quarters, probably offers her a little Courvoisier and turns on his “Ladies-Man” charm. He is the King of course, so we can hardly blame Bathsheba. This indiscretion belongs more to David as he breaks four of the Ten Commandments. First he covets his neighbor’s wife, then he commits adultery, and thirdly he lies to cover it up (we’ll get to the fourth sin in a second). Turns out Bathsheba gets pregnant after their little rendezvous and David panics. He cleverly comes up with a plan: he calls Uriah back from the battlefield and instructs him to “go down to your house and wash your feet” (2 Samuel 11:8). Huh? Wash his feet? In Biblical speak this basically means “go home and have sex with your wife”. Get it? David wants Uriah to assume the forthcoming baby is his own (and not David’s) and the only way to accomplish this deceit is to get Uriah to “lie” with his own wife. What David doesn’t expect is that Uriah refuses. He simply will not engage in earthly pleasures while his fellow soldiers are fighting for the ark and Israel (putting the interest of God before his king). Suffice it to say that Uriah wasn’t raised in a barn and (unlike David) shows righteous comportment in the face of selfish desires. David reverts to Plan B and tries to get Uriah drunk and lustful. This too fails. Plan C is where we get to the fourth sinful act committed by David: murder. Desperate to cover up his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, David instructs his army commander to put Uriah on the front lines during battle, and then have the rest of the soldiers retreat, thus leaving Uriah alone and defenseless. The final plan works, and Uriah is killed. Don’t worry – David gets his own comeuppance. But in the meantime, Uriah is remembered as a righteous man who refused to offend the word of God. He stands as a moral juxtaposition to the bad behavior of David. Yahweh was indeed the light of Uriah. His charming name has recently been rediscovered as a masculine given name loaded with Biblical significance. Yes, it’s obscure, but Uriah is a true original. The spelling of Urijah is even more rare.