Our Hazel Sue is here and we are over the moon in love! I wanted to write about why we chose the name Hazel since a few people have asked if it came from an ancestor (it doesn’t).
Ryan and I talked about baby names far before we ever got pregnant. We didn’t discuss it at length, but we knew the names we both agreed on. It wasn’t until we knew we were having a girl that the name Hazel came up. I am very passionate about choosing a name that has a thoughtful meaning, especially if it has Biblical meaning. I liked the name Hazel enough by itself since it’s unique yet classic. Slightly disappointed that most name books just said that the name Hazel refers to the tree and has English heritage but after I did a little digging, I found an alternative of meaning of Hazel in the Bible that I fell in love with and became a big part of the reason why we chose to name our daughter this beautiful name.
The Biblical Meaning of the Name Hazel
The name Hazel is a derivative of the Hebrew name Hazā’ēl meaning “God has seen”.
Hazael (/ˈheɪziəl/; Hebrew: חֲזָאֵל or חֲזָהאֵל, Modern: Ḥaza’ēl, Tiberian: H̱azā’ēl; Aramaic: חזאל, from the triliteral Semitic root h-z-y, “to see”; his full name meaning, “El/God has seen“
There are only a few places where this phrase of “God sees” is used in the Bible, God’s Hebrew name El Roi, and that is in the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.
During the two and a half years we struggled to get pregnant, I found a lot of inspiration from the stories of barren women in the Bible. I connected with Sarah because of her struggle to have a child but as I read through the whole story, Hagar’s struggle resonated with me and her story made me fall even more in love with the name Hazel.
Hagar — Genesis 16
The specific story I am referring to can be found in Genesis 16. Hagar finds out she was pregnant and because of rising contention between her and her mistress Sarah, Hagar flees to her homeland (Genesis 16:6). This was a dangerous thing for a woman to do. She could have been taken captive and being pregnant, she could have lost her baby from the rigors of traveling. Plus, having escaped probably in the night, she would have had few supplies. She made it to a fountain of water in the wilderness and sat down exhausted. Hagar probably felt alone, neglected, overlooked, and used. Hagar knew about Abraham and Sarah’s God and must have wondered if He knew or cared about her and her situation. She most likely felt abandoned by everyone.
God Knows Your Name
But an angel of God seeks her out, finds her, and talks to her. It says so in verse 7, “And the angel of the Lord found her by the fountain of water.” (Genesis 16:7). God finds her and the very first word this angel says (acting as God Himself) is “Hagar” (Genesis 16:8). God not only knows her (the lowest in society – a young woman Egyptian slave), but He knows her name.
Hagar Gives God a Name
God gives her instructions — to go back to her mistress — and tells her she will bear a son. His name will become Ishmael, which means “God hears“, “because the Lord heard thy affliction” (Genesis 16:11). She returns back to Abraham’s household, finding strength in knowing that God hears and sees her. Hagar calls out the name of Lord that spake unto her and says El Roi (Hebrew: אל ראי), “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13). She says, Have I also in this place looked at him that seeth me? Meaning, I saw the One who sees me.
Hagar felt seen and known—which is all anyone really wants. It gave her the courage to face her dire circumstances with the confidence that God was with her, watching over her, never going to let her go.
She declares “this place” sacred and names the nearby well Beer-lahai-roi, which means “the well of Him who liveth and seeth me“. A God who lives and sees me. So powerful. But it doesn’t end there.
After she had her son Ishmael and she was forced to leave once more, she again wandered in the wilderness. This part of the story is in Genesis 21:9-20. When all their water was gone, she placed Ishmael under a bush and pled with God to not have to watch her son die. Talk about feeling abandoned, neglected, and alone all over again! When she was at her lowest point of despair and misery, she “sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept” (Genesis 21: 16). The angel of the Lord again calls out her name, tells her to fear not and that God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Then God shows her a well of water to save her son and strengthen her for their journey back to Ishamel’s father Abraham. Again, the Lord reminds Hagar the amazing promises he will give to her son and her posterity.
The God who hears me.
A tiny tangent, but I love that in Genesis 16:11 where it says, “because the Lord hath heard thy affliction”. Not her prayer, but God heard her affliction. When we were in year two of fertility treatments, I stopped praying for a child. It was always in my heart but I thought, “why keep praying for it?” But God heard my affliction and responded in such personal and meaningful ways.
Because God is so good, He mirrors this listening love again to Hagar in Genesis 21:17: “And God heard the voice of the lad…for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is“. Before she had her son, God mentions that He heard Hagar’s affliction. Now, as a new mother, I am positive she felt reassured and loved when the angel told her that the Lord heard not only heard her weeping cries but specifically her teenage son Ishmael’s prayers. (We can estimate that Ishmael was around 14-19 since Abraham was 86 when he was born and then 100 when Isaac came).
The God who sees me.
God has demonstrated to me again and again in my life that He sees me. I have felt validated and seen by the One who loves me unconditionally. T
The story of Hagar is so encouraging for those who are suffering and feel God has abandoned them. He has not forgotten you. He sees you.
My little Hazel’s middle name Sue is my middle name as well as my mother’s and I can’t think of a better example of someone who makes people feel seen and loved than my mom.
We are so grateful for our little Hazel Sue and I hope we can raise her to help others feel God’s love for them too!
[2022: The more I study Hagar’s seen story, the more I love it. Updates to give more personal biblical insight have been added to this post and I wanted to share current photos of our sweet Hazel who is now 3. She radiates light and has such a zest for life. She has a gift of seeing others who are sad and empathizing with them — even as a 1-year-old, she would lay down next to a playmate who was feeling down and make sure they were okay. Now she is an older sister and she is his little mini mama who ensures he is seen and gets his fair share of treats and neck tickles. We sure love our little Hazel!]
If you enjoy reading birth stories, you can find Hazel’s here and my son James’ here. I shared my experience with miscarriage here. If you are interested in learning more about Biblical stories, about Jesus, and His gospel, I recommend going to comeuntochrist.org.
Another thing I highly recommend is watching the show The Chosen. The video below is a part of the Christmas special they made and the very first monologue from this clip is about this name: Adonai El-Roi.
A Biblical Dive into the Meaning of the Name James
Hazel Name Gifts
Know a Hazel? Gift her with one of these cute gifts just for her!