🔼The name Barjona: Summary
- Son Of Jonah, Constant Source Of Irritation
- From (1) the noun בר (bar), one of, and (2) the name Jonah.
🔼The name Barjona in the Bible
The name Barjona occurs one time in the Bible, and it appears to be Peter's surname (Matthew 16:17). But it may also be a nickname because Jesus uses it to address Simon, to whom Jesus gave the nickname Peter (meaning pebble, not rock).
🔼Etymology of the name Barjona
The Aramaic noun בר (bar) is cognate with the Hebrew noun בן (ben) and both mean "one of," i.e. one of a certain house, one of a certain profession, one of a certain country, and so on. These nouns are also the regular words for "son."
The second part of the name Barjona probably comes from the Hebrew name יונה (Jonah) — meaning that Peter's father may have been called Jonah. The name Jonah comes from the root group יון (ywn):
Assumed root יון (ywn) yields the noun יון (yawen), meaning mire or swampy, boggy ground. Mire's signature failure to provide secure footing is often used proverbially. Note that in the Bible dry land often signifies factual and consensual certainty, whereas water (seas and rivers) denote liquidity, growth and potential. This is why in the Bible the great cultures are always associated with their respective great rivers.
From the same or identical second root יון (ywn) comes noun יונה (yona), meaning dove. In the Bible the dove serves both as a symbol of weakness or indecisiveness, and of vast abundance (as well as being the bodily form of the Holy Spirit). Apparently, in antiquity doves were everywhere. They were recognized to show no resolute dedication to an ecological niche (like, say, the eagle), and to flutter about in uncertain circles, much unlike the straight paths of, say, ravens. Ravens are associated with hearing and doves with sight. The Greek word for dove is περιστερα (peristera), of which element περι (peri) indeed describes both a broad circle and ubiquity.
Curiously similar to the word for dove, the verb ינה (yana) means to do someone wrong or to oppress or vex someone. Perhaps the two have nothing to do with each other but where the great leaps are most celebrated, it's the little irritations in life that provoke the most massive progress. Or in other words: for every one brilliantly engineered iPhone there are hundreds of staples, paperclips and rubber bands that tie much more of life together.
The noun יין (yayan) is of unclear pedigree but is obviously similar to the previous. It means wine; either simply fermented grape juice or mankind's culture at large, seeing that in the Bible humanity's cultural world is often depicted as a vineyard: many separate grapes make much liquid wine, and many separate minds make much liquid culture.
The Holy Spirit's appearance in the form of a dove appears to indicate that the Holy Spirit does not show up in great force but rather in weakness, not in great resolve but rather in having no clue, and not in some esoteric secret but rather in every day's most unassuming conundrum.
Note that the name Peter does not mean rock (as per popular belief) but rather stone or wobbly pebble. Peter's last name too subscribes to the notion that the full body of the knowledge of Christ comes not from an oligarchy of geniuses in some central stronghold somewhere, but rather from the whole world-wide Diaspora of seekers and from every little effort of all common you-and-me's.
But then, perhaps Jesus gave Peter the name Barjona as a pun, as the name Jonah bears a striking resemblance to the verb ינה (yana), meaning to oppress, vex or do wrong. After all, just half a dozen verses after Jesus called Peter Barjona, he called him satan (Matthew 16:23).
Barjona may simply mean Son Of Jonah, but perhaps it means Son Of The Dove, and perhaps it means Son Of The Vexer literally and simply Vexer by implication.