I think Nachshon will have to be my Hebrew name.

Legend has it that Nachshon waded into the Red Sea, all the way up to his nose, before Moses parted the waters. If you (as I do) read water as symbolizing unfiltered, undifferentiated, unarticulated, unsettled, primordial chaos and the process of understanding as a dividing, navigating, moving process this is a highly charged-up symbol. Also in this story Nachshon demonstrates the admirable quality of “going first” — a Jewish virtue I want to cultivate.

I love the etymology, too. says that Nachshon means “snakebird”. A synthesis of the highest-flying and lowest-crawling animal, who can float on the surface of the water! That is symbolically irresistible. The snakebird is the magenta (a hybrid of the two opposite extremes of the spectrum, the highest and lowest visible frequencies) of the animal kingdom. In fact, now I have to draw a magenta snakebird.

Another site associates the name with snakes and heretical practices like divination and reading omens, and given my own mildly heretical tendencies, that’s not entirely unappealing.

Then there’s a connection to “stormy sea waves” which I just wrote about last week.

Plus, the name has a letter shin right in the middle, and I love the way that letter looks.

Just look: Nachshon is a good-looking, good-sounding word. Where do I get one of these patches?

Too many perfect connections.


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