I was born David A. Hoover on January 10, 1960 in Bowling Green, Ohio. However, I legally changed my name to David Ben-Ariel (with the help of my Jewish attorney) during the spring of 1989. It cost me $300.00.

It also required me to take out a small ad in a newspaper announcing my intentions 30 days in advance. I placed my ad in the Bowling Green Sentinel.

I also had to go before a judge (depends on which county you were born in) to have my motivations privately questioned. My attorney assured him that he was not running from the law or trying to escape some outstanding debt, but rather that my reasons were religious in nature. The judge accepted that, but he wanted to impress on me that he might have “problems” with that name in the United States, without elaborating. I felt that he meant because he was Jewish and/or it might be hard for some to know how to pronounce it. I told him I wasn’t worried because I was planning to move to Israel anyway.

My reasons for changing my name were religious in nature. Because? Because I honestly feel like Ben-Ariel is a God given name. And why would I feel this way? Because after a Hebrew class where my teacher mentioned how many people change their names when they move to Israel, I went home wondering what last name I would have in Israel, knowing that my first name is already Hebrew.

I had always liked the Hebrew name of Ben-Ammi, after reading about it in Leon Uris’s book Exodus, since it means “son of my people”, but as I thought about it and wondered what name my father would have given me, if he had given me a Hebrew name, I didn’t know. I then knelt down in prayer and asked God what name, IF ANY, he would give me, since He is my Heavenly Father, and I couldn’t ask my dad because he died when I was twelve.

I was hoping that God might lead or guide or influence me to like a particular name, but immediately ARIEL popped into my mind and I immediately rejected it. Because? Because it means “the Lion of God” and I felt that name only belongs to Jesus Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. While wondering about Ariel’s name, I remembered that Israel’s defense minister was Ariel Sharon (whom I met in Jerusalem and Hebron). Reluctantly I decided to keep the name in reserve (as it really stuck with me!) until God or circumstances led me to accept another, and I went to bed.

The Bible mentions MANY INCIDENTS where God chose to change someone’s name or name them before their birth. It is unusual but it is not unbiblical. There were Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (Gen. 17:5, 15, 19); Ishmael (Gen. 16:11); Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:9) and Solomon’s nickname Jedidiah (2 Sam. 12:25); Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; 45:4); John the Baptist (Luke 1:13); Jesus (Matthew 1:21); Peter and the two brothers James and John, whom Jesus nicknamed “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:16-17); Just to name a few.

God promises to give each of us a new and unique name in the Kingdom, either in place of or in addition to our current one (Rev. 2:17), as well as to share the new name of Jesus and bear the name of the Father as King-Priests (Rev. 3:12, 14; Ex. 28:36; Lev. 8:9). God has many names, or titles, descriptive of his wonderful qualities and characteristics (Isaiah 9:6). The Jews even teach that the Hebrew name for God, Elohim (literally Gods), is plural due to the fact that God is too great to be limited to just one name, and is used in the actual sense of “us.” This is why Elohim said “let us…” We understand it is also because there are currently two Divine Beings in the one Kingdom of God, just as Adam and Eve were two separate persons who shared the last name Adam as a family unit (Gen. 2:24; 5:2; John 10:30).

God has his reasons why he would change someone’s name and who are we to question it? The April 1980 issue of good news magazine (published by the Worldwide Church of God) published an article called “Church History” that helps us understand why Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter: “…and gave him a prophetic surname of moral and spiritual strength that he would eventually demonstrate. Jesus bestowed the new name on him, before he had earned it, so that it might be an incentive to him to realize what Jesus had expected.”

After laying down, about to fall asleep, Isaiah 29:1 came to mind. The amazing thing is that he had never memorized that Scripture! Reveals that Ariel is a nickname for JERUSALEM! Now I understand why God the Father had chosen Ariel for me. Anyone who knows me knows that Jerusalem is always on my mind (Jeremiah 51:50), especially after my first visit there to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in 1980. God has shown me that He has awakened me and given me a burning desire for Jerusalem and Israel (Isaiah 62:1, 6-7). I finally realized that God was calling me “SON OF JERUSALEM”.

I got out of bed, got on my knees with tears in my eyes, and thanked God for truly knowing us inside and out, just as His Word says, and I embraced the new name God had given me! I also accepted it as a SPIRITUAL GOAL: to live worthy of one who bears the name of holy Jerusalem and all that he ideally represents.

I end my prayers in front of Jerusalem every night with Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Golden Jerusalem), a plea for Jerusalem to fulfill its call (2 Chronicles 6:38-39; Dan. 6:10). Later, I began to understand how Ariel can also refer to Judah and King David. Since my family tree goes back to both the British and Scottish royal families (the Royal House of David), it’s also appropriate that Ben-Ariel can mean “son of David” and “son of Judah” (whose tribal emblem is the lion).

I am convinced that the God of the Bible, the God of Israel and the God of my ancestor David, has blessed me with the name of Ariel. Even if I chose Ariel for myself, which I did not, originally opposed, there would be no harm in that, since such a practice is biblical: “One shall say, I am of the LORD; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand to the LORD, and shall be called by the name of Israel” (Isa. 44:5).

God gave me the last name Ariel back in 1982, however it wasn’t until 1989 that I finally legally changed my name. I knew that even though God had given me the name, he didn’t necessarily have to change my name. I was also hesitant to do so because I am the only son and the only Hoover males alive (that I know of) were my grandfather and myself. He did not want the name to die out, not that I am married and have children anyway (although God assures the “eunuchs” of him that excellent and everlasting names will be given to us-Isa. 56:5). I began to see that Hoover was possibly an anglicized form of the German Huber (since many immigrants changed their names upon arrival in the United States).

I also didn’t want to hurt or offend my grandfather (Arthur Hoover of Risingsun, Ohio) or possibly be disinherited, but I decided that since I was about to seek citizenship in Israel, beginning a new chapter in our family history, I was going to take the initiative and change my name. My grandfather ended up dying about four months before the event, not knowing what he planned to do. So now I’ve been David Ben-Ariel for years and my family and friends are used to it.

My God-given name is ESTABLISHED BEFORE GOD which mentions Jerusalem twice in it: the City of David and Ariel.

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