Today I learned that an awful lot of people have convinced themselves that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. Someone wrote in with a question about this based on an e-mail he had received. To see how widespread this bizarre idea has become, just do a google search on the terms barack lightning anti-christ.
Here’s how it works: Luke 10:18 reads as follows (KJV):
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning [GR astrapE] fall from heaven.
People have noticed that the Hebrew word for lightning can be represented as barak, and thus see the name Barack [IE Obama] as being the Hebrew word for “lightning,” and thus implicate Barack in this passage as standing for the Anti-Christ. I had never heard this before today, but it is a widely held belief.
It is also, of course, completely wrong. Let’s put aside the fact that lightning is being used as a simile here (does all lightning represent Satan?). The name Barack does not mean lightning.
The Hebrew word for lightning, baraq, derives from the Semitic root *BRQ (to flash, gleam). The given name Barack is not Hebrew, but ultimately derives from Arabic, which is also a Semitic language. But the name derives from a different Semitic root, *BRK (to kneel, bless), and means something like “blessing, blessed.” It is related to the Arabic name Mubarak (as in Hosni Mubarak), where the initial m- is a participial formation. The Hebrew equivalent would be the common name Baruch “blessed.” So no, the name Barack doesn’t mean “lightning,” and no, Barack Obama is not the Anti-Christ.
But in explaining this to my querist, I also pointed out that there is a connection between the name Barack and Joseph Smith. Those of you over a certain age will remember that the D&C used to have code names for various church leaders. Joseph was Baurak Ale. This name is Joseph’s representation (using the Sephardic transliteration system JS learned from Joshua Seixas in the Kirtland Hebrew school) of the biblical name Barachel, the father of Elihu in Job 32:2. The name means something like “El doth bless,” “God blesses,” or “Whom God blesses.” And the Baurak in Baurak Ale does derive from the same Semitic root as the name Barack.
So perhaps rather than seeing Barack as the Anti-Christ, we should instead view him as the One Mighty and Strong.
[For an absolutely hilarious attempt to interpret the name Baurak Ale, go to this article and do a search on the name and then read for about three paragraphs.]