Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) is one of the most famous books ever written. It’s from this book that the modern search engine “Yahoo!” gets its name. David Filo, one of the originators of “Yahoo!” used to be called a “yahoo” by his girlfriend. In Louisiana, as in other places, the name means “wild” and “uncouth”. It comes from Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels where Gulliver encounters a wild and irrational human-like species. Swift calls these beasts “hnea yahoo”. Irving Rothman, a professor at the University of Houston, has decoded this nonsense phrase as Hebrew!

According to Rothman, the word “yahoo” is an English rendering of the Hebrew name of God and the word “hnea” is Hebrew for “lacking in”. So the wild animals of Gulliver’s Travels are “lacking in God”, whereas Gulliver’s full name is “Lemuel Gulliver” with “Lemuel” in Hebrew meaning “devoted to God”.

The theory is not far-fetched. After all, Jonathan Swift was an Anglican minister who knew Hebrew. Do Gulliver’s travels represent, on some level, the “wandering Jew” — “devoted to God” — facing danger among “yahoos”, when he is exiled from the Promised Land? Is there an underlying Hebrew code in Gulliver’s Travels?

The decoding is just beginning. See: