This Jewish and Russian surname of BYBEE was a surname chosen as a symbol of exile, originally derived from the Hebrew Bavel Babylon. The Jewish people were held in captivity in Babylon from 597 to about 538 BC. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. The name is also popular in France, from a medieval given name bestowed in honour of St. Babylas, a 3rd century Christian patriarch of Antoich. His name is of uncertain origin, possibly an ethnic name ultimately derived from the city of Babylon. The name has many variant spellings which include BAVEL, BABLI, BAVLI, BAVLY BABEAU and BABELET. A notable member of the name was Isaac Emmanuilovich BABEL (l894-l94l). He was a Russian short story writer born in the Jewish ghetto of Odessa. He worked as a journalist in St. Peterburg, and served in the Tsar's army on the Romanian front. He was exiled to Siberia in the mid l930's and died there in l94l. Russian surnames are almost exclusively patronymic (occasionally metronymic) in form, usually ending in 'ov' or 'ev'. Habitation and topographic names are rare, and many common Russian surnames are polygenetic, and their literal meaning is clear, even though the reason for their adoption may not be. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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