"Some recite verses pertaining to their names at this point. See page 400."On page 400-02 we see a list of such verses (102 in total), and the explanation that
"Kitzur Shelah teaches that it is a source of merit to recite a scriptural verse symbolizing one's name before יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן at the end of Shemoneh Esrei. The verse should either contain the person's name or else begin and end with the first and last letters of the name."Many people who may not know the precise sort of "merit" this is a source of, might have heard that something more is going on; that a person will be asked their name by an angel after they die, and saying these verses every day helps them remember it. Some may have even heard more, but the preceding was as far as it went in my childhood, and I don't think it was ever revisited.
On pp. 33-34 of the 4th edition of The Obligations of Christians to Attempt the Conversion of the Jews (London 1813) we read:
As you can see, this says that an angel is supposed to come and knock upon the coffin, crying at the dead 'Wicked! Wicked! What is thy name? Where is thy name recorded in the scriptures?" If the deceased cannot recite his verse, the angel beats him with a hot iron, breaking his bones. The writer of this passage tries to show that Jews believe that women have no souls, and as proof, that there are no verses for their name - even though the Jews deny that they believe that women have no souls. Actually, some old machzorim do have verses for women's names - but the one's I've seen are probably 75-100 years later than this.
Elsewhere in this very book, the author writes "It is supposed that above 400 Jewish females are the victims of ignorance and vice, wandering about the streets of London to gain a precarious and miserable livelihood by the wages of prostitution." He footnotes that the blame for this must surely be "that the Rabbies teach, that previous to marriage, females have nothing to do with religion or the observation of any of the commandments; and after marriage, have only to observe three. viz. first, her purification; second, to bless the sabbath bread, viz. to take a small piece of dough, repeat a prayer over it, and throw it into the fire; and, third, to light the candles on the eve of the sabbath, or of any holiday, and repeat a prayer whilst doing it, duly observing these three, she is in a state of safety." He then quotes the Mishnah "Shelosha mitvot nashim metzuvim" and "al shalosh averot nashim metot beshe'at ledatan."
Getting back to the iron rods, this is more than a source of merit. What is he talking about? Since Artscroll refers to the Kitzur Shelah - which may or may not be the actual first source for these name verses - let us look at the Kitzur Shelah. The edition this is from is Amsterdam 1701, which is the second or third:
At the very end, in the section called Tikkun Chibut Hakever, Rabbi Mikhl Epstein writes: "It is known what is written above in Massekhet Gehennom, and also in the Sefer Kavvanot, regarding Chibut Hakever; the wicked do not know their name in the grave, and are subjected to cruel beatings. Whoever recites, while alive, every day a verse that begins with the letter of his own name, and ends with the letter by which his name ends, specifically regarding the name which he is called to the Torah, his Shem Kodesh. In other words, one who is known as Isaac, but is called to the Torah as Yitzhak, needs to begin with a verse starting with yud and ending with quf. Certainly one whose name is contained in a verse, such as Shalom or Dan or Reuven, doesn't need a verse which ends as his name does. Whoever recites a verse like this, it is a segulah that he not forget his name. In Sefer Ben Zion is printed the names of people, so I said to myself, I'll print it here to benefit the public. One should say it in the Shemoneh Esrei prior to Yihyu Le-ratzon, at the end of the prayer.
As you can see, he actually gives his own source, the Sefer Ben Zion. Thus, the Kitzur Shelah, while much more influential than the Sefer Ben Zion, is perhaps the source for the custom gaining such traction, but is not the source at all. Before I get to Ben Zion, here is something concerning this Massekhet Gehennom, and Chibut Hakever. There are numerous sources, but the one I'd like to show is from the Tishbi of Elijah Bachur:
Chibut Hakever. It is is written in the midrash of Rabbi Isaac ben Parnach that students of Rabbi Eliezer asked him regarding the judgment of Chibut Hakever. Said he to them, when a person is removed from the world, and angel comes and sits on his grave. Immediately his soul reenters his body and he stands upon his feet. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi added, and in his hand is a chain, half fire and half ice, and he is hit; the first time, his limbs are broken. The second time, his bones are broken. Angels come and gather and beat him a third time, until he is pulverized to dust, and then he is returned to the grave, etc. Rabbi Meir added, the judgment of Chibut Hakever is worse than the judgment of Gehennom, for even complete Zaddikim, and nursing babies, and even stillbirths, are judged - apart for one who died on Erev Shabbath, or one who is buried in the land of Israel.This is actually excerpted from the much longer Massekhet Gehennom, which happens to mention the angel's request for the name, but gives no solution. "A source of merit" is quite the understatement!
The Sefer Ben Zion, mentioned by the Kitzur Shelah, was published in Amsterdam in 1690, and it has the following:
As you can see, the author cites Sefer Kavvanat ha-Ari, quoting the Zohar, that everyone ought to honor their name, and recall it every day by reciting a verse that is appropriate for it, a verse corresponding to the beginning and end of the name. I am somewhat sure that no one has succeeded in locating what he refers to. He gives the explanation about Chibut Hakever, and explains that a person's name, while given by their parents, actually corresponds to a heavenly name, inscribed on God's throne, and it is God who inspires the parents to name their child. It is for this reason that a person's name, which is known and used in heaven, is so important.
He continues, citing a siddur by a R. Hirz, that gives a verse in this manner, for his name Naftali. Therefore, writes the author, he selected verses from the Bible for a selection of Jewish names, and printed them here. A facsimile of the R. Hirz siddur's title page can be found in this very good article on the subject by Shmuel Krauss (link).
I've heard some rumblings about whether or not the Kitzur Shelah was first published in 1683 or 1693; the issue focuses on how to add up the chronogram on the title page. The correct date is 1693, and here is proof: the Kitzur Shelah himself cited a book printed in 1690. In any case, you can see that the lists are not identical. For your edification, I have compared them.
Sefer Ben Zion has Elyakim, Gavriel, Mahshava, Amram, Azariah, Shneor and Shabbetai, which the Kitzur Shelah do not have. He also includes a verse for tet (but no name examples) which KS does not. Likewise, the Ben Zion also does not include the names Ithamar, Asher, Avigdor, Avner, Gad and perhaps a few more, which KS did list. Here is the KS's list:
Eliezer, Ithamar, Asher, Avigdor, Avner
Yoel, Yekutiel, Yerachmiel, Yechiel
Nahman, Nissan, Natan
Shelomo, Simha, Shemaya, Shemarya