Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
What’s in a Name?
I need to preface this study with a few comments. There is much debate over the Yahshua’s name; whether it is YAHshua or YEHshua, or “even “Jesus” as a Greek
translation of Yahshua. There are several organizations that even make and teach doctrine based on their interpretation of His name. I am providing a few perspectives on this subject, the final decision of which is left to you. I caution you that whatever opinion you choose to take, you are careful in teaching others. There are some things in scripture that we cannot yet prove without a doubt and will not be able to until Yahshua’s return. I do know for certain that Yahshua was and is a
Jew and was given a Jewish name; NOT a Greek translation of a Jewish name.
I hope you find this teaching thought-provoking and something on which you
explore further for your own spiritual growth.
Text: Matthew 1:21 (JNT)
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yahshua, [which means ‘G-d saves’] because he will save his people from their sins.” (JNT)
According to Dr. Stern (Jewish New Testament) this verse is an example of “Semitism” (an allusion to Hebrew or Aramaic) brought over literally into the Greek text. There are several extra biblical proofs from ancient leaders and historians of the “church” that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew as they had personally read or consulted these manuscripts before the advent of the Greek text from which our English translations are acquired. The above verse lends credence to their statements for only in Hebrew or Aramaic does Yahshua’s name make any sense: in Greek or English it explains nothing.
In Hebrew Yahshua is spelled yud-shin-vav-‘ayin. “He will save” is “yohia’” (yud-shin-ayin) which shares the same root as Yahshua’s name. Hebrew names reflect the essence of something or someone, and we see from the root of the Messiah’s name that essence of Who He is, He will save, for both words share the same root. Yahshua identified as part of the complex unity of G-d in Hebrew means “G-d (YHVH) Saves,” so we are faced with an anomaly. Who saves, G-d (YHVH) or Yahshua? The only possible reconciliation of these two terms is that YHVH is Yahshua. We find this paradox in other scriptures.
The name Yahshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua’ (English “Joshua”) and that name in Hebrew means G-d (YHVH) Saves.
In modern Hebrew Yahshua is usually called Yeshu (yud-shin-vav) without an ayin’. This rendition cannot be correct because it does not carry all the root letters in Yoshia.’
David Flusser, author and professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Shmuel Safrai, both Orthodox Jews, write that the name Yeshu and Yeshua came about because of the particular way Galilean Jews pronounced it in the first century. The Jews of Galil did not pronounce the ‘ayin.at the end of the word. Instead of saying Yahshua they said Yeh shoo. They had a different dialect than those in Judea.
In Jewish anti-Christian and now anti-Messianic movements it is customary not to use Yahshua’s correct name, but to intentionally distort Hs name into an acronym “Yeshu” (Yeshua) that means Yimach sh’mo v’zikhro (may his name and memory be blotted out). This is a result of the verse in Torah (Ex. 3:13) that states, “You shall not pronounce the names of their gods.” This is why I do not use Yeshu or Yehshua. However, one may reinterpret the acronym above to praise Yahshua, “Yitgadol sh’mo umalkhuto!” (May his name and kingdom be magnified).
Following this analogy, we use the name Yahshua (G-d saves) and not Yeshua.
What Difference Does It Make?
What difference does it make, anyway, what language the Messiah and His disciples spoke? The answer becomes clear when we realize that there are churches, sects and cults today which make a great issue over the subject of “holy names.” These organizations will not use ANY name for Messiah Yahshua except what they deem as the ONLY correct name, no matter what the language. There are even divisions among believers resulting from arguments concerning which is the correct Hebrew pronunciation!
Critics of the Greek language as the original text of the New Testament is a cause of great concern. They claim Greek itself is another pagan language, and that such terms as Iesous translated “Jesus,” actually meaning “dawn deity god” and Theos translated “God” are also pagan names and must not be used. They claim that a vast, overriding “conspiracy” in the first century destroyed all the “missing” Hebrew original documents, and that the New Testament we have today is essentially a forgery — at least where the names of the Messiah are involved.
Back to Language Basics
There is a Greek translation for Messiah that is for some “unknown reason” not used. As the Rosh Rebbe taught, this unknown reason was an agenda by the Church to replace Yahshua’s “Jewishness” with a Greek “likeness; a name more palatable to those who would later become Christians and integrate other pagan practices into the new religion. The translation of the Hebrew word Mašíaḥ as Χριστός (Khristós) in the Greek Septuagint became the accepted Christian designation and title of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the idea of Yahshua as The Messiah may or may not have been fully understood. Yahshua, Sh’aul as G-d’s designated apostle to the Gentiles, and the other teachers of Messianic Judaism would have understood this difficulty by the general population. This is evidenced by many of the details taught in the New Testament with a majority Gentile audience who spoke Greek. Isaiah refers to a spiritual Messiah who we know is Yahshua and is accepted by Christianity as The Messiah. Why would this be an issue? Because there were others described as messiahs in the Bible. In a larger context, a messiah is a savior or liberator of a group of people. In the Hebrew Bible, a messiah (or mashiach ) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil However, messiahs were not only Jewish, as the Hebrew Bible refers to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. “This prophet, Cyrus, through whom were to be redeemed His chosen people, whom He would glorify before all the world, was the promised Messiah, “the Shepherd of Yhvh” (xliv. 28, xlv. 1).” Messiah (Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ, Modern Mashiaẖ Tiberian Māšîăḥ; in modern Jewish texts in English spelled Mashiach; Aramaic: משיחא, Greek: Μεσσίας, Latin: (Messias) literally means “anointed one”. In Hebrew, the Messiah is often referred to as מלך המשיח (Meleḵ ha-Mašīaḥ in the The Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament renders all thirty-nine instances of the Hebrew word for “anointed” (Mašíaḥ) as Χριστός (Khristós). The New Testament records the Greek transliteration Μεσσίας, Messias twice in John; 1:41. 4:25.
Why would the disciples not have used Yahshua’s name in the original writings, even in Greek? I will address the question of the language of the New Testament next week.
The evidence that Messiah’s name was originally correctly written in the Greek texts is supported by the fact that there are several mistranslations of original words in the manuscripts. One example is the word “church. In at least two contexts that word is not in the original manuscripts. “Church is used to replace the word “ecclesia” which means “called out ones” or “assembly.” The word ecclesia was used in the original texts referring to those called out into Messianic Judaism as taught by Yahshua, Sh’aul (Paul), the disciples, and others taught by them. In another context, the word “Church” is used to replace Israel as the Bride of “Christ.” This is but one of many examples of church replacement theology that is indeed an agenda of the church.
The Septuagint, from the Latin word septuaginta (meaning seventy), is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek. The title and its Roman numeral acronym LXX refer to the legendary seventy Jewish scholars who completed the translation as early as the late 2nd century BCE. As the primary Greek translation of the Old, it is also called the Greek Old Testament (Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα). This translation is quoted in the New Testament particularly in the Pauline epistles and also by the Apostolic Fathers and later Greek Church Fathers.
The tradition teaches that Ptolemy II sponsored the translation for use by the many Alexandrian Jews who were not fluent in Hebrew but fluent in Koine Greek, which was the lingua franca of Alexandria, Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE until the development of Byzantine Greek around 600 CE. A lingua franca also called a bridge language, or vehicular language, is a language systematically (as opposed to occasionally, or casually) used to make communication possible between persons not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.
Lingua francas (lingue franche) have arisen around the globe throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called “trade languages”) but also for diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities. This explains why Sha’ul would have used Koine Greek in his letters.
So the remaining question is: Why would the 70 Jewish scholars use any name other than Yahshua for the Messiah in the translation of the Old Testament or Sha’ul use any other name than Yahshua even though the scriptures of the New Testament were written in Greek?
Perhaps we can draw a link between the Septuagint and the New Testament that will explain. Perhaps the Greek translation was one of a necessary convenience for Sha’ul and one of ignorance for the 70 Jewish scholars.
We must keep in mind that the 70 scholars who first translated the Old Testament did not know Yahshua as the Messiah. Therefore, they could not have written “Yahshua,” “Yeshua”, or “Jesus” in any language. They only knew of a Messiah. The Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament renders all thirty-nine instances of the Hebrew word for “anointed” (Mašíaḥ) as Χριστός (Khristós). The New Testament records the Greek transliteration Μεσσίας, Messias twice in John; 1:41. 4:25. Therefore, there was a proper name for Messiah in Greek.
So how did we arrive at the name of “Jesus” and why was “Yahshua” not used in the New Testament? The information below provides an explanation that further supports the use of Koine Greek as the original text of the New Testament I will discuss next week and an explanation of the use of “Jesus” versus “Yahshua”:
A typical biological Jew in Yahshua’s time had only one name, sometimes supplemented with the father’s name or the individual’s hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Yahshua is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 26:71), “Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22), and “Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth” (John 1:45). However, in Mark 6:3, rather than being called the son of Joseph, he is referred to as “the son of Mary and brother of James and Josef and Judas and Simon”.
The name Jesus is derived from the Latin Iesus, a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iesous). Recall that transliteration is a process whereby the transliterator strives to keep the characters of the original language in the transliteration of the new language. The Greek form is a rendition of the Aramic ישוע (Yahshua), which is derived from the Hebrew יהושע (Yehoshua or Y’hoshua). The name Yehshua appears to have been in use in Judea at the time of the birth of Yahshua. The first-century works of historian Flavius Josephus (who wrote in Koine Greek, the same language as that of the New Testament) refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus (i.e. Ἰησοῦς). The etymology of Jesus’ name in the context of the New Testament is generally given as “YHVH is salvation”.
Since early Christianity, Christians have commonly referred to Jesus as “Jesus Christ”. The word Christ is derived from the Greek Χριστός (Christos), which is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Masiah), meaning the “anointed” and usually transliterated into English as “Messiah”. In postbiblical usage, Christ became viewed as a name—one part of “Jesus Christ”—but originally it was a title. The term.
By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint had already transliterated ישוע Yeshua` into Koine Greek as closely as possible in the 3rd-century BCE, the result being Ἰησοῦς Iēsous. Since Greek had no equivalent to the semitic letter ש shin [sh], it was replaced with a σ sigma [s], and a masculine singular ending [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic Yehoshua, Y’hoshua` or Yeshua`/Yahshua would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [`], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek. The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.
From Greek, Ἰησοῦς Iēsous moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina (Biblical texts written in Old Latin). The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς Iēsous was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Lower case letters were developed around 800 and sometime later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I. Similarly, Greek minuscules (lower case letters) were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in Capital letters: ΙΗCΟΥC or abbreviated as: ΙΗC with a line over the top, see also Christogram.
Modern English Jesus derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from ‘I’ by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.
From the Latin, the English language takes the forms “Jesus” (from the nominative form), and “Jesu” (from the vocative and oblique forms). “Jesus” is the predominantly used form, while “Jesu” lingers in some more archaic texts.
Peter wrote that the word of God “liveth and abideth forever” (I Pet.1:23). The word of God, which He inspired to be preserved, is in all essential and crucial respects, inspired and correctly preserved, to all generations. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of G-d, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” II Tim.3:16). However, G-d admonishes us to rightly divide the word of G-d (2 Tim. 2:15). Therefore we are to diligently pray for wisdom that comes from above as we study to chow thyself approved. We are to work our our salvation with dear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). So do we use only the Hebrew names of YHVH/Yahshua and discourage other transliterated forms that may be misinterpreted to mean pagan dieties?
To transliterate the Hebrew Yahshua to English, we merely go to Yeshua. Thus his name is pronounced Yahshua both in Hebrew and in English – a perfect transliteration. What could be simpler? Whether Jesus is a pagan name isn’t what matters! What matters is the fact that Jesus was never the name of the Messiah of YHVH, whose story is recorded in the New Testament!
Proper names are not translated from one language to another, if it is possible to transliterate. If that is impossible, to accurately transliterate a proper name (as is the case in transliterating from Hebrew to Greek), then it is still possible to teach them how to correctly pronounce the name of the Messiah; similar to the way that English speaking people would learn how to correctly pronounce the Spanish word “Chihuahua” or the French word “resume”. They need someone who knows the correct pronunciation to teach them.
The change of the Messiah’s name from Yahshua (Yahushua) to Jesus (a mistranslation) certainly serves the purpose of obscuring his Jewish identity and his Jewish ministry. The true ministry of Yahushua the Messiah is and was dedicated to finding the “lost sheep of the House of Israel.” History, both religious and secular, is clear that the “Church” has expended a vast effort to distance itself from the true nature, origins, and purpose of this Jewish messiah!
It is no surprise that the number of “religious” people who want to bring “Jesus” to the Jews, clearly do not have a grasp of many of the Ephraim/Judah issues that plague the unity of those two Houses. Churchianity has been in the sun way too long, and it is going to be a tough process for them to discard the pagan and/or error filled baggage they bring with them. Judah (the Tribes of Benjamin, Judah, and Levites) has considerable Talmudic baggage to discard as well. I am reminded of the declaration of the prophet Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” This applies to Christians and Rabbinic Judaism.
We are not interested in bringing “Jesus” errors to Judah; there are already enough groups doing that. We do support bringing Yahshua Ha Mashiach (Yahushua the Messiah) to both Ephraim and Judah: and there is an immense historical difference between Jesus and Yahhua. People’s eternal life depends on acceptance of the genuine and rejection of the false.
Our king is totally opposed to perpetuating the centuries of misinformation and disinformation promulgated by the church leaders who have used their pulpits to disseminate their apostasy. The prophet to Israel, Jeremiah 16:19, prophecies: “O YHVH, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.'”
We need to examine the Scriptures from a Hebraic perspective (not always a Jewish perspective) in order to glean all the truth and nuances of the Hebrew writers of those books and arrive at the intended (by YHVH) understanding of the Hebrew words of YHVH to the people to whom He entrusted the oracles. Those people were NOT the “churches.”
The important thing in God’s sight is not whether we pronounce the syllables and consonants of His name in some precise manner since we have limited knowledge of language and cannot know how to pronounce words with no vowels .But rather, whether we love Him with all our heart, mind and soul, and love our neighbor as ourselves as He commands in any language. As Yahshua said: “For this is the (whole) law and the prophets.” If we want to be counted as true believers and faithful servants, we must carry the testimony of Yahshua, and guard the commands of HaShem. These are the two conditions Yahshua uses to define a true believer 7 times in the book of Revelation. G-d is our only Judge. He will decide whether we worshipped Him in thought, speech, and deed, or if we considered Him in any other context. Will an Amazonian native who innocently calls G-d by a name chosen for him in his native tongue be condemned to hell? I submit that it will not be so if he follows G-s as he knows him in thought, speech, and deed. Will a person who has access to sound biblical teaching go to hell if he/she considers G-d’s names, laws, and regulations irrelevant and does not seek the truth of His ways? G-d says He is just and He will judge each of us according to our ways (Ezek. 18:30-31; Matthew Chapter 7). Furthermore, high-handed carelessness of G-d and His Torah will not be forgiven (Mark 3:29).
Let us all continue to “keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps asking receives; he who keeps seeking finds; and to him who keeps knocking, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8).
“ But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And peacemakers who sow seed in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-18).
Rabbi Tamah Davis