The Name Above Every Other Name
Why is the Messiah’s Name Rendered Jesus In Our Bibles?
Messiah’s Hebrew Birth Name -[vwhy
The Pronunciation of the Messiah’s Name
The name Jesus is precious to hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide. Through a series of circumstances, events and mistakes, the name of the Messiah of Holy Scriptures has been passed down to us as Jesus. Sincere Christians worship the Savior by using that name, sing praises to that name and call upon that name Jesus for salvation and deliverance. The common rendering of Philippians 2:10, 11 underscores the reason for this love of the name Jesus:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (KJV).
It is right that sincere worshippers of the Messiah and our Savior should desire to call upon his name and praise his name and sing to his name. But, in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “surely our fathers have inherited lies” (16:19). The true name of the Messiah has not been faithfully delivered to this generation of believers. In fact, for many centuries, the name of the Messiah of Scripture has been mistakenly rendered Jesus and many have been deceived as to the real name of the One whom we all want to adore and worship.
What is the name of the Messiah? Although the popular English rendering is Jesus, we know that cannot actually be his name. Other cultures pronounce his name in a way that is congruous with their own languages. What’s in a name?Does it matter that the Messiah is called by so many different names? You decide after you consider the following information….
Why is the Messiah’s Name Rendered Jesus In Our Bibles?
The faith as put forth in the New Testament Christian Scriptures is centered upon one individual. This man is presented as the Messiah, who was the promised One of the Hebrew Scriptures, who was to come and bring salvation to the world and fulfill all the promises made to the patriarchs. Most English Bibles use the name Jesus when translating the Greek name used in the New Testament Scriptures for the Messiah. But there is a considerable problem with using this name to call upon and refer to the Messiah of the Bible.
At the heart of the problem with using the name Jesus as a reference to the Messiah is that the name Jesus wasn’t and isn’t his real name. The historical Nazarene was a Hebrew. He was Jewish, born of Jewish parents. He and his parents and all Israel during those times spoke Hebrew as their primary language. Therefore, he was given a Hebrew name.
But the name Jesus is not a Hebrew name. There is no name even close to sounding like Jesus in Hebrew. Therefore, it is easy to see that the name Jesus is not derived from the Hebrew language. In fact, it is a name derived from the Greek language.
It is a common practice for foreigners coming over to the United States to substitute their own given name for a similar sounding English name. This practice is most notable with Indians coming over to work in the U.S. The Indians typically have very long names which English speaking people have great difficulty pronouncing. So the Indians accommodate us by taking on a much shorter and more common English name in order to fit in more easily. This is also true of people of many other nationalities. It’s much easier for everyone to be able to associate a common name with a person.
The name Jesus has come to us in this manner. The Hebrew name given at birth to the Messiah was [vwhy(transliterated YHUShA). The reason we know this is that the Messiah’s name as given in the Greek New Testament is the same name as Joshua son of Nun, as indicated by the usage of this same Greek name in Hebrews 4:8. The name for Joshua, when rendered into the Septuagint Greek text is VIhsou/j,the same name in the Greek New Testament which is rendered Jesus by our English Bibles.
So what happened was this: YHUShA, the given Hebrew name of Joshua and of the Messiah was rendered VIhsou/j (I-ay-sous) in the Greek text, because the closest Greek name to the Hebrew YHUShA was I-ay-sous. From the Greek VIhsou/j the English Bible translators took the first Greek letter “I” and rendered it “J” (which was actually a normal thing to do in that day). The “ay” sound got shortened to an “e” sound. And the “sous” ending was shortened to “sus”. Putting it together, the Hebrew “Yahusha” became in Greek “I-ay-sous” and then into English as “Jesus”.
Messiah’s Hebrew Birth Name -[vwhy
To their credit, congregations of the Sacred Name Movement have desired to call upon the Messiah by his given Hebrew name. They understand, correctly, that He was not given a Greek name (i.e. “Iaysous” or Jesus) at birth. But, that in fact, he was given a Hebrew name which was well known and was in common usage at that time.
The birth account in the book of Mattityahu (Matthew) tells us that “he shall be called VIhsou/j for he shall save his people from their sins” (1:21). The Greek manuscripts have the name VIhsou/j which is rendered Jesus in most English language Bible translations. But we know that his true name was not the Greek name VIhsou/j because he was a Hebrew Jew. What then is his Hebrew name? How can we be sure? A little bit of analysis of the available data and a little bit of reason will lead us to the correct answer.
First of all, whatever his true Hebrew name is, it must have the meaning of the explanation given by the angel to his mother Miriam (Mary). She was told, “for he shall save his people from their sins.” In the Hebrew language and culture, particularly in ancient times, names were given to children which related to the circumstances of their birth, or after a relative, or a name with some prophetic significance. Thus, the meaning of the child’s name has something to do with “saving his people from their sins.”
Secondly, let it be noted that the Greek name VIhsou/j is used some 916 times in reference to the Messiah, is also used in the New Testament as a reference to the one we know as Joshua son of Nun. In Hebrews 4:8 we are told that “if VIhsou/j had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after those things.” The context indicates that he is referring to Joshua son of Nun. Of significance is that the name VIhsou/j was used here to render into Greek the Hebrew name for Joshua. In fact, in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanach, the name VIhsou/j is always used to translate Joshua’s Hebrew name (a few of those times, there is a slight difference in the spelling of the name)
The Hebrew name of Joshua non of Nun is[;vuAhy> (pronounced Yehoshua) in the Masoretic rabbinic Hebrew text. By unanimous consent, it is agreed that this name has the meaning of “Yahu saves” or “Yahu helps.” Thus, we have agreement in the evidence of the usage of VIhsou/j to translate the name of Joshua, and the meaning of the name of Joshua. This evidence points to the irrefutable conclusion that the Hebrew name of the Messiah is the same as the Hebrew name of the man we call Joshua.
When the Messianic Movement began to attract Jews to the Messiah, the name “Yeshua” was adopted as the acceptable Hebrew name for the Messiah, rather than the offensive, Hellenistically derived Jesus. (It is offensive to refer to the true Messiah using the name of a pagan deity.) The word “Yeshua,” in the Hebrew tongue, is the generic term usually translated “salvation.” Unfortunately, this is not the name given to the babe who was born in the succah in Bethlehem and placed in the animals’ feeding trough (manger).
Sacred Name groups which sprang up out of the Messianic Movement, who were not concerned with the rabbinic traditions and restrictions which still handcuff the Messianic Jews, were more interested in ascertaining the actual name of the Messiah. His name came to be rendered Yahshua,Yahushua,YaO wHuSHuA,YWHWSHUA,and by others. Each of these representations by Sacred Name groups have been honest and reverent attempts to accurately pronounce Messiah’s given human name. We have no criticism for anyone who uses these renderings and pronunciations. However, none of those renderings accurately vocalize the Hebrew name [vwhy
The Pronunciation of the Messiah’s Name
In order to properly pronounce the Hebrew name of the Messiah, we must return to the Hebrew spelling and look at similar names and how they are pronounced. The Hebrew manuscripts record the name of Joshua some 144 times in the Tanak (Old Testament). This name is spelled by the letters [vwhy which are the letters called yuhd, hay, vav, sheen, ayin. The name as originally written did not have vowel points. The vowel points were added by the rabbis around the tenth century of the common era to aid in remembering how they pronounce the Hebrew. The rabbis pronounced this name as “Yehoshua” and so gave the vowel points for this pronunciation so that in today’s Masoretic Hebrew text it appears as[;vuAhy>
But the rabbis’ pronunciation is not inspired. Just as it is a commonly accepted assumption that the rabbis intentionally scrambled the vowel points under the name of Elohimhwhy (Yahuwah) in order to conceal its proper vocalization, it is also likely that to continue to hide the correct pronunciation ofhwhy (Yahuwah),the rabbis intentionally mispronounced[vwhy and therefore gave this name the wrong vowel points to propagate this mis-vocalization.
The reasons the rabbis would not pronounce Joshua’s name correctly may be twofold: First, they didn’t want to pronounce the first three letters ofhwhy (Yahuwah) which occur in the Hebrew name Joshua. And secondly, because the Messiah was given this name, the rabbis would not pronounce it correctly, because they did not want to dignify his claim that he is equal with Elohim.
The actual pronunciation is ascertained by considering several other Hebrew names in the Scriptures, the vocalization of which is not disputed. First, the poetic shortened form ofhwhy (Yahuwah) is seen numerous times in the Psalms in the expressionHy”” Wll.h; (“hallelu Yah”), which means praise Yah. Hy”” is the first syllable in the name ofhwhy and is correctly pronounced in the Hebrew Psalms as “Yah.” (The dot in the letterH [“hey”] suggests that the “h” sound is to be fully pronounced rather than to be diminished or faded in vocalization – which would be the case otherwise. Normally an “h” at the end of a word fades and becomes virtually silent. Thus, the “h” is Yah is to be fully pronounced.)
Additionally, there are Hebrew names which use the first three letters of the name hwhy – namely why. YeshayahuWhy”å[.v;(y> (Isaiah in Isaiah 1:1), Yirmyahu Why”ßm.r>yI (Jeremiah in Jer 1:1) and EliyahuWhY””liae (Elijah in 1 Kings 17:1) all attest to the correct pronunciation of the first three letters of the Name. In each of these three names, the last three letters why are pronounced “Yahu.” The rabbis pronounce these same letters in Joshua’s name as “Yeho”! But there is no compelling evidence or reason why Yahu should be vocalized differently merely because it occurs at the beginning of the Messiah’s name. Thus, instead of the rabbinic pronunciation “Yeho,” we should render the first part of Elohim’s name hwhy and the first part of Messiah’s human name [vwhy as “Yahu.”
The final part of Messiah’s Hebrew name is traditionally rendered “shua”, but this too is incorrect. The “oo” (u) part of this is the pronouncing of the rabbinic vowel point between the sheen and the ayin. The vowel points were not part of the original spelling of the Hebrew. These “vowels” were added by the rabbis more than a millennium after the Scriptures were written. So, if we remove this uninspired rabbinic vowel pointing and pronounce only the original inspired spelling of this name, we should be pronouncing this last part of his name as “sha.”
The reason for this is twofold. First, we note that the names for the prophets Yesha-yahuWhy”å[.v;(y> (Isaiah in Isaiah 1:1) and Elisha[v’Ûylia/- (Elisha in 1 Kings 19:16) both affirm that “sheen” followed by “ayin” is correctly pronounced “sha.” Yeshayahu has the same meaning as[vwhy . Yeshayahu means “he saves, (that is) Yahu”, while[vwhy means “Yahu saves.” Elisha’ has the meaning, “My El saves.”
Secondly, if the name had the “shua” vowel point and rendering, the meaning of the name would be “Yahu is opulent.” And we are certain that he is not! The Hebrew word[;Wv (shua) has two distinct meanings. The first is “cry for help,scream” And the second is “opulence, wealth, rich, affluent.” Certainly,the “shua” ending on Messiah’s name is not possible, else his name would mean, “Yahu is crying for help” or “Yahu is affluent”!
The Hebrew root from which the name comes is [v;yO:[v;y†’ (“yesha” or “yasha”). This word means “help, deliverance, salvation.” The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament says our word “yesha” means 1. to receive help; 2. to be victorious; or 3. to accept help. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament attests that the meaning of our word “yesha” is to “be saved, be delivered (Niphal); save, deliver, give victory, help; be safe; take vengeance, preserve (Hiphil). Clearly, this fits the Messiah’s name which was given because he was to “save his people from their sins.” The [v ending of the word “yesha” clearly has the “sha” vocalization. Thus, Messiah’s name has the same vocalization since it was taken from the root word, “yesha” – to save.
Putting it all together, we take the “Yahu” which is demonstrated to be the common pronunciation of “yud, hay, vav” and the “sha” which is the common pronunciation of “sheen, ayin” and we arrive at Yahusha. Thus the Messiah’s correctly spelled and pronounced name is not “Yehoshua” nor “Yahushua” nor “Yahshua” but rather, Yahusha,which translated means, “Yahu saves.”
When calling upon the name which is above every name, I’m certain that we want to be calling upon the correct name. There are many other names which make claim to be great. Let’s not make the mistake of calling upon our Messiah in the wrong name. If we call upon a name which is the name of a false deity, we can’t be sure of what response we might get. Nor could we be sure of who is responding.
The Messiah of Scripture has a real name. It is not Jesus. His real name, the name which we should be pronouncing with our lips, is the name Yahusha. When you call upon the name of the Messiah, be sure to use his real name. Yahusha is his name.
David M Rogers