‘Jesus’ is all right. So are ‘Yahweh’ & ‘Adonai’

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Last month, after I spoke about Israel at a Bible study, one of the ladies there asked me whether the name Jesus came from Zeus.

No, it does not.

I was very happy to see Dr. Michael Brown — author of The Real Kosher Jesus — address this in a Charisma News article. He says, in part,

So, what are the facts?

The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is Yeshua, which is short for Yehoshua (Joshua), just as Sammy is short for Samuel. (By the way, there is no such name as Yahushua, supposedly the original pronunciation for Joshua in Hebrew—again, not true!—and God’s name was never pronounced Yahua. Throw those myths in the trash bin as well.)

The Hebrew-Aramaic name Yeshua (top) was transliterated as Iesous in the Greek (center) then to Iesus in the Latin which became Jesus in English. (Credit: Stevert via Wikipedia)
The Hebrew-Aramaic name Yeshua (top) was transliterated as Iesous in the Greek (center) then to Iesus in the Latin which became Jesus in English. (Credit: Stevert via Wikipedia)

The name Yeshua occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile, called both Yehoshua (see Zechariah 3:3) and, more frequently, Yeshua (see Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Old Testament, and it was a very common name in the first century of this era. Also, Syriac-Aramaic transcriptions of the name from the first centuries of this era confirm the pronunciation of Yeshua rather than the make-believe Yahshua.

About 200 years before the time of Jesus, when Greek-speaking Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (the translation was called the Septuagint), they transcribed the Hebrew Yeshua with the Greek name Iesou(s) (pronounced yeysoos), which is ultimately how we got the English name Jesus. (There was no “sh” sound in Greek, so Hebrew “sh” became Greek “s.”)

There’s nothing mysterious here, and this is just a matter of names in one language undergoing changes when they switch into another language, like Michael in English compared to Miguel in Spanish compared to Mikhael in Russian. There is no conspiracy and no cover-up.

Visit Charisma News to read the rest of the article, as he has quite a bit to say. He addresses the Zeus falsehood as well as the made up Yahshua and Yahushua.

Brown encourages us who worship in English:

Do not be ashamed to use the name Jesus! That is the proper way to say His name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name Mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name Mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name and witness in Jesus’ name.

And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to Him by His original name, Yeshua … remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King.

What about other names of God?

Judah Himango at Kineti L’Tziyon (I am zealous for Zion) addressed a related issue in his post Oh my God! Ridiculous Messianic theologies about God’s name.

Himango runs Chavah Messianic Radio and says he get requests to remove songs from his playlist for either using the name of God or not using it.

The impulse to not use a variant of God’s personal name YHVH (e.g. Yah, Yahweh, Jehovah) probably stems from the fourth commandant not to use God’s name in vain. I like the Complete Jewish Bible translation of this verse:

You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly. (Exodus 20:7 CJB)

Don’t take the name of God lightly, but it doesn’t say don’t use it.

First, where you see ADONAI up there, the Hebrew text actually says YHVH, so the name is being used right in the commandment. Second, the psalmists use it all the time in their prayers and worship. See the whole book of Psalms.

Still, people allow fear to stifle their worship and often that of those around them.

The other group Himango hears from is people who think using alternate names like Lord or HaShem is wrong and every one should use only YHVH. Those people need to get new Bibles because very few English translations use Jehovah let alone Yahweh or YHVH. All my Bibles either say LORD or ADONAI.

Himango addresses both groups:

Censoring people that use – or don’t use – the name is controlling, religiously abusive, and borderline cultish. And besides, both sides are wrong. Judaism once used God’s name everywhere, and it shows up in the Scriptures (e.g. halleluyah) and in the names of the ancients (e.g. Jeremiah = Yirmiyahu, Isaiah = Yesha’yahu). And the people have been using titles and circumlocutions for God over ages past, calling him King, Lord, Elohim, blessing his name. …

Fine Messianic believers, followers of Yeshua the Messiah and keepers of God’s commandments in the Torah: stop being idiots and fighting over worthless things. If one believer is convicted to use God’s proper name in worship – even a crazy rendition thereof! – let him worship God with all his heart, and not be tripped up by your overly-strong religious convictions. And if you’re a Hebrew Roots guy, like our friend Iyke, who just can’t worship God using titles – stop your craziness! Worship God with all your heart and don’t worry about Lord this and HaShem that.

Relax. Worship God. And move onto important things.

Let us rest in the finished work of Messiah, the grace and mercy of the Father and just worship.

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