The Gospel of Matthew tells us that a messenger from God – an angel, approached Miryam [Anglo-Saxon version: Mary] and Yosef [Anglo-Saxon version: Joseph], the natural parents of the Messiah.
This angel, this Heavenly creature had entered the earthly realm in order to give them a special message.
Part of this message was an instruction about how the baby should be called.
This instruction however didn’t originate from the messenger, it was an instruction from Creator God Himself. The angel was only the carrier of the message.
THE LINGUISTIC ROOT BEHIND THE HELLENIZATION OF MESSIAH
What was the real name of the Messiah that God wanted his parents to give him?
It was the name Yeshua. The name Yeshua is a Hebrew name. The angel explains why the personal name of the Messiah should be Yeshua.
This only makes sense in Hebrew. In Hebrew and only in Hebrew the name Yeshua, the personal name of the Messiah, comes from the same root as the Hebrew word yoshia
“She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Yeshua, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.” [Mat 1:21 HNV]
This play of words becomes virtually lost if we try to understand the meaning of this message outside of Hebrew. Again, this instruction makes sense ONLY in Hebrew because ONLY in Hebrew the words for save and Yeshua have the same root.
Here is how this verse looks in Hebrew (from right to left):
הִיא יֹולֶדֶת בֵן וְאַתָּה תִקְרָּא שְמֹו יֵשּועַ כִי הּוא יֹושִיעַ אֶת עַמֹו מֵחַטֹאתֵיהֶם
- PRONOUNCIATION SPELLED USING THE LATIN ALPHABET: hi yoledet ben ve’attah tikra shemo yeshua’, ki hu yoshia et ammo mechattoteihem
- TRANSLATION: “She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Yeshua, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.” [Mat 1:21 HNV]
Here are the two words we need to pay attention to. They explain very clearly exactly why the personal name of the Messiah should be Yeshua:
יֵשּועַ – Yeshua (Savior)
יֹושִיעַ – yoshia (save)
The root is the word ‘yasha’: יָשַׁע which in Hebrew means to deliver, to save, to rescue.
Now the message of the Angel makes perfect sense.
“You shall call his name Savior (Yeshua) for it is he who shall save (yoshia) his people from their sins.”
Pay attention to the following statement: The Hellenized version of the name Yeshua – Iesus, has no meaning whatsoever! The “sh” sound is gone simply because it doesn’t exist in the Greek language. There is no other reason why in the Greek the sound “sh” becomes substituted with “s”. That’s it. There’s nothing “divine” in the Greek spelling of the name of Yeshua – it only changes because the Greek has no “sh” sound.
The ending ” – us” is yet an additional type of Hellnization of the Jewish personal name of the Messiah. Greek did not allow a male name to end in an “ah” sound. Thus Greeks would add “is”, “us”, or “os” at the end of male names (Example: Lycus, Petrakis, Demetrios, Herodotos, Morpheus). Thus, Yeshua in Hebrew became Iesous in Greek. Again, there’s absolutely nothing “divine” in the way the original Hebrew name Yeshua all of a sudden becomes Iησοῦς (pronounced as “eeaysoos” in Greek) -it’s only due to linguistic limitations. This is not unimportant because Christians have created an entirely new persona around the Helenized name of Messiah. The Helenization however didn’t stop with the name only, it literally scrubbed away any and all Jewishness from the Messiah, the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole. This part of the process of severing the original, organic hebraic root of the faith we call “saving”.
MORE HELLENIZATION OF BIBLICAL NAMES
Researchers such as the late Dr. Dwight Pryor, a founding member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, tell us that the name Yeshua was one of the most common names in Israel in the 1st century. There are other names in the Bible that are related to the the same root.
The name of the prophet known as Hosea is rooted also in the word ‘yasha’, to save. The correct pronounciation is Hoshea. Again, the only reason the “sh” sound in Hoshea is replaced with an “s” is the Hellenization of the Hebrew names in the translations from Hebrew to Greek. The name of the prophet known to us as Isaiah is also rooted in the same word. The original name of Isaiah is: Yeshayahu (The Lord Saves). The name of Moses’ servant Joshua who becomes the leader who brought Israel into the Promised Land is: Yehoshu’a (The Lord is Salvation).
There’s nothing “holy” or special about the Greek language. We aren’t in debt to the Greeks or to the Romans (the Romanization of the Bible is another form of distortion). It was the Hebrews who gave the world the first ancient prototype of the modern 26 character alphabet, not the Greeks or the Romans. From this ancient language came the three oldest known languages: Old Hebrew, Phoenician, and Greek. This documentary sheds more light on the truth about the origin of the Torah, which we call today The Bible.
WHAT DOES THE HELLENIZATION OF THE FAITH MEAN TO US TODAY?
The Hellenization of the faith doesn’t end with the personal name of our Messiah. It has permeated the rest of Scripture and it has altered our very perception of the faith as a whole.
The very term we use for Messiah is also a form of a Hellenisized term, originally Mashiach in Hebrew. The reason? You guessed it – nothing but the limitations of the Greek language.
The name of Moses has also been Hellenized. His original name is Moshe and that’s how it should be in our Bibles or at least this is the way it should be in every language that has the “sh” sound. Greek, Icelandic, Latin, Maori, Finnish, and Spanish are the only major languages that don’t have the “sh” sound. The resistance of translators to restore the original Hebrew and Jewish name and term pronounciation in the Bible has nothing to do with linguistic difficulties and everything to do with the history of Christian anti-semitism and the role replacemet theology has played through the ages (the teaching that non-Jews who believe in Yeshua have now replaced the Jews as God’s Chosen people).
The painful truth us that we in our Christian world love our sacred cows and traditions (regardless of how wrong they are) more than God’s Truth (even when it’s not hard at all to respect).
True, there are now a number of translations that seek to right this wrong and to restore to correct Hebraic framework of understaning the Jewish cultur through which the Torah and the Savior were received! One such example is the Hebrew Names Version. This versoin is in fact the World Messianic Bible (WMB) – a 1997 English language update of the American Standard Version which was originally published in 1901. It has also been known as the Hebrew Names Version (HNV) and the World English Bible: Messianic Edition (WEB:ME): https://ebible.org/engwmb/
There are other notable translations such as David Stern’s Complete Jewish Version and few others I will list in a different post. They are all part of a noble effort to move us closer to opening our eyes for the beauty of God’s Truth which can only be revealed fully when studied in its original Hebraic context.
The Greeks gave us the Olympic Games. We can do just fine with or without these Games.
We cannot afford however to go on without restoring the accurate, Hebraic understanding of the faith we call “saving”. It begins by having enough respect for the Messiah and for the will of God which the angel came to deliver to his earthly parents but also to all mankind: His name should be Yeshua (Savior) because he will yoshia (save) His people from their sins.
FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS:
- Should we change the way we refer to Jesus in our prayers and worship?
I will respond with a question – how important do you think it is to know, understand, assimilate and live God’s Truth? Many teachings of the truths of the Word of God are initially in conflict with our way of thinking and our traditions. It takes determination and a process of humbling to accept many of God’s truths (teachings). Sadly, the de-Hellenization of the faith was never made important by those who introduced the faith to us. Hence, to most people using one name or another for Jesus or anything else in the Bible is of minor importance. Having said that, I will admit that even for those who are hungry to know and live according to God’s full spectrum of truth, including embracing its Hebraic foundation, it’s not a small thing for the average Christian to go through this process. It can be confusing, intimidating and demoralizing (especially when you start losing friends over it). At the end this remains a matter of personal conviction. No one should feel forced to do anything. We all should strive to get to know the Truth and to allow the Truth to set us free. Everything else is exchnaging one religious bondage for another.
- Should we talk to others about Jesus or about Yeshua?
Once someone purges their mind from the Hellenization of God’s truth and comes “home” to the true, Hebraic foundation of the faith, there is a spiritual renewal of sorts that takes place. As we surrender to the Lord in obedience, we fulfill an important prophecy – a day will come when the “gentiles” (non-Jews, goyim), will come come to Zion, which represents the rule (Kingdom) of God and will submit to His truth (Micah 4:2) It specifically says that “out of Zion” and Jerusalem the Torah will come forth so it can be received by the non-Jews. This prophecy literally means that the Spirit is working to draw non-Jews to humble themselves and accept the Torah coming from God who rules from Zion. The apostle Paul’s teaching was also consistent with this approach. In Romans 1:16 he clearly teaches that the Good News of Messiah is meant to be given “first” to the Jews, then to the Gentile. This doesn’t mean we need to embrace Judaism per se and somehow denounce Yeshua as Messiah. More article on this subject to come.
- How does this change the way we tell others about the Messiah?
It does and it’s fantastic!
– It immediatly disrupts the confused way many people who seek God think of Jesus and the faith. Most people have terrible misconceptions about who God is, who Jesus is and what the Bible is all about. Instead of struggling to parse through the various confusions, we can introduce them to “a God they don’t know” similarly to what the apostle did in Athens (See Acts 17).
– It is entirely Biblical and spiritually accurate to refer to Jesus as Yeshua.
– It allows us to introduce a whole new authenticity to people who seek the faith.
– Bypassing traditional Christian apologetics and agreeing that there are many issues with traditional Christianity could earn us the right to introduce people to the faith as it was for the first 3 centuries – a movement of followers of the Messiah who had no “temples”, weren’t in bed with the authorities, were persecuted for their faith, and grew tremendously. All this changed in the 4th century under the Roman Emperor Constantine. We are not beholden to the newly minted version of anti-semitic Christianity which he and his court-friendly theologians created.
Resources for further study:
- The Naming of Jesus in Hebrew Matthew https://www.amazon.com/Naming-Jesus-Hebrew-Matthew/dp/0976263734
- Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Difficult-Words-Jesus-Perspective/dp/156043550X/ref=tmmpapswatch0?encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
- What Is The Original Hebrew Name For Jesus? https://askdrbrown.org/library/what-original-hebrew-name-jesus-and-it-true-name-jesus-really
- Judaism and the Origins of Christianity https://www.amazon.com/Judaism-Origins-Christianity-David-Flusser/dp/9652236276/
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