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The Name of Jesus

Phonetic Pronunciation History

There are some people who believe the name Jesus is somehow Zeus disguised, and hence offensive to use. They think “Yahshua” was combined with “Zeus,” and this is how “Jesus” arose. It is true “sus” could be added for such a purpose. See Professor J.C.J. Melford, Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend (1983) at 126: “Greek name endings with sus, seus, and sous (which are phonetic pronunciations for Zeus) were attached by the Greeks to names and geographical areas as means to give honor to their supreme deity, Zeus.”

However, this does not apply here. Jesus's true name of YAHSHUA would in Latin or Greek identify a woman because of the feminine A ending. So to identify YAHSHUA as a male, a Greek or Roman transliteration would add "S." Thus, to convert YAHSHUA to a male name, simply replacing A with an S-ending did the trick in both languages. Thus, there was no ZEUS-like appendage involved, and no pagan meaning to the name Jesus.

The truth is Jesus is no more inappropriate to refer to Yahshua than rendering Mattityahu as Matthew. It is how the historical YAHSHUA is recognized in English.

Nor is there anything sinister in the name Jesus. For the English modern spelling of Jesus was originally an honest but now archaic transliteration of Yahshua into Greek and Latin. True, Jesus is an artifact pronunciation that is no longer valid because of how English changed over time. But this is an honest transformation due to changes in language.

As already mentioned, the ending in S is simply because Greek and Latin needed a masculine ending of -ous or -us to YAHSHUA so as to be sure one knew we were not talking about a woman. But those facts do not prove it is wrong or sinister to identify Messiah by the name of "Jesus," as some contend.

Let’s begin a deeper discussion with the last point first and then go into more depth. The name Yahshua would signify to a Greek or Roman, because it ended in ua, that Jesus was a woman. To correct this false impression, the ending to Yah-sh-ua was modified with a masculine ending of ous (Greek) and us (Latin). Hence, JES + US ends in -us to signify the male gender of Jesus.

Second, the English syllable JES derives from IES in ancient Greek, and was pronounced as YAIS. The Greek letter E corresponds to the dipthong of AE or AI. (See Richard Morris Smith (1884) at this link.) The Teutons "preserved the Roman spelling and the pronunciation YAIZOOS." (Id.) "The Gaullish French pronounced it as Zhaizyoo." Id. The Norman English after the letter "I" with the Y sound evolved into the J sound, and had the pronunciation first "Jayzu" and then "Jayzus." Id.

In Old English, the name of Jesus was rendered with the second letter as "ae" -- a dipthong with a predominant A sound. See "Bosworth's Parallel Gospels," The Saturday Review (July 14, 1866) at 56 col. 2, para. 2.

Later in English, this changed into Jesus as we now sound out the E sound. (Smith, 1884, supra.)

The letter I in Latin and Greek evolved by the 1400s into J in English. Later, it eventually gained the modern J sound. The Encyclopedia Americana explains:

“The form of ‘J’ was unknown in any alphabet until the 14th century. Either symbol (J,I) used initially generally had the consonantal sound of Y as in year. Gradually, the two symbols (J,I) were differentiated, the J usually acquiring consonantal force and thus becoming regarded as a consonant, and the I becoming a vowel.”

This is how YAHSHUA truly started as a transliteration that by honest steps evolved into JESUS even though JESUS no longer sounds anything like YAHSHUA.
An observant comment at Karen's Korner "Jesus, Iesous, and Yashua" (2008) aptly points out:

I do not know how old the name Iesuos is, but I presume it was also a Greek name prior to the Septuagint translation. Those translators called Joshua by the name of Iesous. Many different men by this name appear in the history of Josephus, including two high priests deprived of the priesthood. (See Antiquities, vi, v, 3 and xv, iii, 1.) Others were actually given the high priesthood. Antiquities. XX, ix, 4 says,

“And now Jesus the son of Gamaliel became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other.”

This sounds a lot like preachers today! But my point is that Josephus and other Greek-speaking historians thought nothing of translating men’s Hebrew names into Greek. The same is done in Hebrews 4:8, where Joshua is referred to as Jesus (Iesous).

Hence, JESUS did not come about as a sinister version of ZEUS, as some claim. There is nothing wrong thus to use “Jesus” to identify YAHSHUA. It is an historically valid transliteration which is now archaic, as letters and pronunciation have changed over time. That said, I wholeheartedly endorse teaching the original name and sound is YAHSHUA. (Some prefer YESHUA. Two persons I know endorse YAHUSHA.) We need an updated transliteration for today. And YAHSHUA is the best one.
In closing this first topic, I do commend Karen's conclusion to her article quoted above:
But let us not go so far as to malign others for using the English translations of those Hebrew words or for “mispronouncing” the name.

Yahsha or Yah-Shua?

I also believe YAH-SHUA is the true name of Jesus, typically rendered in English as Joshua, but transliterated into Greek and Latin, after adding a masculine S ending, with the Greek-Latin pronunciation of YAZUS.

Here, the Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew helps a bit but not entirely. It helps us by rendering in Matt 1:21 Jesus as "Y'SHUA" i.e., Yahshua / Yashua. But otherwise, Jesus is rendered as "Y'SHU," i.e., Yeshu, at Matt 9:2, 19:28, 20:30, and 28:9. (See this link.)

Why the difference?

The Toledoth Yeshu was a medieval work up through the 1100s which popularized among Jews to call Jesus "Yeshu" to imply an acronym meaning 'let his name and memory be blotted out.' See the "Toledoth Yeshu," Wikipedia. (The acronym was "Yemach Shemo U'zikhrono.")

However, when it comes to Matthew 1:21, and God tells Joseph to call him Jesus "for he will save my people from their sins," the polemical use of YESHU in Shem-Tob was submerged, and Y'SHUA was properly visible. This is because one familiar with Hebrew would know YESHU could not possibly fit the meaning of 'he will save my people,' but Yahshua could, and thus polemics are put aside to render correctly the name of Jesus in Matthew 1:21 in the ancient Hebrew version.

Bennett concurs, after exhaustive analysis of the Hebrew, and the evolution of Hebrew usage:

"Thus Joshua [in Hebrew] should be pronounced Yahshua. I see no reason for spelling it or pronouncing it as Yeshua....It is perfectly acceptable to pronounce Joshua [in Hebrew] as Yahshua, and the short form of Yahushua [Joshua's unabbreviated name] is more accurately rendered as Yahshua." (Todd D. Bennett, Names: The Father, the Son, and the Importance of Names in the Scriptures (Shema Israel Publications: 2006) at 65.)

However, some think Jesus' true name was YASHA. (Mildred Garner.) I don't agree.

If it was YASHA, it meant simply "He saves." (Strongs 3467.) But if it meant YAH-SHUA, it means "salvation of Yahweh." 

How can we decide? I believe Matthew in Matthew in 1:21 was telling us that Jesus' name was a conglomerate name just as Isaiah 8:1 and 9:6 set forth conglomerate names. (For discussion of the conglomerate names in them, see our article on Isaiah 9:6.) For Matthew tells us Jesus' name, and then says "for he shall save my people from their sins." Matt 1:21 (OGM /Shem-Tob.) Cfr. Matt 1:21 ("his people"). A meaning of "Salvation of Yahweh" -- YAH-SHUA --- fits that explanation that "he shall save my people...." But "he saves" (YASHA) does not tie in Yahweh's name. Thus Matthew's explanation requires a longer word than YASHA - a conglomerate word with YAH as a component - as a foundation for that synopsis. YAH-SHUA fits what Matthew is saying.

Hence, because if Jesus' name were purely YASHA - "He saves" (Strong's 3467), it does not have YAH in Jesus' name, while YAH-SHUA does. I believe the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 requires that Jesus' name include the name YAH. See our article "Isaiah 9:6."

Furthermore, as explained below, I believe Zechariah 6:11-13 was a prophecy that Jesus' actual name would be Joshua -- again, the English version of a name whose pronunciation is historically proven to be YAHSHUA.

Contrast "Isaiah's" Name For Example

By looking at Isaiah's true name -- so similar to that of the Savior Jesus, you can see how conglomerate names work and how Isaiah 9:6 and Zechariah 6:11-13 interrelate. This will help prove Jesus must have had the same name as Joshua -- pronounced YAHSHUA.

First, Isaiah means in Hebrew "Yahweh saves." = two conglomerated words -- YASHA (saves) + YAH. See Jewish Study Bible (Jewish Publication Society) -- comment on Isaiah 9:6, discussed at this link.) Technically, the JPS says it means the "Lord Saves." But the true first component  is YAH -- as in YASHAI-YAH (phonetically), not LORD. See this link. See also Strong #3467, Yasha (yaw-sha) - saves.

Christian authorities in agreement say: "the Hebrew name Isaiah itself means "the Lord saves." Peter D. Quinn-Miscall Reading Isaiah: poetry and vision (2001) at 134. "The prophet's very name, which means "the Lord saves." (John F. A. Sawyer, Isaiah (1987) at 27.) But see Isaiah Meaning (says it means Yahweh is Salvation, or Salvation of Yahweh. This points out that "Isaiah" is a name which uses the same two elements of the name Joshua but in reverse order.) 

Again, in Mr. Reading's statement that it means the "Lord saves" we must remember "Lord" there is a veiling of the name YAH (at the end - ISAI-YAH) -- the word "Lord" arising from the influence of the man-made Ineffable Name Doctrine that we should not utter God's name.

And if pronounced in Hebrew, Isaiah would be YASHA + YAH.

However, Jesus's name in the pronuciation history detailed above is nothing like YASHA-YAH.

So what is Jesus' true name?

Here Jesus' name in the Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Gallic, and Norman and Old English was always pronounced with a first syllable YAH sound. (See above.) Hence, the first part of the name of Jesus was YAH, which is either a contraction of YAHWEH, or the Digrammaton -- a two letter abbreviation equally meaning YAHWEH. The next syllable had to mean, per Matthew 1:21, saving / salvation of "my people." Thus 'SHUA fits.

This is what Matthew 1:21 was saying. YAH-SHUA was the name given to Jesus: OF YAHWEH + SALVATION. Thus it means YAHWEH's SALVATION or "Salvation of Yahweh." Thereby, it fulfilled Isaiah 9:6, both in the first and last conglomerate words - SALVATION OF YAHWEH -- whereby the child born to us He (God) will call by the name of the Mighty God and Everlasting Father -- by having YAH as part of His name.  See "Isaiah 9:6." But no blasphemous thoughts should enter our minds. God called as a Prophet Isaiah whose name was YASHA + YAH meaning YAH(WEH) SAVES. While God called Isaiah his Prophet and Isaiah had the name of Yahweh -- the Mighty God and Everlasting Father, in part, God was not trying to imply by choosing Isaiah that Isaiah was Yahweh / the Father Himself.

Prophecy That Jesus' Name Would Be Y'SHUA bar Yahuzadok

First, be aware that the Branch was to have the name YAHUZADOK, Yahweh the Righteous. In Jeremiah 23:5-6 KJV, we read:

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

6In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD [=YAHWEH] OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.  [The word "our" is interpolated for poetical effect.]

The name translated as "Lord [i.e., YAHWEH] our Righteousness" in Hebrew is simply YAHUZADAK. (Todd Bennett, Names (2008) at 60.)

The Prophet Zechariah then even prophecies that the "branch" of Jeremiah -- the king to come -- would have Jesus' name of Joshua -- the English version of Y'SHUA, and simultaneously be son of YAHUZADAK. This is in Zechariah 6:11-13 (KJV), which thereby ties into Jeremiah 23:5-6 which prophesied the annointed king to come in David's line would be also known by the name of Yahuzadok (Righteous Yahweh):

11Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua [i.e., Yahshua] the son of Josedech [i.e., Yahuzadak] the high priest;

12And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

13Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Hence, we see the Jeremiah prophecy tells us the NAME by which the Branch is called YAHUZADAK actually is part of his family name, as depicted in Zechariah. The high-priest in Zechariah who prophetically prefigures the coming king has the full name of YAHSHUA bar (son of) YAHUZADAK. Then Jeremiah says this is a prophecy about someone who will also be known as the "Branch" (NTSR = Nazarene) of David. Hence,  "JOSHUA son of" YAHUZADAK is the prophetic name of the coming king when you read together both Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Zechariah 6:11-13, and he will be commonly known as NTSER = Nazarene if you anglify it. (Jesus' true birth city was spelled Nazara, and hence this is how that prophecy was fulfilled.)

To repeat, in Hebrew, JOSHUA is the name we have deduced is the name of Jesus. But in Hebrew, it is YAHSHUA.

Thus, Jeremiah's and Zechariah's prophecy together meant Jesus' true full name is YAHSHUA bar [son of] YAHUZADOK, just as the high priest YAHSHUA bar YAHUZADAK was exactly known, and was crowned to symbolize the Davidic king to come. Zechariah adds that this person will also be known as the "branch" (netser = nazarene) who was to sit and rule over Jerusalem in the future. As explained elsewhere, Jesus' town was actually Nazara in all early manuscripts and early quotes of the 'fathers (which later editors changed to Nazareth -- a town that did not exist in Jesus' day because Nazara disappeared but Nazareth came into being). And this town Nazara's name actually derives from "Branch" (netser). Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah was indeed fulfilled in every respect regarding Jesus / Yahshua. In Acts 22, Luke preserves that Jesus was identified as "Jesus the Nazarene," as his common title.

Thus, the full true name of Jesus, as Jews appended "son of" often, was, if we subtract the poetical addition of "our" from Yahweh our Righteousness, actually: "Salvation of Yahweh, son of Righteous Yahweh" = Yahshua bar Yahuzadok.

More Proof Jesus is Joshua = Yahshua

As Bennet explains:

So then, the Name of Messiah is the same name as Joshua, the commander of Israel who began as a servant and later led the children of Israel across the Jordan River into the promised land. Id., at 60-61.

Before Joshua's name was changed to Josehua, his original name was HOSHEA. That simply meant "salvation." Moses changed it to YAHUSHUA to signify it now meant "Salvation of Yahweh." (Bennett: 62.)

Again, while Jesus' personal name could be the full name of Joshua -- YAHUSHUA, it was common to shorten it to YAHSHUA. The pronunciation history in Greek, Latin, Gaullic, Teutonic, and Norman periods all suggest Jesus' name was the shortened version, which means Jesus' true name was YAHSHUA.

Regardless, Bennett agrees that even the short form of YAHUSHUA -- which is YAHSHUA - should have the YAH sound at the beginning, not the YEH sound. At the time of the Babylonian captivity, the "short form spelling" removed the significant parts of pronouncing Yahweh's name as Yahweh, but we know better now: "the short form name should still have the Yah sound at the beginning." (Bennett: 65.) Pronunciation history of Jesus' name proves Bennett is correct.


Study Notes

YAH or YAHU in Jesus' Name?

Yahu in a name would often contract to Yah. See Museum Journal (1910) vol 1-3, at page 30.

Or Yah was an acceptable digrammaton -- a two letter word -- to equally signify Yahweh. Steven Ortlepp, Pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton: A Historical Linguistic Approach at pages 129-130.

The article “Jah” in Wikipedia likewise says “Yah is a short form of Yahweh” used “50 times in the text of the Hebrew Bible….”

Ineffable Name Doctrine Overlaid on New Testament

Standford Rives in his Reconstruction of the Original Gospel of Matthew -- book 3 in the series -- explains that the High Priest likely said to Jesus to tell him plainly whether Jesus was "Messiah, son of Yahuzadok," i.e., son of Righteous Yahweh, Matthew 26:63. Here is the reference from page 93 in the 2014 edition:

I insert “Righteous Yahweh” in place of “God” as likely what was actually spoken, but removed due to the Ineffable Name doctrine that influenced early editors of the New Testament. It even doomed the oldest manuscripts with “Yahweh” to disappear. The high priest wants to know if Jesus claims to fulfill the prophecy of the branch (NTSR in Hebrew) who would be "son of Yahuzadak, Righteous Yahweh." The branch of Jeremiah 23:5-6 to come rule Israel as an “anointed” king (Messiah = anointed) will have the name Yahuzadak, but in Zechariah 6:11-13 his full name turns out to be Yahshua son of Yahuzadak, a high priest, who is crowned to prefigure the “branch” of David’s lineage to come to rule over Israel as an “annointed” king, i.e., Messiah. Hence, the high priest in verse 63 is asking about these passages.

Early Manuscript Writing of Jesus' Name

C Winn (CW) in his article Questioning Paul claims he is examining the earliest manuscripts of Paul and other NT writings to see how the name of Jesus was written. He contends Jesus' name did not even appear in the earliest manuscript of the NT --  Papyrus 46, the oldest extant manuscript of Paul's letter to the Galatians. It is dated to the late first or early second century. There he says Jesus' name was symbolized by a brief placeholder [   ] to represent "Yahushua," and then in other places by other brief letter placeholders. CW writes:

Moving on, the placeholders Iota Epsilon, Iota Epsilon Nu, Iota Sigma, Iota Epsilon Sigma, Iota Upsilon, and Iota Nu were used to convey Yahushua’s name every time it is found in the Renewed Covenant. And that means that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for the 17th-century corruption written as "Jesus." Beyond the fact that there is no "J" sound or letter in the Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, or Latin languages, "Jesus" isn’t an accurate transliteration of Iesou, Iesous, or Iesoun—which were conceived as a result of Greek gender and grammar rules. But most importantly, none of these names was ever written in the Greek text—not once, not ever. It is therefore inappropriate to transliterate something (to reproduce the pronunciation in the alphabet of a different language) which isn’t present in the text. So the name "Jesus" is a colossal fraud purposely promoted by religious leaders desirous of separating Yahshua from Yahweh, and the Torah from the Healing and Beneficial Message.

Let's just stop there, and clarify that there is nothing fraudulent in using the name Jesus, as it is an honest transliteration with an honest gender ending.  It simply changed pronunciation in English over time to no longer reflect a correct transliteration as it originally did with a necessary addition of a gender ending.

That said, CW next explains in Galatians 1:1 that the original and oldest Papyrus 46 had IHY but this was replaced later:

I want to bring your attention to another problem with our English translations. In this passage, the purpose of the placeholders for Yahushua’s name and title, for "Messiyah," and [omitted Hebrew letters] for "Yahushua," were ignored as usual. And in both cases, the placeholders were replaced by the Greek title and name which does not actually appear in the oldest manuscripts: Christou Iesou.

I have not had an opportunity to study the accuracy of these claims. I will update this page when I have done so.  

Study Note On Background Movements

For why YA and not YE sound is best at beginning, see this discussion of the name of YAHWEH.

For defense of Yeshua over Yashua from yashanet, see this link.

Wikipedia's article "Yashua" claims:

" Christians, historians, and linguists outside the sacred name movement for the most part reject the term Yahshua in favor of Yeshua as the original pronunciation.

"Yahshua" supporters teach that since the Messiah will "come in his Father's Name",{John 5:43} then he must have the name of Yahweh, or at least the abbreviated form (Yah) in his spoken name. Another popular contraction is Yah'shua with the apostrophe ( ’ ) serving as a division to emphasize [citation needed] the "Yah" aspect of the name and the Hebrew shua (salvation), found in the Natural Israelite Bible, English Version.

However, I found a work from 1887 that already contended that the Hebrew true sound is Yashua:

The names of Moshai and Yaishooa (or Yeshua, Yashua, Jesus) I have given in the spelling, which to the ordinary English reader, unfamiliar with Hebrew sounds, most correctly represents the original Hebrew sounds, or Hebrew-Aramaic pronunciation. (Richard Morris Smith, An Outline of the Future Religion of the World (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1884) at 26.)

His reason? In a footnote on the same page, he explains that the transliteration of Jesus actually had for the "e" sound there a dipthong sound of AE. So as to the E he explains:

The second letter (represented in Hebrew by vowel points), the Greek hra has the sound of the English dipthong ae or ai, but shorter in the Hebrew than Greek pronunciation. Id., at 26.

Thus, Jesus' name in phonetically recorded Greek sounds identical to YAHSHUA. The "Salvation of Yah(weh)." This is the name Matthew was explaining in Matthew chapter one.

On the Massoretes leaving the vowel points as YAH if it could be combined with another word, such as HALLELU-YAH = Praise Yahweh, see Essays 1897 at 61.

Additional Notes on Matt 1:21

The Shem-Tob here has “my people,” not “his people.” This makes it significantly clearer that the subject of the sentence—he—alludes to Jesus. It means “For He shall save my people.” Matthew was extracting out the meaning of the second part of Jesus’ conglomerate-name. In Hebrew, Strong’s #3467 says Yasha means Save (or Savior). An almost identical expression to 1:21 appears in Deut 20:4: “The Angel of the Lord said, Call his name Save (or Savior) (yasha) because he will save his people.”

Comparably, the name Isaiah was a conglomerate: YashaYah. Hebrew reads right to left. Thus, Isaiah (=ISHA-YAH) means YAH SAVES.

But if you want to say “salvation of Yah,” it has to be  reversed, and is slightly altered. Thus, still reading right to left in Hebrew, it starts as “Yah-Yashua” but is altered to “YAH-HUSHUA.” Thus, YAH=of Yah + YASHUA (salvation). Then “salvation of Yahweh” can be abbreviated “Yahshua.” (See Dianne Otto, What I Discovered On The Way To Church (2011) at 135.)

Is It Unholy to Use A Non-Hebrew Name for A Leader of Yahweh's People

Some have told me it is unholy to use "Jesus" for a Hebrew prophet, as if a Latinized or Grecian name is inherently unholy.

But a question arises: Moses is really an Egyptian name, and not at all a Hebrew name. Ra-meses, the Pharoaoh, has a name where the "meses" part of his name is synomous to "moses"  which the great Moses bore. [See Torah ed. Friedman (2005)]
However, if Adonai can use Moses, bearing an Egyptian name, why would Adonai find it necessarily offensive to use a Roman name for His Messiah if Jesus is truly a Roman name? I can understand the desire to remind people Jesus' true name was Yahshua, Yeshua, etc., but I do not understand the moral offense anyone takes to the use of a non-Hebrew name for Yahshua, Yeshua, etc., even if indeed Jesus is not truly a transliteration of a Hebrew name. (Yet, it is; it originally sounded like Yashua + s to masculinize it.) 


Study Notes

Nehemiah Gordon defends it is Yeshua at this link on our site.

For another view by someone I respect, see The Messiah's Name (Truth of Yah).