The J in Jesus

Bob Vincent bob at
Sun Sep 30 22:22:01 EDT 2001

Jack Kilmon <jkilmon at> wrote:
> I believe the correct roots are "Who help is YHWH." The name
> that reflects what you are translating would be "YESHA (save)-YAHU"
> in other words, Isaiah.

Dear Jack,

Jesus was a fairly common Jewish name, identical to Joshua.  God revealed
himself through many words in the Old Testament, such as El Shaddai and El
Elyon, but one stood out clearly as his proper name: four letters from the
Hebrew alphabet, YHWH, almost certainly pronounced as Yahweh or Yahvhe,
never as Jehovah. This name was always seen as very sacred and powerful and
therefore never to be used lightly.

No one ever dared to name a child God or Yahweh -- the very thought was the
height of blasphemy -- but throughout biblical history, godly people gave
their children names that reflected God's attributes and ownership. For
example, Elisha, which probably contracts two words, El (meaning God) and
yeshua (meaning salvation or deliverance), means "God is salvation."

Many times people incorporated God's proper name, Yahweh, as part of the
name. Elijah is comprised of El (God), with the first person singular
suffix, i (my), and Yahweh (contracted to Yah): "My God is Yahweh."

Joshua is formed by contracting Yahweh with yeshua: "Yahweh is salvation,"
an appropriate name for a deliverer, such as the son of Nun. Before the
Babylonian captivity, Joshua's name in Hebrew was pronounced Yehoshua (Yeh
HO [as in no] shoo ah); afterwards it was written Yashua (Ya [as in day]
SHOO ah). In Greek and Latin it is (pronounced YA [as in day] soos),
written Iesus in Latin.

It is not surprising that Joshua was a popular name for Hebrew boys (cf.
e.g. the high priest of Zechariah 3), nor was it unusual when the angel
instructed Joseph to name his wife's son Joshua (Matthew 1:21).*  In the
course of time, English translators rendered it Jesus in order to
distinguish our Lord from his Old Testament kin.

* "2. Up to the beginning of the 2nd century a.d. the name Yashua or Iesous
was very common among the Jews. Among the 72 translators of the LXX (The LXX
is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the Septuagint,
because there were seventy LXX rabbis involved. It became the Bible of
Hellenistic Judaism, because they no longer understood Hebrew well. It was
done a bit over a century before Christ.) according to the Epistle of
Aristeas (48, 49), three bear the name of Iesous. Josephus mentions some 20
of the name, including ten contemporaries of Jesus. The ossuary inscriptions
(An ossuary is a container or receptacle, such as an urn or a vault, for
holding the bones of the dead. The Jews preserved the bones of their
ancestors in their cemeteries and put stone markers above them with
inscriptions. In other words, these are gravestones that have the name Jesus
on them, indicating that various people who had the name Jesus were buried
there.) from the vicinity of Jerusalem (at the beginning of the 2nd cent.
a.d. at the very latest) yield us Yashua . . . Many others bear the name as
well as Jesus. Thus we find a pre-exilic example in the genealogy in Luke
3:29. In Matthew 27:16 Barabbas is also called Iesous Barabbas. In Acts 13:6
the sorcerer in Cyprus is called Bar Iesous, and in Col. 4:11 the helper of
Paul is called Iesous also called Justus." [Werner Foerster, "Iesous" in
_Theological Dictionary of the New Testament_ (Grand Rapids, 1977), Vol.
III, pp. 284, 285 (I have expanded his abbreviations for clarity and
transliterated his Hebrew and Greek into Roman letters.)

Sincerely yours,

"The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for
its standard."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Robert Benn Vincent, Sr.
Grace Presbyterian Church
4900 Jackson Street
Alexandria, Louisiana 71303-2509
318.445.7271 church
318.443.1034 fax
318.793.5354 home
bob at

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