The Mis-Transliteration of a Greek Mis-Transliteration.
Yeshua is the original Aramaic
proper name for Jesus the Nazarene, who lived from about 6 B.C.E. to 27 C.E. (A.D.) The word "Jesus" is actually a mis-transliteration of a Greek mis-transliteration. The
Emperor Constatine even mistook Jesus for Apollo, the son of the Greek god Zeus. In Hebrew Yeshua
means Salvation while the name Jesus has no intrinsic meaning in English whatsoever.
It is most proper to call Him Yeshua. It was indeed
his proper name, given to him by his parents, and only in Hebrew does this name have any meaning. In Hebrew Yeshua means
both "Salvation," and the concatenated form of Yahoshua, is "Lord who is Salvation." The name Jesus has no intrinsic
meaning in English whatsoever.
There are many Yeshuas that we read about in Biblical text
and many are confused with the Yeshua who would later become the "Christ". The name Yeshua appears 29 times in the Tanach.
Yehoshua (Joshua) of Nun is called Yeshua in Nechemyah (Nehemiah) 8:17. Yeshua is the name of the Cohain HaGadol (the high
priest) in the time of Zerubavel in Ezra 3:2. It is the name of a Levite under King Hizkiyah (Hezekiah) in 2 Chronicles 31:15.
There is even a city called Yeshua in the negev of Yehudah in Nechemyah11:26. Yeshua is also a shortened version of the word
Yehoshua much like Bill is for William.
There are 7 other Yeshuas (Jesuses) in the Brit Chadashah.
There is Elymas bar Yeshua in Acts 13:6. There is an ancestor of Yeshua HaMashiach: the son of Eliezar, the father of Er in
Luke 3:29. In Rav Shaul's letter to the Colossians in chapter 4, verse 11, there is a Justus called Yeshua a fellow worker
of Shaul. Josephus, the famous Jewish historian mentions 20 different Yeshuas (Jesuses), 10 of which are contemporary with
Yeshua HaMashiach. All together, at least 50 Yeshuas from his time plus about 9 in the Tanach have been revealed from Biblical
text and other literary sources.
Mis-Translating the Mis-Translation
Yeshua is a Hebrew name which has been transliterated
into Greek as Iesous (IhsouV: pronounced "ee-ay-SUS"). The English
"Jesus" comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name into the Latin Iesus. Now Greek has no "y" sound, but
the Latin "i" is both an "i" and a "j" (i.e., it can have a consonantal force in front of other vowels), the latter of which
is properly pronounced like the English "y" (which explains the German Jesu, "YAY-su")That is why we spell Jesus
as we do, taking it straight from Latin, but we pronounce the name with a soft "j" sound because that is what we do
in English with the consonantal "j".
The first letter in the name Yeshua ("Jesus") is the
yod. Yod represents the "Y" sound in Hebrew. Many names in the Bible that begin with yod are mispronounced by English speakers
because the yod in these names was transliterated in English Bibles with the letter "J" rather than "Y". This came about because
in early English the letter "J" was pronounced the way we pronounce "Y" today. All proper names in the Old Testament were
transliterated into English according to their Hebrew pronunciation via the Latin, but when English pronunciation shifted
to what we know today, these transliterations were not altered. Thus, such Hebrew place names as ye-ru-sha-LA-yim, ye-ri-HO,
and yar-DEN have become known to us as Jerusalem, Jericho, and Jordan; and Hebrew personal names such as yo-NA, yi-SHAI, and
ye-SHU-a have become known to us as Jonah, Jesse, and Jesus. To further complicate matters, there was no letter "J" in the
old English alphabet and the letter "I" was often used in its place. Often in early texts of the time, Jesus or Jerusalem
would be spelled Iesus or Ierusalem.
The second sound in Yeshua's name is called tse-RE, and
is pronounced almost like the letter "e" in the word "net". Just as the "Y" sound of the first letter is mispronounced in
today's English, so too the first vowel sound in "Jesus". Before the Hebrew name "Yeshua" was transliterated into English,
it was first transliterated into Greek. There was no difficulty in transliterating the tse-RE sound since the ancient Greek
language had an equivalent letter which represented this sound. And there was no real difficulty in transcribing this same
first vowel into English. The translators of the earliest versions of the English Bible transliterated the tse-RE in Yeshua
with an "e". Unfortunately, later English speakers guessed wrongly that this "e" should be pronounced as in "me," and thus
the first syllable of the English version of Yeshua came to be pronounced "Jee" instead of "Yeh". It is this pronunciation
which produced such euphemistic profanities as "Gee" and "Geez".
Since Yeshua is spelled "Jeshua" and not "Jesus" in most
English versions of the Old Testament (for example in Ezra 2:2 and 2 Chronicles 31:15), one easily gets the impression that
the name is never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet 'Yeshua' appears there twenty-nine times, and is the name of at
least five different persons and one village in the southern part of Yehudah ("Judah").
In contrast to the early biblical period, there were
relatively few different names in use among the Jewish population of the Land of Israel at the time of the Second Temple.
The name Yeshua was one of the most common male names in that period, tied with Eleazer for fifth place behind Simon, Joseph,
Judah, and John. Nearly one out of ten persons known from the period was named Yeshua.
The first sound of the second syllable of Yeshua is the
"sh" sound. It is represented by the Hebrew letter shin. However Greek, like many other languages, has no "sh" sound. Instead,
the closest approximation, the Greek sigma, was used when transcribing "Yeshua" as "Iesus". Translators of English versions
of the New Testament transliterated the Greek transcription of a Hebrew name, instead of returning to the original Hebrew.
This was doubly unfortunate, first because the "sh" sound exists in English, and second because in English the "s" sound can
shift to the "z" sound, which is what happened in the case of the pronunciation of "Jesus".
The fourth sound one hears in the name Yeshua is the
"u" sound, as in the word "true". Like the first three sounds, this also has come to be mispronounced but in this case it
is not the fault of the translators. They transcribed this sound accurately, but English is not a phonetic language and "u"
can be pronounced in more than one way. At some point the "u" in "Jesus" came to be pronounced as in "cut," and so we say
The "a" sound, as in the word "father," is the fifth
sound in Jesus' name. It is followed by a guttural produced by contracting the lower throat muscles and retracting the tongue
root- an unfamiliar task for English speakers. In an exception to the rule, the vowel sound "a" associated with the last letter
"ayin" (the guttural) is pronounced before it, not after. While there is no equivalent in English or any other Indo-European
language, it is somewhat similar to the last sound in the name of the composer, "Bach." In this position it is almost inaudible
to the western ear. Some Israelis pronounce this last sound and some don't, depending on what part of the dispersion their
families returned from. The Hebrew Language Academy, guardian of the purity of the language, has ruled that it should be sounded,
and Israeli radio and television announcers are required to pronounce it correctly. There was no letter to represent them,
and so these fifth and sixth sounds were dropped from the Greek transcription of "Yeshua," -the transcription from which the
English "Jesus" is derived.
So where did the final "s" of "Jesus" come from? Masculine
names in Greek ordinarily end with a consonant, usually with an "s" sound, and less frequently with an "n" or "r" sound. In
the case of "Iesus," the Greeks added a sigma, the "s" sound, to close the word. The same is true for the names Nicodemus,
Judas, Lazarus, and others.
English speakers make one final change from the original
pronunciation of Jesus' name. English places the accent on "Je," rather than on "sus." For this reason, the "u" has been shortened
in its English pronunciation to "uh."
Today's tradition of pronouncing His completely hellenized
name as "Jesus" has indeed obscured His true name, "Yeshua," and has shifted its perceived meaning much like most of His original
As with all things Essene however, there is always the
exoteric and the esoteric philosophies and functions. That is, those ideas and teachings suitable to be imparted to the public,
and those designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone.
Even His name, it would seem, became a part of this understanding.
The name Jesus or Jesus Christ is often used in everything from idle conversation, to bumper stickers and jewelry,
to enforcing false teachings, to justifying wars and political agendas, and is even used as a profanity. The name Yeshua
however, has remained pure and holy, known and used only by those who would uphold His name and teachings in the highest
regard and thus reserving His holy name for use only in spiritual matters and the most humbled and sincere of prayer and obeisances.
Special Note: In an effort to keep the integrity
of the manuscripts within The Nazarene Way site and its archives intact, and for the purposes of study, correspondence
and for future theological reference, the name Jesus does appear in many of our texts, files and manuscripts. To the
devout student, the proper name Yeshua is always implied.
It is our intention to reproduce all texts as they were
originally written or, as they were originally translated. We feel it is important that no text is ever arbitrarily or intentionally
changed, altered, added to, replaced or corrected, to include spelling, punctuation or grammatical error. The word Jesus
is also used on our main menu and index pages for general public recognition and for common browser and search engine purposes.(the
Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies)
Give not that which is holy unto the
dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.