Articles on the Sacred Name /Divine Name and Word of Faith Movements
Dr. Daniel Botkin explains the Hebrew linguistics of the names Yeshua and Yahshua and how Yahshua is a mistransliteration by Sacred Name advocates to fit an erroneous interpretation of John 5:43 and how Yeshua is far more accurate.
Most important, Dr. Botkin addresses that slander and criticism surrounding the name controversy in entirely non-Scriptural and not glorifying to the Holy One of Israel.
The Messiah's Hebrew name is usually transliterated as either Yeshua or Yahshua. Under normal circumstances I would not bother to write an article about something as trivial as the difference between the vowel sounds e and a. There is a need to address the subject, though, because some people who use the Yahshua form say untrue things about those who use the Yeshua form. The opponents of the Yeshua form claim that this pronunciation is the result of a Jewish conspiracy to hide the Savior's true name. Those who call the Messiah Yeshua are accused of perpetuating a Jewish conspiracy and denying His name or degrading Him by their use of the Yeshua form. If you have never read or heard these outlandish accusations, you probably will eventually. From time to time I receive personal letters to this effect....
The name Yeshua is literally a transliteration of the Messiah’s name. When one says, ‘Yeshua’ he is speaking Hebrew. This is the name that all the Apostles would have known Him by and what His mother would have called Him.1 Literally, it’s pronounced Yea-shu-ah, the ‘Yea’ rhyming with the ‘ay’ in ‘say,’ although many pronounce it Yih’shua, which is also acceptable. In the Tanach (the Hebrew ‘Old Testament’) the Hebrew name of Messiah is seen in 29 places, mostly in Ezra and Nehemiah.2 In these places the name Yeshua is easily seen in English Bibles as Jeshua, which is the shortened form for the Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua). The name Yeshua was used at least five hundred years before Messiah was born.
The name ‘Jesus’ comes into English from the Greek New Testament. The Greek Yea’sous is a semitransliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua. The Greek alphabet didn’t have the ‘sh’ sound to fully transliterate the Hebrew name Yeshua into Greek. Because of this the best that Paul and the other writers of the New Testament could do was to write Yeasous. (The final ‘s’ sound is the sigma showing that the name is masculine.) So, instead of a possible Yea’sue’ah it became Yea’sue’ous (i.e. Yea’sous).
Daniel Botkin pinpoints the interchangeableness of the names, Joshua and Jesus, noting that Neh. 8:17 has Yeshua (Jesus) for Yehoshua (Joshua).3 Joshua’s name in Greek is also Yeasous and is seen in the Septuagint (Josh. 1:12; 2:11; 3:1; 4:4, etc.), which predates Messiah’s birth by more than 200 years. Botkin also says that this, too, is proof that ‘Yeasous has no connection to Zeus’4 for the Jewish Sages, who wrote the Septuagint, would have been well aware of the pagan god by that name and wouldn’t have used those Greek letters to form Joshua’s name if they had thought there was a connection to it (or to ‘Hail Zeus!’ as some wrongly infer). These wrong concepts are the product of people who don’t know Hebrew or Greek.
The following reveals how the English name of Jesus came to be from the Hebrew Yeshua and the
“The English name Jesus derives from the Late Latin name Iesus, which transliterates the Koine Greek name Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs. In the Septuagint and other Greek-language Jewish texts, such as the writings of Josephus and Philo of Alexandria, Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs is the standard Koine Greek form used to translate both of the Hebrew names: Yehoshua and Yeshua. Greek Ἰησοῦς or Iēsoûs is also used to represent the name of Joshua son of Nun in the New Testament passages Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8.”5
“During the second Temple period (from 538 BC—70 AD), Yeshua first became a known form of the name Yehoshua. All occurrences of Yeshua in the Hebrew Bible are in I Chron. 24:11, II Chron. 31:15, Ezra, and Nehemiah where it is transliterated into English as Jeshua.”6
“In English the Name has gone through some interesting changes reflecting its origin from the Greek Yeasous. In Middle English (1066–1450 A.D.) the Name was written as IHS ‘an abbreviation of (the) Greek IHSOYS (‘Iesous’).’7 In the 16th century the Name was Iesu or Iesus and in William Tyndale’s 1526 New Testament we find Mt. 1:1 being written as ‘The boke off the generacion off Ihesus Christ,’ with Mt. 8:29 as ‘O Iesu the sonne off God.’”8
In the 17th century the J replaced the I to make Jesu. By the 18th century the ‘s’ was added to make our familiar ‘Jesus.’9 The point of this is that the name Jesus has evolved linguistically directly from the ancient Greek New Testament which was a proper way of saying Yeshua in Greek. Changing Messiah’s Hebrew name to Yeasous was not unbiblical or a sin. It was the Greek way of saying Yeshua.
The topics which we choose for our monthly letters to you, our beloved partners, are not random or capricious, but bathed in prayer. We try to follow the leading of the Ruach ha Kodesh, to the best of our ability to hear Him. This month's letter is a good example of the Lord's leading. For years we have been discussing the various opinions concerning the NAME of Elohim and the NAME of our Saviour. We receive a considerable amount of mail on this topic. As Messianic Jews we are especially interested in seeking truth from a Hebrew roots perspective. However, wanting to avoid controversy, and desiring to promote unity, we have never addressed the issue of the NAME.
Last month, the letter you received from us went to the printer with a red heart that said: "Be Mine in '99, signed, Yeshua." It left the printers as: "Be Mine in '99, Yashua." We were shocked! How did the "e" become an "a"? And why? Then we realized that Elohim was saying: Address the issue in your next letter. Jamie said to Neil, "O.K. Let's do it, but we must also tell them that a rose by any other name is still a rose!" That day Jamie opened a letter from a partner in Los Angeles, California, originally from Rosario, Argentina!, who began her letter to us as follows: "Greetings in the sweet name of Jesus - or Yeshua - A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So, with that thought as an introduction, we will briefly delve into this challenging topic...
Surrounding the Sacred Name issue is what the original given Hebrew name of the Messiah was. Virtually every Christian scholar will agree that He did not go by the name Jesus,simply because Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesous (Ihsous) and that the English language did not exist 2,000 years ago.
The Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), was Jewish in a purely First Century context which means that He must have had a Hebrew/Aramaic name. The Most common Hebrew derivation that is used today for the Messiah's name by both Christians and Messianic Believers alike for this is the name Yeshua ([wvy). The Hebrew ([wvy) was used by F. Delitzch in his Hebrew translation of the New Testament and is confirmed by the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew in Matthew 1:21:
"She will bear a son and you will call his name Yeshua because he will save my people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21, HGM).
Yeshua ([wvy) is the standard Hebrew derivation used for the name of the Messiah by today's Messianic Jews and evangelical Christian community. Some Sacred Name proponents, but not most also use it...
The Name is represented by the Hebrew letters Yod-Heh-Wav-Heh (יהוה). It is often referred to in Judaism as the "Unutterable Name".
In scripture, this Name is used when discussing Elohim's relationship to humanity, and when emphasizing his qualities of loving kindness and mercy. It is frequently shortened to Yah (Yod-Heh), Yahu or Yeho (Yod-Heh-Waw), especially when used in combination with names or phrases, as in Yehoshua (Joshua, meaning "the Lord is my Salvation"), and Halleluyah ("praise the Lord").
It is evident from scripture that Elohim's Name was pronounced in normal worship and discussion. Many common Hebrew names contain "Yah" or "Yahu," part of Elohim's four-letter Name. The Name was also pronounced as part of daily services in the Temple.
The Mishnah confirms that there was no prohibition against pronouncing The Name in ancient times. In fact, the Mishnah recommends using Elohim's Name as a routine greeting to a fellow Jew (Berakhot 9:5).
Unger's Bible Dictionary says that inscriptions from the 1st and 2nd century B.C. Indicate that Yahweh was the Name used by the Hebrews. (p. 1177)
The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901 says, "In the early period of the second temple the Name was still in common use, ....... At the beginning of the Hellenistic era, however, the use of the Name was reserved for the temple ...... It appears that the priests were allowed to pronounce the Name at the benediction only in the temple; elsewhere they were obliged to use the appellative name of "Adonai" .... Pronunciation of the Name by the temple priests ... also gradually fell into disuse. Tosef Sotah "from the time Simon the Just died [this is the traditional expression for the beginning of the Hellenistic period], the priests refrained from blessing the people with the Name. Formerly they used to greet each other with the ineffable Name; When the decline of the study of the law came the elders mumbled the Name." Vol.1 p. 201-202
The Name began to be suppressed when Israel went into dispersion among the pagan nations in 586 B.C.. The Babylonians referred to them as “Yahudim” and to ridicule them began to call them “Yahoo's”. Hearing the Name blasphemed on the lips of pagans was so offensive, the use of it became avoided. Over time what was an avoidance of saying the Name, to keep it from being taken in vain, evolved into it being banned by the rabbis in 400 BC as a result of Hellenistic influence.
This came from the pagan concept in the secret mysteries, of hiding the name of the 'god' to all but the initiates. They adopted this from the Babylonians and the Greeks which each had held their period of dominion over Israel, one after the other. Later further restrictions were imposed, making only the high priest able to pronounce the Name on the Day of Atonement. From this time onwards in 290 BC, if any other than the high priest pronounced the Name it meant a death sentence....
Almost 7,000 times in the English translations of the original Hebrew Texts the translators take out the Sacred name of our Creator יהוה and replace it with either the word Elohim or Lord.
The Father tells us what his personal name is for all of eternity; Exo 3:15 And Elohim said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, יהוה, the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial from generation to generation.
The third commandment tells us “You shall not take the name of יהוה your Elohim in vain.” In vain means to change, falsify or to make common. A child could see that taking out the personal name of יהוה or in Hebrew, it is the letters Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey, almost 7,000 times and replacing it with a generic title of lord or god is definitely breaking the third commandment.
So our next question is how do we pronounce the name of יהוה? After the Babylonian captivity, the Rabbi’s felt this name to be to sacred to say and started to hide the phonetic pronunciation of the name יהוה. The Talmud tells us that they even wrote it incorrectly so that if someone was reading the name they would not accidentally pronounce it.
What they started to do was take the vowels from Adonia (Hebrew word translated as Lord) and mix it with the consonants for יהוה and come up with Jehovah. They only used Jehovah so no one could pronounce the name correctly. Very easily you could see that Jehovah would not be the correct pronunciation of the sacred name as there is no letter “J” in Hebrew language and in Hebrew the name” Hovah” comes from Strong’s Concordance # 1943 and means ruin or mischief. The name of our Heavenly Father is not ruin or mischief. Also Jehovah or Yehovah is grammatically impossible in the Hebrew language. Please refer to the many references at the end of this article.
Another wrong misconception on the pronunciation of the name of יהוה that has come up recently is Yahuah. In Hebrew a vav can be a consonant or a vowel but can not be both. So pronouncing יהוה as Yahuah you are using the vav first as a vowel and then by putting another vowel after it, it goes against the grammatical laws of Hebrew....
One of the maladies of modern Judaism is the strict prohibition against uttering the name of the Creator. The modern Rabbinic law code Mishnah Berurah explains:
This is hardly a modern innovation. It appears already in the early 3rd century CE in the Mishnah tractate of Sanhedrin:
"The following have no portion in the world to come: ... Abba Saul says: Also one who pronounces the divine name as it is written." (Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1)
It would be a mistake to assume this absolute prohibition concerning the name goes back to Biblical times. The Talmud itself reports how the ban started:
"The [Seleucid] Greeks decreed that the name of Elohim may not be spoken aloud; but when the Hasmoneans grew in strength and defeated them they decreed that the name of Elohim be used even in contracts... when the Rabbis heard about this they said, 'Tomorrow this person will pay his debt and the contract will be thrown on a garbage heap' so they forbade its use in contracts." (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 18b)
We see that the prohibition to use the name of יהוה began as one of the anti-Torah decrees enacted by the Seleucid Greek tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BCE. This was part of Antiochus IV's policy of Hellenizing the Jews, that is, turning them into Greeks. The same decree included a ban on circumcision and Sabbath and a requirement that every Jew partake in the pig-sacrifices to Zeus and Apollo. The Hasmoneans, under the leadership Judah Maccabee, eventually defeated the Greeks and re-dedicated the Temple on the first Chanukah in 165 BCE. According to the Talmud, the Hasmoneans annulled the anti-Torah decrees of the Greeks. Not only did the Hasmoneans restore the use of the name of יהוה, but they enacted a law of their own requiring the use of the name of יהוה in contracts so that every Jew would regain the habit of using the divine name. But the Rabbis were opposed to this Hasmoneans decree and banned the use of the name in contracts.
This was not the first time the Rabbis opposed the Hasmoneans. After Judah the Maccabee died the Hasmoneans continued to rule Judea until 37 BCE serving as both kings and high priests. The early Hasmonean rulers were all Sadducees and therefore the Rabbis opposed them. 1 The Sadducees are best known for their denial of the Resurrection but this was only the opinion of one faction of Sadducees who gained predominance in late Second Temple times. The main difference between the early Sadducees and the Pharisees was concerning the question of the Oral Torah. Josephus reports:
"What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers." (Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6 [Whiston Translation])....
This is just part of the passage of Isaiah 53:5, which is quoted over and over by the Word of Faith Movement to support their doctrine which claims physical healing, along with eternal life, is available to all believers because of the Atonement work of Messiah Yeshua. Here is the entire passage in Isaiah:
Isaiah 53:5 - But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
In this article I will answer the question which many have debated in times past: "is physical healing included in the Atonement?" The answer is...YES! Before you think that I have jumped on the Word of Faith bandwagon, let me explain, because there is basis in scripture to support this claim however, it's not quite the same as the Word of Faith Movement teaches, in fact, it's the exact opposite of what Word of Faith teaches!
To really understand what is being stated in Isaiah 53:5, one needs only
to look at the verse. It is obviously referring to Messiah and His
atonement work of the cross. The question that must be asked: is
Isaiah 53:5 speaking of our physical healing in this life
when it says "and with his stripes we
are healed?" Let's answer this question by going directly
to the source the scriptures themselves!...