Yeshua (name)

Yeshua (name)

:"For the article on the person, teaching, and acts of Jesus Christ, see the Jesus article. For information on the various adherents to the religious teachings of Jesus, see the articles on Christianity and Messianic Judaism. For the article on the Hebrew term 'Yeshu' which may or may not refer to Jesus, see Yeshu".

Yeshua, spelled _he. יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēšûă‘) in Hebrew, was a common name among Jews of the Second Temple Period, and is believed by some scholars [cite book
last =Stern
first =David
title =Jewish New Testament Commentary
publisher =Jewish New Testament Publications
date =1992
location =Clarksville, Maryland
pages =4-5
] and religious groups [ "Origin of the Name Jesus Christ" in "The Catholic Encyclopedia"] ] to be the Hebrew or Aramaic name for Jesus. It is extensively used by Messianic Jews and Hebrew Christians, as well as others, who wish to use what they believe to be the original Hebraic pronunciation of Jesus' name. This pronunciation and spelling, as with many religious and scholarly issues, remains the subject of ongoing debate.


Among the Jews of the Second Temple Period, the Biblical Aramaic/Hebrew name _he. יֵשׁוּעַ "Yeshua`" was common: the Hebrew Bible mentions several individuals with this name. This name is a feature of biblical books written in the post-Exilic period (Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles) and was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Strong's Concordance connects the name _he. יֵשׁוּעַ Yeshua`, in the English form Jeshua (as used in multiple instances in Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles), with the verb "to save" . ["The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers 1990)] . This comports with Matthew 1:21: "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (NASB).

The name _he. יֵשׁוּעַ "Yeshua" (transliterated in the English Old Testament as Jeshua) is a late form of the Biblical Hebrew name _he. יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshua (Joshua), and spelled with a waw in the second syllable. The Late Biblical Hebrew spellings for earlier names often contracted the theophoric element "Yeho-" to "Yo-".Thus _he. יהוחנן Yehochanan contracted to _he. יוחנן Yochanan. [ David Talmshir, "Rabbinic Hebrew as Reflected in Personal Names" in "Scripta Hierosolymitana: Publications of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem", vol. 37 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press: Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1998)] However, there is no name (aside from Yehoshua`) in which Yeho- became Ye-.

The name Yehoshua has the form of a compound of "Yeho-" and "shua": Yeho- _he. יְהוֹ is another form of _he. יָהוּ "Yahu", a theophoric element standing for the personal name of God YHWH, and _he. שׁוּעַ "shua" is a noun meaning "a cry for help", "a saving cry", [ " _he. שׁוּעַ", Ernest Klein, "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language" (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company 1987), where it means "a cry for help".] [ " _he. שׁוּעַ", William L. Holladay, "A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament" (Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing 1971), where it means "a cry for help".] [ " _he. שָׁוַע", M. Jastrow, "Dictionary of the Talmud" reprinted (Jerusalem: Khorev 1990), where _he. שׁוּעַ is explained by the verb "to cry for help",] that is, a shout given when in need of rescue. Together the name would then literally mean, "'God' is a saving-cry," that is, shout to God when in need of help.

Another explanation for the name Yehoshua is that it comes from the root _he. ישע yod-shin-`ayin, meaning "to deliver, save, or rescue". According to the Book of Numbers verse 13:16, the name of Joshua son of Nun was originally "Hoshea`" _he. הוֹשֵעַ, and the name "Yehoshua`" _he. יְהוֹשֻׁעַ is usually spelled the same but with a yod added at the beginning. "Hoshea`" certainly comes from the root _he. ישע, "yasha", yod-shin-`ayin (in the hif`il form the yod becomes a waw), and not from the word _he. שוע shua` (Jewish Encyclopedia [cite book
title =Jewish Encyclopedia
publisher =Funk and Wagnalls
date =1901-1906
location =entry JOSHUA (JEHOSHUA)
url =
] ) although ultimately both roots appear to be related.

In the 1st century, Philo of Alexandria in a Greek exposition offers this understanding of Moses’ reason for the name change of the biblical hero Jehoshua/Joshua son of Nun from Hoshea [similar to hoshia` meaning "He rescued"] to Yehoshua in commemoration of his salvation: "And Ιησους refers to salvation of the Lord" [Ιησους or Iesous being the Greek form of the name] (polytonic|Ἰησοῦ δὲ σωτηρία κυρίου) ("On the Change of Names" 21.121).

Similarly, the Septuagint renders Ben Sira as saying (in the Greek form of the name): "Ιησους the son of Naue [Yehoshua Ben Nun] who "according to his name" became great unto [the] salvation/deliverance of his chosen ones" (polytonic|Ἰησοῦς Ναυῆ .. ὃς ἐγένετο κατὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ μέγας ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ) (Ben Sira 46:1-2). However, Ben Sira originally wrote in Hebrew in the 2nd century BCE, and the only extant Hebrew manuscript for this passage has "in his days" ( _he. בימיו), not "according to his name" (which would be _he. כשמו in Hebrew), [cite book
last = Segel
first = Moshe Tsvi
title =Sefer Ben-Sira Hash-Shalem
publisher =Mosad Byalik
date =1953
location =Chapter 46 verse 2
pages =317
] and thus does not comment on the name Yehoshua as connoting _he. יְּשׁוּעָה "deliverance": "Yehoshua Ben Nun, who was formed to be "in his days" a great deliverer for his chosen ones" ( _he. יהושע בן נון... אשר נוצר להיות בימיו תשועה גדלה לבחיריו). Possibly, the translators understood the phrase "was formed in his days" to refer to being transformed by his name change, and thus has "according to his name" as a paraphrastic translation, or else they were working from a different text.


The yodh is vocalized with the Hebrew vowel, tsere, a long e as in "neighbor" (but not diphthongized) not with a shva (as Y'shua) or segol (Yesh-shua). The final consonant is the voiced pharyngeal fricative ayin - ע (a rough breathing guttural sound not found in Greek or English) sometimes transcribed by " ` " (Yeshua`). The "a" represents the patach genuvah ("furtive" patach) indicating the consonant `ayin is pronounced after the "a" vowel, and the word's intonation is moved to the middle syllable (the characteristics of the furtive patach can be seen in other words, such as ruach. [] Thus, it is pronounced something like yay-SHOO-a`.

Yeshua as the original name for Jesus

The claim that the form "Yeshua" is the original name for Jesus is a subject of debate. The English name "Jesus" derives from the Late Latin name " _la. Iesus", which transliterates from the Koine Greek name polytonic|Ἰησοῦς " _gr. Iēsoûs"

In the Septuagint and other Greek-language Jewish texts, such as the writings of Josephus and Philo of Alexandria, polytonic|Ἰησοῦς " _gr. Iēsoûs" is the standard Koine Greek form used to translate both of the Hebrew names: "Yehoshua" and "Yeshua". (It was also used to translate the name "Hoshea" in one of the three verses where this referred to Joshua the son of Nun--Deut. 32:44.)

During the second Temple period (beginning 538 B.C.E – 70 C.E.), "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. Two of these men (Joshua the son of Nun and Joshua the High Priest) are mentioned in other books of the Hebrew Bible where they are instead called "Yehoshua" [Price, James D. [ Yehoshua, Yeshua or Yeshu; Which one is the name of Jesus in Hebrew?] , accessed March 6, 2006.] (transliterated into English as Joshua).

The earlier form "Yehoshua" did not disappear, however, and remained in use as well. In the post-exilic books, Joshua the son of Nun is called both Yeshua bin-Nun (Nehemiah 8:17) and Yehoshua (I Chronicles 7:27). The short form "Yeshua" was used for Jesus son of Sirach in Hebrew fragments of the Book of Sirach. (Some concern remains over whether these fragments faithfully represent the original Hebrew text or are instead a later translation back into Hebrew. [William Chomsky, "Hebrew: The Eternal Language", Jewish Publication Society of America, 1957 p.140] ) The earlier form "Yehoshua" saw revived usage from the Hasmonean period onwards, although the name "Yeshua" is still found in letters from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE).

In the context of the documentary entitled "The Lost Tomb of Jesus", archeologist Amos Kloner stated that the name Yeshua was then a popular form of the name Yehoshua and was "one of the common names in the time of the Second Temple". [cite journal
last =Mendel
first =Roi
title =Ha-"chasifa" shel qever Yeshu: qiddum mkhirot
journal =Yedioth Ahronoth
date =25 Feb. 2007
url =,7340,L-3368783,00.html
accessdate = 2007-02-27
] In discussing whether or not it was remarkable to find a tomb with the name of Jesus (the particular ossuary in question bears the inscription "Yehuda bar Yeshua"), he pointed out that the name had been found 71 times in burial caves from that time period. [cite journal
last =Pilkington
first =Ed
coauthors = Rory McCarthy
title =Is this really the last resting place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene - and their son?
journal =The Guardian
date =27 Feb. 2007
url =,,2022252,00.html
accessdate = 2007-02-27

In the Talmud, only one reference is made to "Yeshua", in verbatim quotation from the Hebrew Bible regarding Jeshua son of Jozadak (elsewhere called Joshua son of Josedech). The Talmud does refer to several people named Yehoshua from before (e.g. Joshua ben Perachyah) and after Jesus (e.g. Joshua ben Hananiah).

Clement of Alexandria and St. Cyril of Jerusalem considered the Greek form "Iesous" to be the original, even going so far as to interpret it as a true Greek name and not simply a transliteration of Hebrew.

However, the New Testament describes Jesus as part of a Jewish milieu, reading the Hebrew Bible and debating with Pharisees over interpretations of the Jewish legal tradition. The Gospels record several Aramaic words or expressions spoken by him -- see Aramaic of Jesus. Moreover, Eusebius reports that Jesus' student Matthew wrote a gospel "in the Hebrew language". (Every time the word "Hebrew" is used to describe a word or phrase in the New Testament, the word or phrase in actuality is what we today call Aramaic, a sister language to Hebrew. [cite book
title =Wycliffe Bible Dictionary
publisher =Hendrickson Publishers
date =1975
location =entry HEBREW LANGUAGE
] )

An argument in favor of the Hebrew form _he. ישוע "Yeshua" is that the Old Syriac Bible (c. 200 CE) and the Peshitta preserves this same spelling using the equivalent Aramaic letters _ar. ܝܫܘܥ (Yēšū‘) to the Hebrew letters of Yeshua (Syriac does not use the 'furtive' pathach, so the 'a' vowel is not used). This is still the spelling and pronunciation used in the West Syriac dialect, whereas East Syriac has rendered the pronunciation of the same letters "Išô‘". These texts were translated from the Greek, but the name is not a simple transliteration of the Greek form because its "sh" sound is not expressed in the Greek (although the Greek has a letter sounding like "s"), and ends with the pharyngeal "‘ayin" sound, also not found in Greek. It can be argued that the Aramaic speakers who used this name had a continual connection to the Aramaic-speaking apostles and disciples of Jesus, and thus were able to accurately preserve the actual name used for him.

"Yeshua" was used as the name for Jesus in the Yosippon; however, its usage here is a translation back into the Hebrew "Yeshua" from the Greek. The "Toledot Yeshu" narratives combine the person or persons designated Yeshu in the Talmud with Jesus, but relate that his original name was "Yehoshua."

The Arabic name for Jesus used by Christians, " _ar. Yasū‘", derives from Yeshua. However, the Qur'an and other Muslim sources instead use a traditional Islamic title _ar. عيسى "`Īsā", which can be transliterated as _he. עִישָׂי (the second ya is silent) and is similar to the Arabic form _ar. عيسو, _ar. Isu, of _he. עֵשָׂו "‘Esaw", that is, the biblical patriarch Esau. Some Islamic scholars argue that it derives from the East-Syriac pronunciation "Isho‘". [ Juferi, "Mohd Elfie Nieshaem" [ The Name of Jesus (pbuh)] , accessed March 6, 2006] However, the Aramaic has the letter ‘Ayin only at the end, whereas the Arabic has its equivalent letter, ‘Ayn, only at the beginning. This sort of transposing of the Aramaic ‘Ayin is linguistically improbable. The Islamic scholar Ahmad Deedat, though, held that the Quranic name is actually a cognate of Esau (based on the acoustic similarity). [ Ahmad Deedat, Christ in Islam, Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI), pg. 7-8.]


ee also

*Hoshea, Hosea
*Hosiah, Josiah, Yosiah

External links

* [ Exposing the "Yeshu'a" Name Game] A counter missionary article that argues that it is far from proven that the original name of Jesus was "Yeshua" and moreover unlikely.
* [ A different view of the name Yeshua] The name and the history
* [ Etymology of the name "Jesus"]

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