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. He also clearly establishes the fact that the English name
"Jesus" has absolutely no pagan connection and is simply a derivation of
"Yesous," the Greek transliteration of "Yeshua." 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 Messiahs 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 "ah." 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 Saviors
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 proponents of the Yahshua form claim that the Messiahs name was the
same as Joshuas, written [vwhy or [wvwhy (Strongs #3091). The only problem is
that neither of these Hebrew spellings of Joshuas name can possibly be pronounced
"Yahshua." The third letter in Joshuas name (reading from right to left)
is the letter vav (w) and a vav cannot be silent. The letter vav must
be pronounced as either a "v" or an "o" or an "u." (In the
case of Joshua, it takes an "o" sound, giving us "Ye-ho-SHU-a."
Strongs confirms this pronunciation.) For a name to be pronounced
"Yahshua," it would have to be spelled [wv--hy, and no such name exists anywhere
in the Hebrew Bible. You dont have to just take my word for it, though. Dr. Danny
Ben-Gigi says of the Yahshua form that "there is no such name in Hebrew"
and that "people invented it to fit their theology." Dr.
Ben-Gigi is an Israeli and the former head of Hebrew programs at Arizona State University.
He is the author of the book First Steps in Hebrew Prayers, and he designed and
produced the "Living Israeli Hebrew" language-learning course. Dr. David Bivin,
a Christian, says that the Yahshua form "is rooted in a
misunderstanding." Dr. Bivin is a renowned Hebrew scholar and
teacher and author of Fluent Biblical Hebrew.
I do not know of a single individual that knows Hebrew well enough to actually read it
and understand it and converse in it who uses the Yahshua form.
Please do not misunderstand. A person does not need to know Hebrew and Greek
linguistics in order to be spiritual. However, if a person is going to take it upon
himself to instruct others about subjects of a linguistic and Hebraic nature, he should
know the Hebrew language and he should know some basics about linguistics. This is
especially true if he is going to use his Hebrew-based linguistic teachings to accuse his
brethren of being part of a "Jewish conspiracy" to "deny the true name of
To people who actually know Hebrew people like Dr. Ben-Gigi, Dr. Bivin, and
others it is very obvious that those who insist on the Yahshua form know
very little about the Hebrew language. The only Hebrew that most of these self-appointed
scholars know is what they can learn from a Strongs Concordance.
Strongs is a great study tool and a fine place to start, but it is not a means by
which a person can learn the Hebrew language.
The English form Jesus is derived from the New Testament Greek name Ihsouß,
pronounced "Yesous." According to Strongs, Yesous (Strongs
#2424) is "of Hebrew origin" and can be traced back to Joshuas Hebrew
name, Yehoshua (#3091, [wvwhy). But how do we get the Greek Yesous from the
Hebrew Yehoshua? Someone armed with nothing more than a Strongs Concordance
may have difficulty answering that question. Someone who reads the Bible in Hebrew,
though, knows that the name Joshua sometimes appears in its shortened form, Yeshua
([wvy) in Neh. 8:17 it is apparent even in English: "Jeshua the son of Nun."
(The letter J was pronounced like a Y in Old English.) Strong does not tell
the reader that the Greek Yesous is actually transliterated from this shortened
Hebrew form, Yeshua, and not directly from the longer form Yehoshua. The
process from "Yehoshua" to "Jesus" looks like this:
Hebrew Yehoshua à Hebrew Yeshua
Hebrew Yeshua à Greek Iesous
Greek Iesous à English Jesus
There is no "sh" sound in Greek, which accounts for the middle "s"
sound in Yesous. The "s" at the end of the Greek name is a
grammatical necessity, to make the word declinable.
In Neh. 8:17, Joshuas name is 100% identical to the name which todays
Messianic Jews use for the Messiah, Yeshua ([wvy). Strongs confirms this
pronunciation, and tells us that there were ten Israelites in the Bible who bore this name
(#3442). Therefore the shortening of Yehoshua to Yeshua predates the
Christian era by at least 500 years, and cannot be the result of a Jewish conspiracy to
hide the Saviors true name. To claim that the shortened form
Yeshua is the result of a Jewish conspiracy is to ignore the facts of history and
the facts of the Hebrew Scriptures. The form Yeshua existed for several hundred years
before the Messiah was even born. Even in the pre-Christian Septuagint, we see the Greek
form IHSOUS (Yesous) in the title of the Book of Joshua. (This is also proof that Yesous
has no connection to the pagan god Zeus.)
So where did the transliteration Yahshua come from? This form of the name can be
traced back to the beginnings of the Sacred Name movement, a movement that grew out of the
Church of God, 7th Day, in the late 1930s. I have in my files an article entitled, "A
Brief History of the Name Movement in America" by L.D. Snow, a Sacred Name believer. According to this article, "John Briggs and Paul Penn were the
FIRST to pronounce and use the name Yahshua" (emphasis Snows). This was in 1936
and in 1937, the article states. No information is given about how Briggs and Penn came up
with this (mis)translation.
Why is the Yahshua form used by no one but Sacred Name believers and people who
have been influenced by Sacred Name believers? Probably because no such name exists in the
Hebrew Bible and, to my knowledge, no such name exists in any extra-Biblical Hebrew
literature. It appears that Dr. Ben-Gigi is correct when he says that people invented the
name Yahshua to fit their theology.
I have read a lot of literature from writers who seek to expose the "errors"
of those who refer to the Messiah as Yeshua. The only thing these writers actually
expose is their lack of knowledge. I could give several examples of statements which are
absolutely ridiculous. I do not have the space in this publication to give all the
examples I have in my files, and I do not wish to embarrass sincere people for their
honest but misguided efforts. There are some examples, though, that grossly misrepresent
the facts, and some of these examples need to be exposed.
In one popular booklet published by a well-known Sacred Name organization, the
anonymous author makes this statement: "Most reference works agree with Kittels
Theological Dictionary of the NT statement on page 284, which states that the name
Yahoshua was shortened after the exile to the short form Yahshua." This
statement makes it sound like Kittel uses the forms Yahoshua and Yahshua. I
went to the library and looked at this page in Kittels. The words Yahoshua
and Yahshua do not appear even one time on this page. This can be verified by going
to a library and looking up this page. (Its in Volume III.) If your library does not
have Kittels, I can send a photocopy of this page to any skeptics.
This same Sacred Name organization which misrepresents Kittels also
misrepresented a Jewish author. In a magazine article written by this organizations
main leader, a lengthy segment is quoted from a book published by KTAV, a Jewish
publishing house. When copying this quotation for his magazine article, this Sacred Name
author freely used Yahshua, making it appear tat the Jewish author used that
transliteration in his book. I got the book from the library, though, and discovered that
"Yahshua" did not appear in the book. I wrote to this Sacred Name leader asking
for an explanation. I told him that unless he had some other explanation, I could conclude
one of three things: either he deliberately misrepresented the facts, or he did it
accidentally, or the book I got from the library was a different version from his, in
which case I would owe him an apology. My letter was sent September 1, 1997, and I am
still waiting for a reply. I will not embarrass this man by mentioning his name or the
name of his ministry. It is not my intention to embarrass anyone.
I am not writing this article to persuade people to quit saying "Yahshua." If
people want to continue using a mistransliteration that was erroneously contrived by early
Sacred Name pioneers who didnt know Hebrew, it really doesnt matter to me. I
dont that the substitution of an "ah" sound for an "e" sound
matters much to the Lord, either. What does matter, though, is the spreading of false
accusations against Messianic Jews and others who called the Messiah "Yeshua."
Paul warned Timothy about "doting about questions and strifes of words,
whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising [suspicions]" (1 Tim.
6:4). Unfortunately, this is an accurate description of what goes on among many people in
the Sacred Name movement. Personally, I would rather fellowship with non-contentious
people who call the Messiah "Jesus" than with contentious people who insist that
everyone call Him "Yahshua."