This article is included as is from a booklet by the same title published by Assemblies of Yahweh in Messiah, Columbia (now Rocheport), Missouri; first printed in 1981, revised printing 1982. Edited for HTML inclusion at this website only as necessary. Inclusion of this document at the Consider This website in no way indicates or implies endorsement, affiliation, or support of, with, or between the Assemblies of Yahweh in Messiah and the publishers of the website. The information concerning the introduction of the letter J into the English languages is factual history and is very provable. The doctrinal statements contained in this article must be taken at face value and the reader is responsible for determining the scriptural accuracy of those statements.
Names and other errors, such as “Yahweh,” “Yehowshu'a,” and “Messiah” have not been corrected. The actual names, such as Yahuwah and Yahushua and the evidence for them can be found at my web page, www.considerthis.net.
The Missing J
Why “Jesus” and “Jehovah” are Incorrect
“Precious name, oh how sweet,” sing many voices as people gather each week to praise and worship the Savior and Redeemer of Israel. But the name they sing praises to is not the Messiah’s name and never was. The name “Jesus” is a combination of the Greek “Iesous” and the Latin version employing the letter J. This name commonly used in Christianity did not exist until about 500 years ago.
The French philosopher, historian, and religion scholar Ernest Renan stated in his book, The Life of Jesus, that the Savior never was called Jesus in His lifetime. Renan based his conclusion on his archaeological trips to the Holy Land in searching for inspiration and materials on the Savior. Renan is not the only one disclaiming the popular name of the Messiah. Proof likely exists in your own home or can easily be found in your local library. You'll find a wealth of proof in these pages--references common in any library.
References also abound that show that the Creator's name is not Jehovah. The name Jehovah is a mistake brought on by copyists, who deliberately added the vowels from “Adonai” to the Tetragrammaton (the Heavenly Father's Name in Hebrew Scriptures) in an effort to warn the reader not to enunciate the name they believed was too sacred to voice.
The Third Commandment expressly forbids misusing the sacred Name and “bringing it to nought.” Accepting a substitute certainly is not using His Name as intended. Jeremiah prophesied that the Scribes (copyists) would err:
- “How can you say, 'We are wise for we have the law of Yahweh,' when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?” Jeremiah 8:8, New International Version
All aspiring religious groups strive to be the Philadelphia assembly mentioned in Revelation chapter 3. But they overlook one of its important attributes:
- “I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name,” Revelation 3:8, NIV.
Webster's New World Dictionary says of the word “deny”:
- “To declare untrue; contradict; refuse to accept as true or right; reject as unfounded, unreal, etc.; to refuse to acknowledge as one's own; refuse to grant or give; to refuse the use of or access to; to refuse the request of (a person).”
By using substitute names, churchianity has denied the sacred Name. Let's understand why the popular names for the Creator and His Son are erroneous and how they came to be accepted.
The 'J' Didn't Exist
One of the most obvious reasons that “Jesus” and “Jehovah” are incorrect is found in their common initial letter, J. Most comprehensive dictionaries and encyclopedias demonstrate that the letter J is of recent derivation.
The Encyclopedia American contains the following on J:
The form of J was unknown in any alphabet until the 14th century. Either symbol (J, I) used initially generally had the consonantal sound of Y as in year. Gradually, the two symbols (J, I) were differentiated, the J usually acquiring consonantal force and thus becoming regarded as a consonant, and the I becoming a vowel. It was not until 1630 that the differentiation became general in England.
The letter J developed from the letter I and was used to avoid confusion. Chamber's Encyclopedia says that in medieval handwriting the small i was liable to be confused with one of the strokes of a preceding or following u. Therefore an oblique stroke and later a dot was often made over the i. Alternately, the i was prolonged below the line.
The J and its I sound is still used in the German language. In the names of the months of January, June, and July, the German keeps the “ee” sound much like our Y. For example, July is pronounced “Yulee.”
Note the substantiating comments of the Encyclopedia Americana regarding the letter J:
- It is one of the few permanent additions to those alphabets, made in medieval or modern times. More exactly, it was not an addition, but a differentiation from an existing letter, I, which in Latin, besides being a vowel (as in index), had also the consonantal value of “Y” (as in maior, pronounced “mayor”) At a later stage, the symbol “J” was used for distinctive purposes, particularly when the “I” had to be written initially (or in conjunction with another “I”).
Either symbol used initially generally had the consonantal sound of “Y” (as in year) so that the Latin pronunciation of either Ianuarius or Januarius was though the spelling was “Yanuarius.” While in some words of Hebrew and other origin (such as Hallelujah or Junker), “J” has the phonetic value of “Y.”
Because the letter J derived from the I, and had the same sound, it was classed a vowel. The letter I comes from the Greek “iota,” which is the Hebrew “yothe.” Both have a vowel sound. There is no “J” sound in the Anglo-Saxon, let alone Hebrew, and no Roman form to work from. The J was first pronounced as the I until the printing press was introduced. Gradually, the letter J acquired its own sound through French influence.
Webster's Universal Dictionary (1936) discloses the early relationship between I and J:
- As a character it was formerly used interchangeably with “i,” both letters having originally the same sound; and after the “j” sound came to be common in English, it was often written where this sound must have been pronounced. The separation of these two letters is of comparatively recent date, being brought about through the influence of the Dutch printers.
The New Book of Knowledge demonstrates that the I was derived from the Hebrew “yothe.” The yothe is the same Hebrew letter that begins Yahweh's Name. It also begins the Savior's Name Yahshua (Yehowshu'a). The sound of the yothe is “ee” or “eh.” (More on the sacred Name later in this booklet.)
The printing press soon replaced the laborious copying by the scribes the longhand editions of the Bible. The initial copies of the King James Version did not use the letter J for the Savior's Name. No evidence has come to light that shows the letter I ever had the consonantal sound of the letter J. This is shown in the New Funk and Wagnall Encyclopedia:
- Not until the middle of the 17th century did this usage become universal in English books; in the King James Bible of 1611 for example, the words Jesus and judge are invariably Iesus and iudge.
This is corroborated by the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary concerning the letter J, “The Jj types are not used in the Bible of 1611....”
Writing Followed Speech
The Oxford English Dictionary is acknowledged as the most authoritative work on the origins and meanings of words in the English language. A 12-volume work, the dictionary took 50 years to produce.
Under the entry “J,” this dictionary explains how the J received its sound:
- Some time before the 6th century, this y-sound had, by compression in articulation, and consequent development of an initial 'stop,' become a consonantal dipthong, passing through a sound (dy), akin to that of our di, de, in odious, hideous, to that represented in our phonetic symbolization (dz). At the same time, the original guttural sound of G, when followed by a front vowel, had changed to that of palatal g (gy), and then, by an advance of the point of closure, had passed through that of (dy), to the same sound (dz); so that i consonant and the so-called g 'soft' came to have, in the Romanic languages, the same identical value.
The Encyclopedia Britannica shows that the sound of the letter J was the same as the letter I:
- The original consonantal sound represented by the letter was the semi-vowel or spirant “I” (the sound of y in yacht). This passed into dy and later into the sound dz which the letter represents today.
Along with the changing pronunciation, there came the change in the alphabet to accommodate the alteration. Webster's New International Dictionary explains:
- J is a comparatively late variant from the Latin I which was used indifferently as a vowel or consonant, its consonantal value being that of English Y in yet. The form J was developed from i during the Middle Ages, and it was long used in certain positions in the word merely without regard to the sound as a consonant or vowel. But the lengthened form was often initial, and the initial was usually consonantal, so the j gradually became differentiated from i in function as well as form. It was not, however, until the 17th century that the distinction of j as a consonant and i as a vowel was fully established and the capital J introduced. In English, the regular and practically uniform sound of j as in “jet” (dzh), the same as g in “gem,” dates from the 11th century, that being the sound represented by i when consonantal in words then introduced from Old French.
J Sound Same as I Sound
In his book, Triumph of the Alphabet, author A.C. Moorhouse explains how the Y and the I (hence the J also) were all related in sound.
Furthermore, he cites how one language will borrow from another to bring the same sound across. Note his comment on page 128:
- The Semitic alphabet had no vowels, but it was essential for intelligibility that the Greek alphabet should have them. This it did by using Semitic letters which represented sounds unknown to the Greek. Semitic yod stood for the semivowel y, and it is easy to use it in Greek for the related vowel i.
Written language develops from spoken. Even today, missionaries are challenged to reduce a tribal language in some remote area to writing. It is difficult to bring across into English every vocalization in a foreign tongue using our alphabet.
The New Book of Knowledge confirms the findings of Moorhouse:
- The early history of the letter “J” is the same as the history of the letter “I.” “I” is a descendant of the ancient Phoenician and Hebrew letter “yod” and the Greek letter “iota.” The Phoenicians gave the yod a semiconsonant sound pronounced like the “Y” in yellow. While the lower case “J” of modern type was derived directly from medieval manuscripts, the capital “J” is virtually a printer's invention. The sound “J” as we know it in English today was derived when the “Y” sound eventually passed into a “dy” sound and later into the “J” sound as in juggle.
Eventually, all modern languages picked up the new sound from Latin. Under the topic “J,” Collier's Encyclopedia shows how this happened:
- Introduced as a sign for the consonantal sound of “i” in Latin words, the letter j was soon used in English, French, and Spanish to represent the sound that developed out of Latinic consonantic i in each of these three languages. This was a certain improvement, since these three sounds (y, z, dz) which all developed out of the Latin consonant i, did not exist in Latin, and the Latin alphabet had no sign for them.
If the letter J and its sound (dz) did not exist until shortly before the printing of the King James Version of the Bible, what were the names of the Heavenly Father and His Son before that time?
The Actual name
The Creator's Name Yahweh derives from the Tetragrammaton YHWH, the English equivalent of the Hebrew letters yothe, hay, waw, hay. The Tetragrammaton -- “four letters” is found in ancient Bible manuscripts. Early Christian writers such as Clement of Alexandria transliterated it into Greek as IAOUE. (Transliterate means to carry the actual sound of a word from one language to another.) The Tetragrammaton is made up of four Hebrew letters having the force of vowels, as Hebrew primers readily show. Josephus says that the Tetragrammaton appeared in the High Priest's miter (hat) and consisted of four vowels. Wars, Book V, chapter V, 7.
In Greek, the I has an “ee” sound as in machine. When we pronounce the Tetragrammaton IAOUE we get the sound “ee-ah-ou-eh.” Saying it rapidly we produce “Yah-way,” which appears as Yahweh in English.
The Tetragrammaton appears 6,823 times in Hebrew Scriptures. The short form of the sacred Name appears in one place in the King James Version: “...extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH, and rejoice before Him,” Psalm 68:4. As we have seen, the J should be a Y.
Hebrew names are transliterated into our English Bible as evidenced by many common names. Many names of Old Testament writers such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah, end with this first part (Yah) of the sacred Name. Note that they retain the “ee” sound of the I in “iah.”
Numerous secular as well as religious scholars attest that Yahweh is the correct, original Name of the Heavenly Father. Following is a listing of some of each, taken right from reference works and materials available in nearly every public library.
The New American Encyclopedia:
- “Jehovah -- (properly Yahweh) a name of the God of Israel, now widely regarded as a mis-pronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH.
- The Encyclopedia Britannica: “...the letters YHWH used in the original Hebrew Bible to represent the name of God.”
- The Oxford Cyclopedic Concordance: “Jehovah -- the name revealed to Moses at Horeb. Its real pronunciation is approximately Yahweh. The Name itself was not pronounced Jehovah before the 16th century.”
American Heritage Dictionary:
- “Yahweh -- A name for God assumed by modern scholars to be a rendering of the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton.”
Webster's new World Dictionary: “Yahweh -- God, a form of the Hebrew name in the Old Testament. See Tetragrammaton.
New Century Dictionary:
- “Jehovah -- the common European rendering of Heb. JHVH (or YHWH), representing, without vowels Heb. Jahweh (or Yahweh), a divine name... regarded by the Jews as too sacred for utterance and hence replaced in the reading of the Scriptures by Adonai or Elohim; the form Jehovah being due to a mispronunciation of Heb. JHVH with the vowels of the associated Heb. Adonai. A name of God in the Old Testament, being the Christian rendering the 'ineffable name,' JHVH in the Hebrew Scriptures.
A History of Christianity, Kenneth Scott Latourette (p.11): Israel regarded their god, Yahweh, a name mistakenly put into the English as Jehovah, as the God of the universe, the maker and ruler of heaven and earth. Other peoples had their gods, but Yahweh was regarded by these monotheists as far more powerful than they.
Encyclopedia Britannica (Micropedia, vol.10):
- Yahweh -- the personal name of the God of the Israelites...The Masoretes, Jewish biblical scholars of the Middle Ages, replaced the vowel signs that had appeared above or beneath the consonants of YHWH with the vowel signs of Adonai or of Elohim. Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used the form Yahweh, thus this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never really lost. Greek transcriptions also indicate that Yhwh should be pronounced Yahweh.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature:
- “Jehovah -- the imperfect of Jahve (Yahwe or Jehovah or Jahwe (Yahweh)). He is self existing.” Vol. 3, p. 901.
- “Rabbinical Literature -- The name Yahweh is considered the Name proper.” Vol. 9, p. 162.
Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary:
- “And the name above all others that was looked upon as the name, the personal name of God, was YAHWEH.” Vol. 1, p. 172.
The International Bible Encyclopedia of the King James Version:
- “Jehovah -- It is believed that the correct pronunciation of this word is 'Yahweh.'"
New Standard Bible Dictionary:
- “Jehovah -- properly Yahweh...the form 'Jehovah' is impossible, according to the strict principles of Hebrew vocalization.”
Davis Dictionary of the Bible:
- “Jehovah -- The Tetragrammaton is generally believed to have been pronounced Jahweh, Yahweh...”
A Greek-English Lexicon:
- “Kurios -- equals 'Yahweh.' “ p. 1013.
Jewish Quarterly Review:
- “In the biblical period Yahweh was a proper name, the God of Israel, an ethnic God.” April 1969, Dr. Zolomon Zeitlin.
New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2:
- In the OT the words el, eloah, and elohim, from related roots, are generic designations of God. Alongside and alternating with them stands the individual personal name Yahweh.
Review and Herald, December 16, 1971:
- Yahweh is the name that identifies the God of the Hebrews. Where the Philistines worshiped Dagon, the Egyptians, Amon, and the Ammonites, Milcom, the Hebrews worshiped Yahweh. The title 'god' (elohim) is applied to false deities in the Scriptures as well as to Yahweh, hence is not a term by which one can be distinguished from the others. When the voice said, 'I am Yahweh,' there was no doubt in any listener's mind as to the identity of the speaker. He was the god of the Hebrews. So far as is known, no other peoples called their god by this name.
'Jehovah' Wrong From the Start
”Jehovah” is a hybrid name manufactured as a result of a fear to pronounce the sacred Name Yahweh.
In chapter 4 of the introduction to The Emphasized Bible, Joseph Rotherham explains how the sacred Name was avoided:
- It is willingly admitted that the suppression has not been absolute; at least so far as Hebrew and English are concerned. The Name, in its four essential letters, was reverently transcribed by the Hebrew copyists, and therefore was necessarily placed before the eye of the Hebrew reader. The latter, however, was instructed not to pronounce it, but to utter instead a less sacred name -- Adonay or Elohim. In this way the Name was not suffered to reach the ear of the listener.
Jehovah is the result of a further derailment in the convoluted efforts to avoid the Name Yahweh.
Scholars all know that Jehovah could not be the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton YHWH used for the Creator in the oldest available manuscripts.
In the preface to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, pp. 6-7, is the following about “Jehovah”: The form Jehovah is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word. The sound of Y is represented by J and the sound of W by V, as in Latin. The word “Jehovah” does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew.
A note on Shemot 3:14, taken from The Authorized Catholic Bible, says: 3:14. I am who am: apparently this utterance is the source of the word Yahweh, the proper personal name of the God of Israel.
It is commonly explained in reference to God as the absolute and necessary Being. It may be understood of God as the Source of all created beings. Out of reverence for this name, the term Adonai, “my Lord,” was later used as a substitute. The word LORD in the present version represents this traditional usage. The word “Jehovah” arose from a false reading of this name as it is written in the current Hebrew text.
More proof is found on page 15 of the preface to The Bible, An American Translation, by Smith and Goodspeed: As nearly as we can now tell, the Hebrews called their Deity by the name Yahweh, and in a shorter form, Yah, used in relatively few cases. In course of time they came to regard this name as too sacred for utterance. They therefore substituted for it the Hebrew word for “Lord.” When vowels were added to the text, the consonants of “Yahweh” were given the vowels of “Lord.”
Somewhere in the fourteenth century C.E. Christian scholars, not understanding this usage, took the vowels and consonants exactly as they were written and produced the artificial name “Jehovah” which has persisted ever since.
The Oxford English Dictionary succinctly demonstrates exactly how the word “Jehovah” became an erroneous substitution for the sacred Name Yahweh (Hebrew alphabetical characters omitted from original text): Jehovah [The English and common European representation, since the 16th c., of the Hebrew divine name (YHWH). This word (the 'sacred tetragrammaton') having come to be considered by the Jews too sacred for utterance, was pointed in the O.T. by the Masoretes with the vowels of (adonai), as a direction to the reader to substitute ADONAI for the 'ineffable name'; which is actually done by Jerome in the Vulgate translation of Shemot vi. 3, and hence by Wyclif. Students of Hebrew at the Revival of Letters took these vowels as those of the word (IHUH, JHVH) itself, which was accordingly transliterated in Latin spelling as IeHoVa(H), i.e. Iehoua'h. It is now held that the original name was IaHUe(H), i.e. Jahwe(h), and one or other of these forms is now generally used by writers upon the religion of the Hebrews. The word has generally been understood to be a derivative of the verb hawah to be, to exist, as if 'he that is', 'the self-existent', or 'the one ever coming into manifestation'; this origin is now disputed, but no conjectured derivation which has been substituted has found general acceptance.
The O.E.D. is supported by the New English Bible. On page 16 of this Bible's introduction, we read: This personal name, written with the consonants YHWH, was considered too sacred to be uttered; so the vowels for the words 'my Lord' or 'God' were added to the consonants YHWH, and the reader was warned by these vowels that he must substitute other consonants. This change having to be made so frequently, the Rabbis did not consider it necessary to put the consonants of the new reading in the margin...YHWH was read with the intruded vowels, the vowels of an entirely different word, namely 'my Lord' or 'God.' In late medieval times this mispronunciation became current as Jehova, and it was (unwittingly) taken over as Jehovah by the Reformers in Protestant Bibles.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 12, corroborates the foregoing religious sources:
- The pronunciation 'Jehovah' is an error resulting among Christians from combining the consonants YHWH with the vowels of 'adonay.'
The Jehovah's Witnesses themselves admit the “Jehovah” is inferior to “Yahweh.” On pages 16 and 20 of their book, Let Your Name Be Sanctified, are these words:
- Yahweh...is admittedly superior to Jehovah. 'The wrong spelling Jehovah occurs since about 1100' and then it offers its arguments in favor of Yahweh as 'the correct and original pronunciation.'
Their New Testament Bible translation, New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), has on p. 25 of the foreword: While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yahweh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people's familiarity with it since the 14th century.
The person credited with popularizing the name Jehovah is Peter Galatin, confessor to Pope Leo the 10th. The Oxford English Dictionary puts the date Galatins use of Jehovah at 1516 in De Arcanis Catholic Varitatis.
Rotherham has this to say about “Jehovah's” origins: The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety.
Obviously, if the first recorded use of the name Jehovah is only some 500 years old, it can't be the Name the Creator gave the Hebrews 5,000 years earlier.
The illogical fusion of the sacred Name with the vowel points of another name is shown by Rotherham:
- To give the name JHVH the vowels of the word Lord (Heb. Adonai) and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal --viz., Gormuna.
The Jews' superstitious fear of the Name led to a complete fabrication in the name Jehovah.
Was the Pronunciation Lost?
Because of the years-long efforts of scribes and others to conceal the sacred Name, some today believe that the pronunciation of the Name of the Heavenly Father has been lost. The evidence proves otherwise, however. The proper vocalization of the Name was perpetuated down through the centuries.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th Edition, vol. 12) says of “Yahweh”:
- The Rabbinic tradition that after the death of Simeon the Just (fl. 290 B.C.E.) it was no longer pronounced even on these occasions, is contradicted by the well-attested statement that in the last generations before the fall of Jerusalem (C.E. 70) it was uttered so low that the sounds were lost in the chant of the priest. After that event the liturgical use of the name ceased, but the tradition was perpetuated in the Rabbinic schools; it continued also to be employed by healers, exorcists, and magicians, and is found on many magical papyri. It is asserted by Philo that only priests might pronounce it and by Josephus that those who know it were forbidden to divulge it.
Finally the Samaritans shared the scruples of the Jews, except that they used it in judicial oaths.
The early Christians scholars therefore easily learnt the true pronunciation. Clement of Alexandria (d. 212) gives Iaove or Iaovai (or in one manuscript Iaov), Origen (d. 253-54) 'Ian, and Epiphanius (d. 404) IaBe (or Iave in one manuscript); Theodoret (d. 457) says that the Samaritans pronounced it IaBe (or Iapa)....
This new name, though at first widely known, as the Moabite Stone shows, was soon considered too sacred for daily use and confined to the Scriptures.
Outside the Old Testament Yhwh occurs only on the Moabite Stone (c. 850 B.C.E.); the usual form is YH or Yhw, occuring in unvocalized texts of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.E. These forms appear in the Old Testament sporadically as the independent Yah and regularly as Yah or Yahu at the end and Yeho of Yo at the beginning of proper names.
The Encyclopedia Judaica confirms that the pronunciation “Yahweh” was preserved:
- “The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian Church testify that the name was pronounced 'Yahweh.' This is confirmed, at least for the vowel of the first syllable of the name, by the shorter form Yah, which is sometimes used in poetry (e.g. Ex. 15:2).” New archaeological finds attest to the accuracy of the Name Yahweh.
The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia shows how important these discoveries are in regard to the veracity of the sacred Name's pronunciation:
- Yahweh: The pronunciation Yahweh of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton need no longer be based primarily on traditions preserved in late patristic sources. Both the vocalization yahwe and yahu (a shortened form used chiefly in personal names) are now confirmed by a variety of ancient New Eastern inscriptional materials from the first and second millennia B.C.E.
Yahwe was originally a finite verb derived from a causative stem of the Northwest Semitic root hwy, 'to come into being.' The divine name would thus go back to a verbal form meaning 'he causes to come into existence,' or in effect, 'he creates.'
The name Yahweh appears to have been originally the first or key word of an ancient liturgical formula which proclaimed the creative activity of the deity. No non-Israelite divine name 'Yahweh' has yet been identified certainly in ancient Near Eastern sources.
And the Son's Name?
From a study of the origin of letters that make up the word “Jesus” in our English Bibles, we can readily see that the name of the Savior underwent considerable change as it was brought from one language to another.
The name of the Redeemer of Israel, who has the only name through which man can find salvation (Acts 4:12), has been given a Latinized hybrid name that never existed in Hebrew and did not exist in English until 500 years ago.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows that the word Jesus is from the Greek “Iesous,” which according to Strong's Greek Dictionary, derives from the Hebrew Yahowshua. The vowel points that make this transliteration (sounding out) are much more recent than the actual Hebrew letters, being introduced between 600 and 900 C.E. Removing them to be consistent with the original letters, we get Yahshua (Yehowshu'a).
The first three letters, reading right to left, are pronounced YAHW because they are equivalent to the English vowels IAU. They are the same letters that begin Yahweh's Name. The last two Hebrew letters are pronounced SHUA, as found in Strong's Concordance Hebrew Dictionary, No. 8668.
Clearly, the name of the Savior was changed from Yahshua (Yehowshu'a), through contraction, to Joshua (then Jeshua). Evidence that the Y in His name took on the J is found in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, where translators of the King James Version inserted “Jesus” when Joshua, the son of Nun, was meant.
When transferred into Greek, by taking the termination characteristics of the language, it assumed the form Jesus as it came through the Latin. Unlike English, which uses corresponding suffixes in personal pronouns, most languages have special endings on nouns that show the case, number, and gender. The “us” ending indicates masculine nominative. Thus the metamorphosis from “Yahshua (Yehowshu'a)” to “Jesus” was complete.
As with the Father's Name, numerous sources easily available attest that the Name Yahshua (Yehowshu'a) is incorrectly rendered “Jesus.”
- “Jesus Christ -- ...Although Matthew (1:21) interprets the name originally Joshua, that is, 'Yahweh is salvation,' and finds it specially appropriate for Jesus of Nazareth, it was a common one at a time.” (Vol. 16, p. 41)
Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed.):
- “Jesus Christ -- ...The same is true of the name Jesus. In the Septuagint it is the customary Greek form for the common Hebrew name Joshua; i.e., 'Yahweh helps.' “ Vol. 10. p. 149."
Following is an extract from the Oxford English Dictionary under “Jesus”:
- Jesus [a.L. Iesu-s,a. Gr. (I-ee-sous), ad. late Heb. or Aram. yeshua, Jeshua, for the earlier y'hoshua, Jehoshua or Joshua (explained as 'Jah (or Jahveh) is salvation': cf. y'shuah 'salvation, deliverance', and matt.i.21), a frequent Jewish personal name, which, as that of the Founder of Christianity, has passed through Gr. and L. into all the languages of scripture.
Had the Savior's Name been transliterated into Greek and Latin, the true and proper form would have been preserved.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature:
- “Jesus Christ -- There can be no doubt that Jesus is the Greek form of a Hebrew name. Its original and full form is Jehoshua. By contraction it became Joshua or Jeshua; and when transferred into Greek, by taking the termination characteristics of that language, it assumed the form Jesus.”
Word Studies in the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent:
- Jesus. The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been borned by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history -- Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high-priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews in their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally named Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Yahweh (our) Salvation) (Num. 13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Savior (Luke 1:47; 2:11; John 4:42).
The Acts of the Apostles by Jackson and Lake:
- Jesus -- This is the regular Greek translation of the Hebrew Joshua. The latter assumed a shorter form Jeshua in later times, which explains also the e in the Greek spelling. Among the Biblical instances Joshua the son of Nun, and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak, high priest in the time of Zerubbabel, are well known. The Greek spelling occurs in the LXX (with some exception) for the Hebrew name. It is included in the title of Ecclesiasticus. It is used in the New Testament at Luke 3:29, Acts 7:45, and Hebrews 4:8 of ancient Hebrews, and of Jews of the early Roman Empire at Col. 4:11, by Josephus frequently (see Niese, Index, s.v.) and many other Jewish sources.
Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible:
- (under Hebrews 4:8) “Jesus. Josue, who in Greek is called Jesus.”
Smith's Bible Dictionary:
- “Jesus Christ -- The name Jesus means Savior, and was a common name, derived from the ancient Hebrew Jehoshua.”
A Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings:
- “Jesus -- the Greek form for the name Joshua or Jeshua. Jeshua -- Yahweh is salvation or Yahweh is opulence.
Alford's Greek Testament, An Exegetical and Critical Commentary:
- “Jesus -- The same name as Joshua, the former deliverer of Israel.”
Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion:
- “Jesus (The Name) -- Matthew's Gospel explains it as symbolic of His mission, 'For He will save His people from their sins.' This agrees with its popular meaning as 'Yahweh saves...' “ p. 1886.
- “The Sacred Name -- The word Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek (Iesous) which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua, or Joshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning 'Jehovah is salvation.' “ Vol. 8, p. 374.
- (Note on Matt. 1:21) “Jesus: for He shall save: The play on words (Yeshua, Jesus; yoshia, shall save) is possible in Hebrew but not in Aramaic. The name Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation.”
- (Note on Matt. 1:21) “His name Jesus: The name Jesus is the same as Saviour. It is derived from the verb signifying to save. In Hebrew it is the same as Joshua. In two places [Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8] in the New Testament it is used where it means Joshua, the leader of the Jews into Canaan, and in our translation the name Joshua should have been retained.”
Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 1:21:
- “Jesus is the same name with Joshua, the termination only being changed, for the sake of conforming it to the Greek.”
New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 2, p. 330:
- OT Iesous is the Greek form of the OT Jewish name Yesua, arrived at by transcribing the Heb. and adding an -s to the nom. to facilitate declension. Yesua (Joshua) seems to have come into general use about the time of the Babylonian exile in place of the older Yehosua.
The LXX rendered both the ancient and more recent forms of the name uniformly as Iesous. Joshua the son of Nun, who according to the tradition was Moses' successor and completed his work in the occupation of the promised land by the tribes of Israel, appears under this name... It is the oldest name containing the divine name Yahweh, and means “Yahweh is help” or “Yahweh is salvation” (cf. the verb yasa, help, save). Joshua also appears in one post-exilic passage in the Heb. OT (Neh. 8:17) as Yeshua the son of Nun, and not as in the older texts, Yehosua.
Jewish superstitious reverence for the name still is evident in their aversion to including the short form of the sacred Name in YAHshua. Even today the Jews change the vowel form to spell YEHshua. That is how the “e” crops up in the Savior's name.
We are to call on the name our Savior was given in Scripture. History and secular scholarship give abundant proof that His name has been changed by man. It is not Jesus.
Hubert M. Skinner, on pp. 122-123 of his book, Story of the Letters and Figures, sums up the damage done to the Saviors name:
- In some way, various modern peoples who received the J from the Rhomaios have lost the original sound, and have substituted something very different. We retain the former sound in our “hallelujah,” but we generally give the letter the disagreeable soft sound of G.
Yod is the initial of the name Jesus. It is unfortunate that a name so dear and so sacred is pronounced in a manner so different from that of the original word. The latter sounded very much as if it were Ya' shoo-ah, and was agreeable to the ear. Our sounds of J and hard S are the most disagreeable in our language, and they are both found in our pronunciation of this short name, although they did not exist in the original.
These sources that confirm the names Yahweh and Yahshua (Yehowshu'a) represent only a fraction of the numerous references available on the subject. You probably have some in your own home. Simply look up “God,” “Jehovah,” “Yahweh,” “Jesus,” or “Tetragrammaton” in any good dictionary or encyclopedia.
Names Remain Unchanged
Names do not change as they are brought over from one language to another. Your name would remain the same no matter which country you travel to. Newspapers would not change you name, but bring the same pronunciation across into their language. Another language may have a name analogous to yours (such as Pedro in Spanish for Peter), but the fact remains that your given name is Peter, not Pedro.
We can tell from an individual's name whether he is from Germanic, Spanish, Irish, Scandinavian, or Oriental stock because of the permanence of his name. Others may change you name, but you wouldn't.
The word “halleluYah” is the same in every language, as attested by Bible translators. It means “praise you Yah” and is a command directly from Yahweh's Word. We are told to praise Yahweh, and should not evade that command by praising titles substituted in various languages for His true Name Yahweh.
What Difference Does it Make?
The purpose of a name is to identify a specific individual. Changing the name changes the person referred to. Some will argue, “I know the sacred Name, but does it really make that much difference? The Heavenly Father knows who I mean when I use God or Lord.”
Yet, we know that the word “God” is used for the mighty ones of many religions, most of them pagan. And Hosea 2:16 and 17 says that the day is coming when Yahweh will take the name of the Lord (Baal) out of people's mouths. Baal means “my Lord” (see Companion Bible note on Hosea 2:16). Yahweh gives a powerful command in Shemot 23:13: “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let be heard out of your mouth.”
If “God” and “Lord” are used of other mighty ones, then how can we use them for the Heavenly Father without violating His commands in Shemot 23:13, Joshua 23:7, Hosea 2:16 and a host of other Scriptures?
Yahweh is very jealous of His Name, as we read time and again throughout the Scriptures. He says in Isaiah 52:5 and 6 that His people will know His Name. And in Psalm 79:5-6 the psalmist asks, “How long, Yahweh? Will you be angry forever? Shall Your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out Your wrath upon the heathen that have not known You, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon Your Name.”
As mentioned in the beginning, one important characteristic of the favored Philadelphia Assembly in Revelation 3:7 is that they did not deny His Name (verse 8). Because of that, they have an open door to Yahweh's blessings.
Because abundant proof exists that there was no “j” sound as we have in English in either Hebrew or Greek, why then should we not change all the proper names in the Bible that use the J to the more proper Y? While it is true that there are names like John, which would pronounced Yo-han, Jeremiah is Yeremiah, Jacob is Yacob, Jason is Iason, Judah is Yehudah -- none of these names is holy. More than any other adjective describing Yahweh's Name, Yahweh uses the word holy. We are to handle it with reverence and hallow it and preserve it in the way He revealed it to us.
The same is true with Yahshua (Yehowshu'a)'s Name, the only Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. The other names of men are not holy.
Yahweh's Name is bound up in His shekinah glory. When Moses asked to see Him in His glory, he was told, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Yahweh before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Moses was not allowed to look on the face of Yahweh to see His resplendent glory, however. Notice that when the Almighty descended in the cloud upon the mount (Ex. 34:5), He proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh El, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” verse 6.
His Name is bound up in His glory, as we see when He proclaimed the Ten Commandments to Israel. As soon as the thundering, lightning, trumpet blast, and smoking mount subsided, He began with, “I, Yahweh, am your Elohim...” He makes known His presence by announcing His Name. Sons and daughters know their father's name, and we as children of the Most High Yahweh should know our Father's Name so that we can joyfully and truthfully say, “Hallowed by Thy Name.”
No Other Name for Salvation
Knowing what the true names are is not enough, however. Once they are proved and accepted as correct, they must be used. James 4:17 reads, “so then, to the person who knows what is right to do and fails to do it, to him it is sin,” Modern Language Bible.
The sacred Name is forever, a memorial that Yahweh says He is to be remembered by from generation to generation. “And Yahweh said moreover unto Moses, 'Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, “Yahweh, the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me unto you:” this is My Name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations,' “ Shemot 3:15. (Note ALL generations)
Yahweh has revealed His Name and His Son's through a Hebrew-speaking people down through history. His Name has meaning and describes His attributes. “Yahweh” means that He will be all things to His people.
He will be whatever they need of Him at the time. He will be our comforter, strengthener, guide, protector, healer, provider; in fact, He will be whatever we as His children need. He has already become our salvation through His Son, Yahshua (Yehowshu'a), the salvation Yahweh has sent to earth for you and me.
We have a closer walk with Yahweh when we call upon His personal, holy Name that He has revealed to those with whom He is in covenant.
Our fellowship is with those of like faith who have called upon His sacred Name down through the years, from righteous Abel to Noah, Abraham, and the Israelites of long ago. Eventually the whole family in heaven and earth will be the Name of the Father, Yahweh, Ephesians 3:15. How can you be accounted worthy to bear the Name Yahweh, and be sealed with His Name (Rev. 14:1), if you refuse to use it now?
We must walk in all the truth we are given. When we fully accept the truth revealed to us, it is our responsibility to act. Abundant proof exists that Yahweh and Yahshua (Yehowshu'a) are the correct and only names of the Father and Son, respectively. These are the names revealed in His Word through His inspired prophets. We cannot improve on the direct command to praise Him by the Name He Himself gave to us.
”Salvation comes through no one else, for there is no other Name in the whole world, given to men, to which we must look for our salvation.” Acts 4:12 TCNT.
Last modified: June 28, 1999