By Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser, Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg and Dr. Yeshaya Gruber

Despite the assertion of some that Jesus’ Hebrew name should be spelled “Yahshua,” there is absolutely no evidence for this name in any known ancient Hebrew or Aramaic sources. In the Judeo-Greek language of the New Testament, “Jesus” is written as Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous). Translated back into Hebrew/Aramaic, the name is Yeshua (ישׁוּע) or Yehoshua (יהושׁוע).

The name Yeshua (ישׁוּע) was common in the Second Temple Period and appears almost thirty times in the Hebrew Bible as well (e.g., Ezra 3:2; Neh 3:19; 1 Chron 24:11). “Yeshua” (Jesus) is a shortened version of “Yehoshua” (Joshua). If Yehoshua (יהושׁוע) means “the Lord saves”, then Yeshua (ישׁוּע) means either “he [i.e., the Lord] saves” or simply “salvation.” In fact, Judeo-Greek does not distinguish between “Yeshua” and “Yehoshua,” transliterating both as Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous or “Jesus”).

The origins of Jesus’ name in Hebrew probably include both the verbs meaning “to be” (היה) and “to save” (ישע). Matthew’s Gospel states the reason for calling the Messiah “Jesus,” in that direct linguistic connection exists between his name and the salvation of God’s people: “You shall call his name ‘Jesus,’ for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). Insofar as Jesus’ name comes from the Hebrew word for “salvation,” Matthew’s argument makes perfect sense: Miriam’s son must be called “salvation” precisely because “he/the Lord will save” his people from their sins.

The problem with “Yahshua” is not that the original name of Jesus cannot come from both roots (in fact, this may well be the case, since “Jesus” is so closely related to “Yehoshua”). The main issue is this: while the name “Yeshua” is widely attested in Jewish sources, the spelling/pronunciation of “Yahshua” is not attested at all. In the end, we must agree that even though it may sounds appropriate for “Yah to save” from a theological perspective–and thus to speculate that Jesus’ name might have been “Yahshua”– until some evidence is found to the contrary, the name “Yahshua” exists in the hypothetical realm alone; that is, “Yahshua” is only a real name in the minds of those who argue for it.

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166 COMMENTS

    • Hi, Joe. I'm not sure of the answer you're angling for here... but in short, there are no "African origins of Judaism"; rather, the origins of Judaism are Judean (i.e., "Judaism" as the religious phenomenon we know today originates in Yehud, the southern half of Israel, in the Second Temple period). There is a prominent modern Ethiopian community that rightly traces its roots back to Judeans, and therefore identify as Jews, called the Beta Israel -- many of whom have emigrated to the State of Israel.

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    • Read The Moses Mystery: The Egyptian Origins of the Jewish People, also titled, The Bible Myth: The African Origins of the Jewish People, by Gary Greenberg.
    • Read The Moses Mystery: The Egyptian Origins of the Jewish People, also titled The Bible Myth: The African Origins of the Jewish People, by Gary Greenberg.
  1. In the book of Matthew 1:21 the name that was given by the angel to Mariam
    Was it Yahshua or Jesus...?
    Did Mariam and Joseph speak Hebrew or Greek?
    If they spoke Greek one could understand the name being Jesus, if they didn't then one would have to assume that He was called Yahshua......?
    Would this be considered theory?
    • Thanks for your questions. Actually, in Matthew's Gospel, the angel tells *Joseph* the name in a dream, not Miriam. More, the name that the angel spoke was neither Yahshua or Jesus. Mary and Joseph spoke Aramaic, in which Jesus' name is Yeshua (ישׁוע), not Yahshua.

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    • There are neo-gnostics who hinge the salvation of souls upon correct pronunciation, then they INCORRECTLY pronounce the Name and the Savior's Name. You'll see variants like Yahshua, Yahusha, Yahushua. Almost all of this comes from sincere but woefully ignorant gentiles trying to be Jewish. They learn 2 or 3 things from Strong's Concordance, then think they are masters of Hebrew and head honchos of the Body. May they come to the light, and the rest of you kept safe from their lnowledge falsely so called.

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    • In Matthew 1:21 ..the angel of the Lord appeared to to Joseph in a dream...since Joseph came from the descendant of David which is a Hebrew of course the Angel will speak Hebrew language ..therefore Yahshua is the word he used..the original..Hebrew .when he told Joseph.
  2. So I am wondering how would you pronounce the name of the Israelite that the king james call:joshua? I don't have my Hebrew Scriptures with me!That would be the correct way because this military leader was a type of moshiac,as he will lead both houses back to eretz Yisrael.There is another house of yehuda that is there now,not backed by any messiah,funding comes from the rothchilds and security from the industrial military complex
  3. The Codex Sinaiticus” the oldest Greek manuscripts dates to about the fourth century of our Common Era (A.D.).

    It clearly shows us that the word “Ἰησοῦς” or “Iesous” was never found in the text. What appears for what the translators write as “Jesus” in the English translations are the letters “ιυ”.
    These letters are the “Iota” and “Upsilon” which render the “yu” sound.

    In other places, the letters appear as “ιϲ”. These letters are “Iota” and what looks like a partial “ς” which is the letter “Sigma”.

    Again the name “Ἰησοῦς” is never found in the manuscript.

    The Strongs Concordance translates the name more properly a Joshua.

    H3091 – Yĕhowshuwa` יהושוע.

    The Name as prophesied in the Torah like found in the scroll of both Zechariah and Ezra.
    • You are apparently unaware of the NOMINA SACRA phenomenon in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, including Codex Sinaiticus. This phenomenon was applied to "SACRED NAMES" (i.e., NOMINA SACRA). Instead of spelling such words/names as IHSOU, THEOS, CHRISTOS, or KURIOS fully, the copyists would abbreviate to just two letters, usually the first letter and the last. The last letter would vary according to the case ending of the abbreviated noun. Thus, the name IHSOU would be IU, THEOS would be the two letters THETA and SIGMA, CHRISTOS would be XS, and KURIOS would be KS. Each of these abbreviations would have a line inscribed above them to signify that they were abbreviations. If you look closely at the pages of Codex Sinaiticus, you will see these abbreviations throughout, with the requisite line over the top.
    • Thank you for joining the discussion, Immanuel. You raise a lot of important issues. I'll try to give some brief responses.
      1) Indeed, Codex Sinaiticus is believed to date from the 4th century CE/AD, but earlier mss. and fragments also exist.
      2) Yes, the issue of nomina sacra (abbreviations for "sacred names") affects Christian transmission of an enormous number of texts. You mention Ι̅Ϲ̅ (an abbreviation for the nominative case of Ἰησοῦς Iēsous “Yeshua/Jesus”) and Ι̅Υ̅ (for the genitive case). Some other forms, and some other types of abbreviation, are also used for Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) in various grammatical cases; and the manuscripts also abbreviate a number of additional words.
      3) A key point is that in order for an abbreviation to have been recognizable, the full form must have been known. Frequently a given manuscript has both an abbreviated form and also a full form (in different passages). In general, comparison across passages, texts, and manuscripts can reveal the full form that is being abbreviated.
      4) As far as I am aware, several early manuscripts (and many later ones) spell out Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) fully. According to Traube (Nomina sacra, pp. 113-114), even the Codex Sinaiticus has one case of writing out this name fully; and the Codex Vaticanus – regarded as the oldest extant codex of the whole Greek Bible, just a bit older than the Sinaiticus – has at least 168 such cases of writing Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) in full!
      5) We also have significant attestation of ישוע (Yeshua) in Hebrew/Aramaic for the period under discussion. And multiple traditions in cognate languages also give similar pronunciations.
      6) Strong's is referring to the Hebrew name יהושע (Yehoshua), as found in the Hebrew Bible and usually translated "Joshua." The Hebrew name ישוע (Yeshua) is a short form of that name, as explained in this article. It should be noted that Strong’s is not saying anything at all here about the Greek variants, only about the Hebrew name (which we also identify above as “Joshua”).
      7) I'm not sure what you mean by your last sentence; could you explain?

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  4. I realize that there is a Judeo-Christian group called the Assemblies of Yahweh who call Jesus Yahshua. Even the way Jesus is spelled would tell you it's Yeshua and not Yahshua.
    Since Greek was spoken and written at the time in Israel in Yeshua's day, my question is how pervasive or widespread was it used by the Jews at that time? I know that Israel was part of the Greek Empire before the Romans came along besides the fact that there were also Hellenistic Jews who spoke and wrote Greek.
    We attribute the entire New Testament largely to their efforts.
    Did Yeshua also spoke Greek besides Aramaic? That would also provide an interesting clue as well.
    Thanks for sharing this information.
    • Thanks, James. It's always possible that Jesus knew/spoke some Greek, since we have many Greek inscriptions from Israel in the first century. More, we know that there was a Roman presence in the area, so non-Jews would have certainly used Greek (and likely Latin) among the Jews. However, Jesus' primary spoken language was Aramaic, and he could certainly read (or, better, recite) biblical Hebrew as well. Just to be safe, I wouldn't suppose that Jesus knew more an a handful of Greek words and phrases, since the lingua franca in his homeland was Aramaic, and because the Gospels only attest to him speaking Aramaic (transliterated into Greek; e.g., Mk 5:41; 7:34; Matt 27:46).

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  5. This article was very confusing at first because I had no idea there is a sect that calls Jesus Yahshua and I could only assume Yahshua was another way to spell Yeshua.
    • I thought so too until I came across a study course by Dwight Pryor entitled,"Behold the Man" which is an introduction to the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. But I do get the Assemblies of Yahweh monthly magazine which contains articles by the late Elder Jacob Meyer, the cult leader.

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  6. I am probably misunderstanding the significance of this, but why does it whether followers of Christ say "Jesus" or “Yeshua”, and if it does matter, would it then matter if a follower of Christ used the most appropriate name, but mispronounced it?
    • Isn't this argument in danger of 'straining at a gnat whilst swallowing a camel? Jesus is more concerned with our hearts than our spelling and pronunciation abilities.

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    • Gene and Elaine, thanks for the comments. Certain groups promote the idea that the "real" name of Jesus/Joshua/Yeshua/Yehoshua was "Yahshua" (and that this is very important). Hence, for some people this has become a big issue (for others, not). Based on our understanding of the history and language involved, we've put forward our two shekels for consideration. :) The theological question that may arise in Christianity over how essential it is to (re)discover the original pronunciation of this name is something we don't get into in this article.
    • Raymond Lynch, it's because the New Testament is translated from the Latin and Greek manuscripts. Jesus is the English transliteration from the Latin and the Latin from the Greek.
      Look at the similarities
      Hebrew: Yeshua
      Greek: Iesous
      Latin: Iesus
      English: Jesus
      All these languages except English were used for the public sign on the execution stake or cross that was nailed above Jesus' head when He was crucified.
      See John 19:19-20.

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  7. I do feel that it does make a difference in the last days. It's not hard for any language to pronounce. I have tried for a good while to find the true name of the Messiah. Though it says He will have a name written that no one will know but Him on his thigh. When the imposter comes, I think the true name will make a difference to the true children.
  8. I am currently studying Biblical Hebrew, I (very sadly) had to withdraw from Ulpan. I have very happily taken 3 additional courses: Jewish background of the Old Testament; Jewish background of the New Testament; and Geography of the Bible lands. I cannot afford to take any additional courses now, much as I would wish to do so, if I were granted a scholarship to take additional Judaic studies courses, it would be a little bit of heaven for me!
    I have learned so much through my courses, and of course, I would love to learn more.
    As to comments above, about which languages might have been spoken by Joseph and Miriam, we 'westerners', who are largely monolingual, often forget that much of the world speaks in more than one language! Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek... Joseph and Mary no doubt were fluent in each of these languages!
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