YESHUA or JESUS
|There is evidence that YESHUA is a "modern" Hebrew
version of the name "Jesus", whereas the Hebrew of Jesus' time (Aramaic
Hebrew), would have His name more as "Yeshu" or "Isa". The common
language of Jesus' time was Greek, which gives us His name as "Iasous".
The important thing is that Jesus is the common English name we
"Westerners" use to
refer to our God and Saviour, and is perfectly acceptable, and
preferable to Yeshua ... in my opinion.
Yeshua is a Hebrew name which has been
transliterated into Greek as Iesous (IhsouV: pronounced "ee-ay-SUS"). The
English "Jesus" comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name into the
Latin Iesus. Now Greek has no "y" sound, but the Latin "i" is both an "i" and a
"j" (i.e., it can have a consonantal force in front of other vowels), the latter
of which is properly pronounced like the English "y" (which explains the German
Jesu, "YAY-su")That is why we spell Jesus as we do, taking it straight from
Latin, but we pronounce the name with a soft "j" sound because that is what we
do in English with the consonantal "j".
The first letter in the name Yeshua ("Jesus") is the yod. Yod represents the "Y" sound in Hebrew. Many names in the Bible that begin with yod are mispronounced by English speakers because the yod in these names was transliterated in English Bibles with the letter "J" rather than "Y". This came about because in early English the letter "J" was pronounced the way we pronounce "Y" today. All proper names in the Old Testament were transliterated into English according to their Hebrew pronunciation via the Latin, but when English pronunciation shifted to what we know today, these transliterations were not altered. Thus, such Hebrew place names as ye-ru-sha-LA-yim, ye-ri-HO, and yar-DEN have become known to us as Jerusalem, Jericho, and Jordan; and Hebrew personal names such as yo-NA, yi-SHAI, and ye-SHU-a have become known to us as Jonah, Jesse, and Jesus. To further complicate matters, there was no letter "J" in the old English alphabet and the letter "I" was often used in its place. Often in early texts of the time, Jesus or Jerusalem would be spelled Iesus or Ierusalem.
The second sound in Yeshua's name is called tse-RE, and is pronounced almost like the letter "e" in the word "net". Just as the "Y" sound of the first letter is mispronounced in today's English, so too the first vowel sound in "Jesus". Before the Hebrew name "Yeshua" was transliterated into English, it was first transliterated into Greek. There was no difficulty in transliterating the tse-RE sound since the ancient Greek language had an equivalent letter which represented this sound. And there was no real difficulty in transcribing this same first vowel into English. The translators of the earliest versions of the English Bible transliterated the tse-RE in Yeshua with an "e". Unfortunately, later English speakers guessed wrongly that this "e" should be pronounced as in "me," and thus the first syllable of the English version of Yeshua came to be pronounced "Jee" instead of "Yeh". It is this pronunciation which produced such euphemistic profanities as "Gee" and "Geez".
Since Yeshua is spelled "Jeshua" and not "Jesus" in most English versions of the Old Testament (for example in Ezra 2:2 and 2 Chronicles 31:15), one easily gets the impression that the name is never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet 'Yeshua' appears there twenty-nine times, and is the name of at least five different persons and one village in the southern part of Yehudah ("Judah").
In contrast to the early biblical period, there were relatively few different names in use among the Jewish population of the Land of Israel at the time of the Second Temple. The name Yeshua was one of the most common male names in that period, tied with Eleazer for fifth place behind Simon, Joseph, Judah, and John. Nearly one out of ten persons known from the period was named Yeshua.
The first sound of the second syllable of Yeshua is the "sh" sound. It is represented by the Hebrew letter shin. However Greek, like many other languages, has no "sh" sound. Instead, the closest approximation, the Greek sigma, was used when transcribing "Yeshua" as "Iesus". Translators of English versions of the New Testament transliterated the Greek transcription of a Hebrew name, instead of returning to the original Hebrew. This was doubly unfortunate, first because the "sh" sound exists in English, and second because in English the "s" sound can shift to the "z" sound, which is what happened in the case of the pronunciation of "Jesus".
The fourth sound one hears in the name Yeshua is the "u" sound, as in the word "true". Like the first three sounds, this also has come to be mispronounced but in this case it is not the fault of the translators. They transcribed this sound accurately, but English is not a phonetic language and "u" can be pronounced in more than one way. At some point the "u" in "Jesus" came to be pronounced as in "cut," and so we say "Jee-zuhs."
The "a" sound, as in the word "father," is the fifth sound in Jesus' name. It is followed by a guttural produced by contracting the lower throat muscles and retracting the tongue root- an unfamiliar task for English speakers. In an exception to the rule, the vowel sound "a" associated with the last letter "ayin" (the guttural) is pronounced before it, not after. While there is no equivalent in English or any other Indo-European language, it is somewhat similar to the last sound in the name of the composer, "Bach." In this position it is almost inaudible to the western ear. Some Israelis pronounce this last sound and some don't, depending on what part of the dispersion their families returned from. The Hebrew Language Academy, guardian of the purity of the language, has ruled that it should be sounded, and Israeli radio and television announcers are required to pronounce it correctly. There was no letter to represent them, and so these fifth and sixth sounds were dropped from the Greek transcription of "Yeshua," -the transcription from which the English "Jesus" is derived.
So where did the final "s" of "Jesus" come from? Masculine names in Greek ordinarily end with a consonant, usually with an "s" sound, and less frequently with an "n" or "r" sound. In the case of "Iesus," the Greeks added a sigma, the "s" sound, to close the word. The same is true for the names Nicodemus, Judas, Lazarus, and others.
English speakers make one final change from the original pronunciation of Jesus' name. English places the accent on "Je," rather than on "sus." For this reason, the "u" has been shortened in its English pronunciation to "uh."
Today's tradition of pronouncing His
completely hellenized name as "Jesus" has indeed obscured His true name, "Yeshua,"
and has shifted its perceived meaning much like most of His original teachings.
As with all things Essene however, there is always the exoteric and the esoteric philosophies and functions. That is, those ideas and teachings suitable to be imparted to the public, and those designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone.
Even His name, it would seem, became a part of this understanding. The name Jesus or Jesus Christ is often used in everything from idle conversation, to bumper stickers and jewelry, to enforcing false teachings, to justifying wars and political agendas, and is even used as a profanity. The name Yeshua however, has remained pure and holy, known and used only by those who would uphold His name and teachings in the highest regard and thus reserving His holy name for use only in spiritual matters and the most humbled and sincere of prayer and obeisances.
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