JESUS VS. YESHUA? from One For Israel
“And you shall call his name…” announced the angel Gabriel, “Jesus”.
No he didn’t. He said “Yeshua”. But then again, Gabriel wasn’t really called Gabriel either – in Hebrew it sounds different: “Gav-ree-el”. Mighty one of the Lord. But at least Gabriel sounds a BIT like Gav-ree-el. It’s at least recognisable! How in the world did Yeshua, the actual Hebrew name for our Lord and Messiah, turn into Jesus? It sounds nothing like Yeshua! And does it really matter what we call him?
HOW DID WE END UP CALLING HIM JESUS?
The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek way of expressing his name: Ἰησοῦς, which is pronounced “Yay-soos”. While we have an English version of the Hebrew name for Gabriel, we seem to have ended up with an English version of the Greek version of the Hebrew name for our Messiah, that doesn’t even sound close anymore. It makes him all the less recognisable to his Jewish brethren. Jesus just sounds so… gentile! But when Jewish people hear his name in Hebrew, quite often the lights go on. Ah! Yeshua! The name Yeshua was known and used in Jewish history – you can find men called Yeshua in the roll calls of teams serving in the temple (1 Chronicles 24:11, 2 Chronicles 31:15, Ezra 2:2,6,36). It’s a version of Joshua, and it means “salvation”. This makes much more sense to Jewish ears.
HOW JESUS IS KNOWN AND WHAT HE IS CALLED IN ISRAEL
Sadly, for many long years among Hebrew-speaking Jewish people, Yeshua has been known as “Yeshu”, which is an acronym for a curse: “yimakh shemo ve zikhro” which means, “May his name and memory be obliterated”. So much suffering and persecution has been inflicted upon Jewish people in the name of Yeshua that his very name has become a stumbling block and offense, and now he is often considered one of the enemies of the Jewish people. This word “Yeshu” is made of three Hebrew letters – Y-Sh-U (ישו), but it is missing the last letter of his name – the “Ah” sound. This last letter is called an “Ayin” (ע), which, rather interestingly, means “eye”. It’s almost as if without the “ayin” they cannot see, but when the “ayin” is added, sight comes to the blind.