We read “Jesus” in our English Bibles, but what is Jesus’ name in Hebrew?
Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Yehoshua (Yeh-HO-shoo-ah), which, over time, became contracted to the shorter Yeshua (Yeh-SHOO-ah). Yehoshua, and therefore Yeshua as well, means “the Lord is salvation.”
In the Greek New Covenant, the word used for Jesus is Iesous (ee-ay-SOOS). Iesous is not a translation of Jesus’ name in Hebrew, but rather it is a transliteration.
A translation takes the meaning of a word in one language and assigns it the equivalent word with the same meaning in a different language. For instance, translated into Spanish, the English word “red” is “roja.”
A transliteration takes the letters of a word from one language and finds like-sounding letters of the second language to create a new word in that language. For example, the English word “baptize” is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo (bap-TID-zo), meaning to immerse.
In the late 4th century, Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, a manuscript known as the Vulgate. In it, the Greek Iesous became the Latin Iesus. The English Bible eventually changed the Y sound of the Latin I to the letter J, which we now have in Jesus.
So, from Yehoshua/Yeshua – Jesus’ name in Hebrew – we get the Greek transliteration Iesous, which was transliterated into Latin as Iesus and later became the English name, Jesus.
Do we need to use Jesus’ name in Hebrew?
God will hear your prayers whether you use the name Yeshua, Jesus or the Messiah’s equivalent name in another language. We at Jewish Voice prefer to call Him Yeshua for two primary reasons:
Using Jesus’ name in Hebrew highlights the fact that He is Jewish. Much of the Church remains disconnected from the Jewish roots of faith in Yeshua. The Old Covenant promised the Messiah would come from and to the Jewish people. Jesus’ ministry on Earth was directed to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24 NIV). The apostle Paul declared that the Gospel was for the Jewish people first and also to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).
The consistent message of the entire Bible is God’s plan of redemption in Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah. God reveals it in miraculous and rich ways throughout both Old and New Covenants. Using Jesus’ name in Hebrew helps in a small way to restore the lost connection that many Believers have with the Jewish roots of their faith.
The term Christ has become offensive to the Jewish people. This Anglicized name of Jesus has been so misused across the centuries as so-called members of the “Church” carried out violent pogroms against Jewish people. Marauding mobs traveled far and wide using the name of Christ while wickedly misrepresenting God’s Messiah as they beat, tortured and murdered Jewish people who would not be baptized or convert to “Christianity.”
For Jewish people, the name Jesus can be associated with the violent persecution and anti-Semitism of the Crusades, expulsions from various countries in Europe and the horrors of the Holocaust during which Jewish people were labeled “Christ Killers.”
Yet, Jewish people need Jesus just as the Gentiles do. The Bible is clear that there is only one way anyone can come to God – through faith in His Sent One, the Messiah (John 14:6). This is another reason why we at Jewish Voice prefer to use Jesus’ name in Hebrew: Yeshua.