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The Name of G-d and Messiah

Names are important, there is no doubt about that. You have a name, I have a name and we are easily offended when our names are misused or even mispronounced. Some of the cruelest taunts children (and sometimes adults) tease each other with are the distortion of names or cruel nicknames. In biblical times names had even greater importance. A’dam named the animals, an important responsibility given to him by God Himself. Men’s and women’s names were often invested with meaning. God himself gave Avraham and Israel their names Himself because he was revealing some new part of His plan for His people. The prophets or their children were given names describing God’s work of judgement. Parents gave names to their children based on some significant event of their birth (Yaackov), a personal characteristic (Esav) or a prayer or hope (Noach). Many times names were plays on words and their character was to be the embodiment of some idea or action (Dan).

God’s name is obviously the most important of all, and invested with the greatest meaning. When God revealed Himself to individuals or nations, He used various names that described particular attributes of his character or nature. To the patriarchs He was El Shaddai, the all powerful one and Adonai, the Lord or master. But the name by which He chose to reveal Himself to His chosen people Israel was hwhy, YHWH, the Tetragrammaton. This is the Name by which He made Himself know to Moshe, the name by which he constantly describes Himself. Names such as YHWH-Yireh, the Lord who provides and YHWH-shalom, the Lord of peace. This name describes God’s very essence, He is the self-existent One, He is separate and above all creation, He is on a level completely different from all else. This is the name by which his people will know Him (Isa 52:6), the Name by which salvation comes (Joel 2:32), and the name in which we trust (Isa50:10). Why is the Name so powerful? Because the name of God embodies His very essence. His character, His power, His attributes are all expressed in His name, His personal, unique Name. Because of this power and the intimate attachment God’s name has to His character, it is very important to use and pronounce it correctly. It’s misuse is very offensive to it’s Owner (Ex 20:7).

For years, those of us in the English speaking world pronounced this name, the ineffable name, ‘Jehovah’. Obviously this is incorrect first and foremost because there is no letter in Hebrew, or Greek for that matter, corresponding to our letter ‘J’. Originally the Hebrew text was written without vowels and the pronunciation of the name was passed down through the priesthood for it was used at the very least on the Day of Atonement. By the time of the Masorites who standardized the Hebrew text of the Torah, the name, because it was so sacred and powerful, was not pronounced by most people at all and when the scribes added the vowel points to the text, instead of the proper points to enable the reader to pronounce it properly, they substituted the vowel points for Adonai (ynda) which is the title Lord, spoken when the Tetragrammaton is encountered in the Scriptures. Thus we ended up with YeHoVaH or Jehovah.

Modern biblical scholarship and linguistical analysis has done much to correct this error. The Samaritans still pronounce the name similar to the ancient way, in the language of the Samaritans it is Iabe. And the masorites in addition to changing the name also changed individual’s named who incorporated the Divine Name such as Yehosaphat and Yehoiakim. The did not, however change names that ended with the name such as Yeshayahu (Isaiah-Yah has saved) and Eliyahu (Elijah-God of YHWH) and even words like Halleluyah (Praise Yah). For these the original pronunciation and their corresponding vowel points remained. With this (and other) historical and linguistic evidence, most biblical scholars have indicated that Yahweh, Yahveh or Yahueh are much closer to the original pronunciation.

The Messiah, being of the same power and nature as God Himself has a name with the same power and importance. In His name we are to preach repentance and forgiveness of sin (Lk 24:47), in His name we have life (Jn 20:31), in His name we pray (Jn 14:13), healing is accomplished in His name (Acts 3:6) and through His name we praise God the Father (Eph 5:20). His name, because it encompasses His essence, is very important and it should be utilized with the utmost care, reverence and respect. As stated above, because there is no ‘J’ in either Greek or Hebrew, ‘Jesus’ is not the name of the Messiah. Iesuos, in the Greek, was transliterated and corrupted when brought into English and the Messiah’s name was given a unique construction. In the Septuagint and even in the New Covenant Iesous is translated as Joshua (which is more correct) except when it refers to the Messiah when it is translated ‘Jesus’. Thus the English translation is not even consistent.

So what is the Messiah’s name? His name means ‘Yahueh saves’ which, obviously is very descriptive of what He does and as such, is very important. His name is composed of two words in Hebrew, YHWH, the name of God, and h[wvy, y’shu`ah, salvation or deliverance. Putting these two together, we end up with Yahushua or Yahoshuah. Some contract this to Y’shua or Yeshua which means ‘he will save’. As I have learned, many things we may not know for sure but there are things, when all the evidence is considered, are more correct than others. We saw this with ‘Jehovah’ and ‘Yahueh’ or ‘Yahweh’. The same with the name of the Messiah. ‘Jesus’ is an invention that is at best, inaccurate, and at worst, an offense to God depending on the truth of it’s origin. ‘Yeshua’ is more accurate because it is descriptive of the Messiah’s work and nature with the meaning ‘he saves’, in this case the ‘he’ referring to God. To be the most accurate and precise, we substitute the actual name of God for the ‘he’ and we end up with Yahushua, Yahueh saves and delivers, which truly is the essence and purpose of God’s plan for sending the Messiah in the first place. And when we use this name properly all the power of the Messiah it describes will be marshaled behind it and his people will accomplish great things for him and in His Name!

Rav Mikha’el