His Name from Ancient Times
His Name and How It Has Changed
By Your servant, Dan L Baxley
His Name down through the centuries:
YHWH -- YaHWeH
YHWH -- YaHWeH
The Tetragrammaton, in order of occurrence from, top to bottom: first in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), second in Aramaic (10th Century BC to 0) and third, modern Hebrew script. Do you notice anything unusual? The first two look similar while the Modern Hebrew is completely different. Each of these samples have Middle East origins, in English these four letters are written as, YHWH, different in appearance, to be sure, but English is not of Semitic, or Middle East origin. Modern Hebrew is a modern created language that can be traced back to its origins this side of the Second Temple, 70 AD. Classic Hebrew is another matter and Paleo Hebrew still another.
Biblical Hebrew (Hebrew: עִבְרִית מִקְרָאִית), also called Classical Hebrew (Hebrew: עִבְרִית קְלַסִית), is the archaic form of the Hebrew language, a Canaanite Semitic language spoken in the area known as Canaan, roughly west of the Jordan River and east of the Mediterranean Sea. Biblical Hebrew is attested from about the 10th century BCE, and persisted through the Second Temple period (ending in 70 CE). Biblical Hebrew eventually developed into Mishnaic Hebrew, which was spoken until the 2nd century CE. Biblical Hebrew is best-attested in the Hebrew Bible, a document which reflects various stages of the Hebrew language in its consonantal skeleton, as well as a vocalic system which was added later, in the Middle Ages. There is also some evidence of regional dialectal variation, including differences between Biblical Hebrew as spoken in the northern Kingdom of Israel and in the southern Kingdom of Judah.
Modern Hebrew is one of the two official languages of Israel (the other being Arabic), while Classical Hebrew is used for prayer or study in Jewish communities around the world today. Ancient Hebrew is also the liturgical tongue of the Samaritans, while modern Hebrew or Arabic is their vernacular. As a foreign language, it is studied mostly by Jews and students of Judaism and Israel, and by archaeologists and linguists specializing in the Middle East and its civilizations, as well as by theologians, and in Christian seminaries
The copy of the Qumran Scroll above, uses the Paleo-Hebrew, as you can see, thus carrying the Holy Name forward and proving its presence during the time or our Savior – the Qumran sect was withdrawn into their community during the time our Savior walked in the flesh. You will notice, also, the name was retained in its earlier form while the rest of the copy was written in the language of the day. "The Name" (HaShem) was later replaced by the term, or title, Adonay (adonia) the Hebrew word for the English word “Lord” (LORD). The fact remains, the devote Hebrews of the Qumran Scrolls used His Name and did not substitute for it but used it, wrote it out, and judging from the similarity to the Aramaic they knew the pronunciation also, as would have others. Remember, these scrolls come to us from a period of time circulating around the time our Savior walked this Earth in the flesh. Modern translators, however, have decided to replace His Name with titles, like, “lord”, somehow by capitalizing the letters this magically transforms a lesser word to the status of a name – LORD instead of YHWH.
You have the Paleo Hebrew (Phoenician) followed by the Aramaic overlapping in historical time. The reason for this is the four letters in the Paleo Hebrew were kept in the Text of Scripture, as evident with the scroll in view, even though the lettering of the more modern language, Aramaic, continued to evolve into different shapes the pronunciation was preserved. See how the Paleo and the Aramaic can be seen as nearly identical, in fact, you could say they are identical, preserved and used without substitute. Where you see the big change is in the Modern Hebrew, the third example.
Modern Hebrew is nothing like the original languages. Modern Hebrew is a new language invented with the advent of Israel returning to the land in the last 200 years. You see, the people of Israel had been so dispersed throughout the world they had lost their common language. For a time no one could speak Paleo Hebrew. A project had been in the works to restore or find a common language just for the Jewish people and this became a reality with the exodus of the people of Israel back to the Land. Beast men the likes of Hitler and the European attempted annihilation of the Jewish people, the need to invent a new Hebrew Language common to all Israelites and for the Jews to have a safe haven became a priority of the Hebrew scholars and warriors. Some could argue the point of the Land of Israel as being a "safe haven", surrounded by enemies wishing and still working to annihilate the people of the Living God, YHWH.
(Note: If you would like more information about how Modern Hebrew came about and the man given credit for this project go to this link -- Eliezer Ben-Yehuda --
In November of 1920 he succeeded in prevailing on Herbert Samuel, British High Commissioner of Palestine, to make Hebrew one of the three official languages of the Palestine Mandate.
It is difficult to exaggerate the contribution and achievement of Ben Yehuda. His lexicographical achievement itself- to innovate a modern language on the remains of an ancient and fossilized one, was monumental in itself, but it was only an instrument in a successful one man campaign, to make Hebrew the spoken language of the Jewish people. Thanks to his almost single-handed initiative, this was accomplished in the space of less than 40 years.)
This new language had been in the works for some time and the mini exodus of Jews back to the land of Palestine kick started this effort into high gear. Later, as archaeologist began to pour over the country, the land of Israel, many discoveries of the ancient language were uncovered and today it is understood better than ever, and as you can see, the Holy Name of our God was never lost, passing down from the Paleo records right down to the modern Hebrew of today.
The Name (HaShem) in modern lettering is YHWH, this is today's English a four letter representation of the original Paleo/Aramaic called the Tetragrammaton, or Four Letters and they are pronounceable. These four letters are the written presentation of our Creator’s Chosen Name. With the knowledge gained in these last days we can be confident of how to pronounce this most Holy of Names. YaHWeH is His Name, the same name of the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, later to be called Israel (Exodus 3:15). Later this same YHWH was to come to us as YaH-shua (John 1).
Yeshua, or YaHshua?
I have already touched on this in a previous article but it should be made clear, the name YaHshua, as printed, is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures, and neither is Yeshua. But wait, the readers of Hebrew say, it is found, Yeshua, that is. Not so, not in the original writings as one might think. You see, the name, Jeshua, Yeshua, is a mis-transliteration (To represent (letters or words) in the corresponding characters of another alphabet) , and in the Jewish literature means, to the Jew, avoiding pronouncing the Name of the LORD, the Adonay, or YHWH. It pleases the devote Jew not to repeat His Name and by doing so doing they inadvertently treat the Name of their God, the God of the Scriptures, with the greatest disrespect, in their eye, their righteousness, they do not see the error of keeping The Name (HaShem) covered, sealed up, not used. There is a commanded that they, as the chosen of the Living God YHWH are not to call on or mention the names of other gods, the gods of the Gentiles. So, what do they do? They stop calling on "The Name" and use other terms, like HaShem, Adonay, or the Greek influenced, Adonai. The term, yeshua, means, salvation, when used as a name the missing "H" is expected to be replaced, mentally, by the reader. This then would be pronounced as YaHshua, or YHshua, there is no "e" in the Name. This is also true of the transliteration for the old English transliteration of the Name Joshua, YeHoshua, and should be YHoshua or YaHoshua.
(Joshua 23:7) That you come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
In the name, Yeshua, we see a distortion of His true name, YaHshua, and has a different meaning for the Jewish reader. According to the Jewish New Testament Commentary, the name Yeshu is, “…a kind of coded incantation against Christian evangelism. Moreover, since Yeshua came to be regarded in non-Messianic Judaism as a false prophet, blasphemer and idolater wrongly being worshiped as God, and since the Torah says, ‘You shall not even pronounce the names of their gods’, the Messiah’s name was purposely mispronounced.”
Isn’t it odd, the Jewish scholar, the scribes, and Rabbis in keeping the Holy Word, use a name they say is too Holy to say. Isn’t it odd they are commanded not to mention the names of a false god, the gods of the gentiles? And this is exactly how Yeshua is seen -- a god of the Gentiles, of the Gentile Christians, and they use it, say it and tell Gentiles this was and is His Name. It is their “catch 22” and they have a problem in not saying His Name and not mentioning pagan names and of Christian god, Jesus, or Yeshua. How is this done? First, they do not supply the full Name of the God of Israel to the Gentiles, second they change the Name associated with the Messiah of the New Testament just enough to still be a Jewish name but not THE NAME (Ha Shem). The Jew/Hebrews of modern scholarship do not deny YaHshua existed, as some ignorant critics still cling to, no, he is not denied as a man, a famous Rabbi of Jewish origin. What they deny is he was anything more than this, a Rabbi having fallen on hard times, a magician of the arts preforming miracles by magic. They are obliged not to use or say the name Jesus, a god of the Gentiles, and they hesitate to use His Hebrew name so they use what is defined as an Aramaic name, Yeshua. This name, however, is associated with that of a false teacher and liar, so they say, of a Jewish teacher from the first century, whom they admit to executing. They wish to avoid the use of the name, YaHshua, or even YaHushua if at all possible. They are happy to let the Gentiles use Yeshua even supporting this with their own modern translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, translating a name pronounced as YaH-shoo-ah but written as Yeshua. Again, if the term, as found in the Hebrew Dictionary H3442, is used as a name, the reader is to mentally supply the missing "H" (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, published by the Jewish Publication Society, Pg V of the Preface), and if this term is not used as a name it remains without the "H", which supplies the Name of our Creator, then it is to mean "salvation". With the "H" restored it then is interpreted, YaH is Salvation, or YaHshua.
Now you know why the name Yeshua is said to be a "short form" by the Jews and even the Messianic Jews, as they know this is not a complete name. And anyone can see, this is a pretty long "short form", if you ask me. They admit, by this, that this is only part of His Name and when a Jewish person wants or needs to communicate this name it is, in most cases, pronounced, Yeshu (Yes ua) and is actually an insult, as the Jewish New Testament Commentary states, “…Yeshu is also an acronym consisting of the first letters of the Hebrew insult, “Yumach sh’mo v’zikhro” (“May his name and memory be blotted out…)”, thus we see the insult when the Hebrew says, Yeshu and we see the incomplete Name when the Christian with partial knowledge says, Yeshua, and why the Hebrew Scriptures show this name as Yeshua, not YaHshua. By restoring the missing letter to this Name we have YeHshua, or YaHshua. An earlier volume of Strong's Hebrew Dictionary supplies the pronunciation as YaH-shoo-ah. Also, this is the pronunciation supplied by the Strong's numbering system found in the popular bible software, e-sword -- H3442 - yeshua -- yah-shoo-ua or yah-shoo-ah.
When The Name or HaShem, YHWH is used by many, even the Messianic Jews, it is replaced with the title Adonay, or Adonai, which means or is the same as the English use of the title, LORD, in all caps. The Jewish Publication Society in the production of the modern Hebrew Bible into English readily admit to following the traditions of the King James translators in the use of names -- how convenient.
You have noticed I have used the term, HaShem, and this was to make another point. Many Jewish translations in the Messianic Jewish movement use this word, HaShem, in place of the Sacred Name, YHWH. HaShem is not a name, it is a statement and merely another method at avoiding the use of what they think the Heavenly Father's Name is. HaShem is the Hebrew for saying "The Name", it is not a name, or His Name, as some have suggested and appears in some modern Jewish translations. For those using this term they would read The Name, everytime they would come to the Holy Name, and by this method would avoid saying His Holy Name. You just have to shake your head. I pray this article will be of encouragement and will inspire you to study the word for yourself.