By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Many Christians may not have heard the name ‘Yeshua Hamashiach.’ Certain schools of thought believe that this is the only name for Jesus, and that Jesus’ name itself was derived from the Greek spelling of Zeus.
Others say that Yeshua Hamashiach and Jesus are synonymous, simply taking on different spellings based on the influence of various languages on the Ancient world.
No matter what the case, we’ll dive into the meaning of Yeshua Hamshiach. We’ll talk about where this name shows up in the Bible, and why the Bible uses it. Then we’ll discuss the real name for Jesus, or if Jesus can be called upon many names.
What the Words ‘Yeshua Hamashiach’ Mean
Don’t let the large multi-syllabic words intimidate the English-accustomed eye. Yeshua Hamashiach means “Jesus the Messiah.” Let’s break down the name.
As mentioned in the article linked above, Yeshua is a shortened form of Yehoshua (Joshua). We know that Jesus’ name was derived from a similar root. The Hebraic language of the time during the New Testament didn’t pronounce J’s, rather they had a Y pronunciation. English, derived from Greek, Latin, and a number of other languages, incorporated the J.
Hamashiach means “the Messiah.”
At a bird’s-eye view, it appears that Yeshua Hamashiach and “Jesus the Messiah” are synonymous names.
Why the Controversy About Jesus' Name?
The controversy mostly surrounds the idea that Jesus’ name stems from a Greek word IZEUS or “son of Zeus.”
In other words, many Christians are worried that Jesus’ name not only got Hellenized, but that the name itself has ties to pagan deities such as the Greek god Zeus.
However, many Christians have also asserted that the name of Jesus that we know it today is a transliteration.
This means that because the New Testament was written in Greek, the writers, using the best Greek alphabet tools to replicate the sounds of Yeshua Hamashiach, transliterated Yeshua to Iesous. Which, as we go through the popular languages of history went from Iesous to Iesus to Jesus.
In short, to answer our initial question, if we believe that the name of Jesus is a transliteration of Yeshua, then we can believe that Yeshua Hamashiach and Jesus are, in fact, the same person. Nevertheless, the name Yeshua Hamashiach can have a special meaning to many Christians, and they can remember certain aspects of our Messiah in prayers when they use that name (more on this below).
No matter whether we pronounce the name of our Messiah as Jesus or Yeshua, let’s dive into the reasons why some form of the name “Jesus the Messiah” is in the Bible.
Let’s define the word Messiah. This word essentially means “anointed one” or someone set aside for a specific purpose.
The purpose of this Messiah was to save the world from sin (John 14:6).
Therefore, the name not only fits in the Bible, but it is a massive theme throughout all 66 books therein. The Old Testament sets the stage for the Messiah, and the New Testament reveals Him.
Nevertheless, many Christian denominations choose to solely use the name Yeshua Hamashiach.
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3 Reasons People Use the Name Yeshua Hamashiach
Many denominations and Messianic Jews (Christians who have Jewish heritage or background) will use the name Yeshua Hamashiach in conversation and in prayer. Why do they choose to use this powerful name for God?
First, the name does highlight the fact that Jesus came to earth as a Jew. It preserves his cultural background and reminds us that Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews (Matthew 15:24). The Gospel message reached the Gentiles after Jesus’ ascension.
There’s a historicity in the name of Yeshua Hamashiach; that the name would’ve been the one Jesus’ contemporaries used when addressing him.
Second, and previously mentioned, the name ‘Jesus’ does have some connotations with the Greek god Zeus, if we don’t believe that Jesus is a transliteration.
Even if this is not the case, we do know that Jewish history did have a fraught relationship with Hellenization, especially with that of Antiochus Epiphanes IV and his placement of a Zeus statue in the Jewish temple (Daniel 8). The name Yeshua Hamashiach doesn’t have those same possible Hellenized connotations.
Finally, the name reminds us of salvation. A shortened form of Joshua, whose name means “the Lord saves,” Yeshua Hamashiach reminds those who use the name of our Messiah’s original purpose—to save the lost.
Can We Still Use the Name of Jesus?
Those reading this may worry that they’re using the wrong name in prayers. Does God not hear our prayers if we use “Jesus” instead of “Yeshua Hamashiach?” Should every language change their pronunciation of the Lord’s name to the original Hebrew one? In short, no.
As mentioned in this article, he hears our hearts. A transliteration of a name does not prevent God from hearing our prayers. He transcends our languages, our limitations, and his name is powerful in any language.
We also have to keep in mind that all the names we encounter in our English Bibles are not spelled like they were originally pronounced. This doesn’t make their stories or their histories any less true, even if we have a different transliteration for their names.
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Many Powerful Names for One God
If we want to focus on the historicity of our Messiah’s name and remind ourselves of his Jewish nature, we can use the name of Yeshua Hamashiach. And if we want to use the name of Jesus Christ or Jesus the Messiah, God will hear those very same prayers.
We have the blessing of a God who has many powerful names. We can use any of his titles, “El Roi,” “El Shaddai,” “Yahweh,” “Elohim,” and he will hear every one of those prayers.
In fact, God goes by many names to remind us about facets of his character.
Therefore, when you pray, do not be afraid to use the name “Yeshua Hamashiach” or “Jesus the Messiah.” They are the same name of a God who has come to save us.
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Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her at her website.