How Did Yeshua Became Jesus: Understanding The Name Change Phenomenon

Anyone who has worked with translation or who speaks more than one language can attest to the difficulty that names provide. Names are typically transliterated instead of translated because the former preserves the original pronunciation while the latter replaces the original letters with ones from the target language that convey the same meaning. Translations like “Moshe” to “Moses” and “Ya’akov” to “Jacob” are examples of transliteration.

Millions of Christians worldwide have been warned against using the name “Jesus” in vain, yet that name was not the one originally intended. However controversial the allegation may seem, it is mostly a matter of translation. So, how did Yeshua become Jesus?

Where Does The Hebrew Name “Yeshua” Come From?

Yeshua (pronounced ye-SHOO-ah) was a common name for Jewish boys in first-century Judea and Galilee. It was tied for fifth place in popularity with El’azar (Lazarus). Shim’on (Simon), Yosef (Joseph), Yochanan (John), and Yehudah (Judah or Judas) were the most common names for boys during the period.

Even though Hebrew was still Lishon HaKadosh (the Holy Language) and used in worship and daily prayer in the Holy Land when the Messiah [1] came, Aramaic had overtaken it as the language of common speech. The two tongues were connected, like Italian and Spanish are to one another. The name Joshua, which in Hebrew is Yehoshua, was translated into Aramaic as Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”

What Is The Prophetic Meaning Of Yeshua?

In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel suggests that Mary (or Miriam) give birth to a boy and call him Yeshua, which means “salvation.” The angel further instructs Joseph, “You shall call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21–22). It was his destiny and calling, like so many other Hebrew names.

Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, gave birth to John a while later. Zechariah, John’s father, predicted that his son would “give to his people the knowledge of salvation (Yeshua) by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:77).

It was fulfilled 30 years later when John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God, who took away the world’s sins. Although Zechariah may not have fully grasped it, he foretold the name of the One who would bring about forgiveness.

illustration of jesus sitting under a tree talking to disciples

What Is Yeshua’s Role As A Jewish Religious Figure?

Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the Temple soon after his birth. To fulfill God’s promise to him, Simeon had been watching for the Messiah to come into the world. In response to seeing Jesus, Simeon said, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples. You bring revelation to the Gentiles and glory to the people of Israel” (Luke 2:30–32).

Amazingly, he said those famous words while holding the newborn Yeshua in his arms: “My eyes have seen Yeshua.” Perhaps that’s why his parents were so taken aback by what people said about him in the next verse: “His father and mother were amazed at the things that were being said about him” (Luke 2:33).

Through Yeshua, the Jewish people’s Messiah, salvation was first brought to the rest of the world. Many, like Simeon, are desperate to discover the meaning of every name, which is true even in modern-day Israel.

If Jesus Christ is the Messiah, why do we pronounce Yeshua Hamashiach? Many kids hear that Jesus’ surname is “Christ” and think it’s funny. But let’s be truthful here; perhaps you thought that, too. That’s because it’s a Greek word whose English translation leaves something to be desired. We must take the whole thing into account. For the Greeks, Christos is equivalent to the Hebrew term Messiah, which means “anointed.”

How Did Yeshua Become Jesus?

Although Yeshua is referenced throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, it is easy to acquire the idea that the name is never uttered because it is written as “Jeshua” and not “Jesus” in most English Old Testament editions, e.g., Ezra 2:2 and 2 Chronicles 31:15. Contrary to popular belief, the name “Yeshua” is not only mentioned 29 times in the Bible, but it also refers to at least 5 distinct people and 1 separate location in the southern region of Yehudah (“Judah”).

People have traditionally taken on new names to make them more easily pronounceable in languages that do not share the same sounds. The proper names of the people and places mentioned in the Old Testament were originally transliterated into English using the Hebrew pronunciation of those names.

This method of transliteration is responsible for the gradual transformation of “Yeshua” into the English name “Jesus.” The original Greek version of the New Testament lacked the “sh” sound in “Yeshua” since it was originally written in the Greek script, which is completely different from the Hebrew alphabet.

A final “s” was added to the end of the name, making it masculine in Greek, and the “s” sound was substituted for the “sh” sound in Yeshua by the New Testament authors. The name was later represented as “Iesus” by the Scripture translators when translated from Greek to Latin.

Some Christians think the name “Jesus” refers to the Greek god Zeus. Jesus and Zeus are completely unrelated names. However, this made-up hypothesis continues to circulate on the web.

John 19:20 states that the Romans hung a sign reading “The King of the Jews” on Jesus’ cross and that “it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.” For centuries, Western Christianity has included an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews” (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) on crucifixes. The Latin form of “Yeshua” became the standard name for Jesus across Europe since it was the language most often used in the Catholic Church. The “Iesus” spelling was used all the way back in the 1611 King James Bible.

Swiss German “J” is pronounced more like “Y” or “Ie” (as in “Iesus”) in English. English Protestant intellectuals fled in droves after the Catholic Queen named “Bloody” Mary I ascended to the English crown in 1553, with many seeking shelter in Geneva. Many of the best English-speaking minds of the time got together to construct the Geneva Bible, where the Swiss spelling of “Jesus” first appeared.

The Geneva Bible was a widely read translation, and both Shakespeare and Milton referred to it in their works. By the time the Mayflower arrived in the New World, it had been imported. Jesus’ English spelling, made popular by the Geneva Bible, was adopted by most English translations by 1769. Thus, the name Jesus Christ currently used among English speakers is an English modification of a German transliteration of a Latin transliteration of a Greek transliteration of an original Hebrew name.

black and white image of jesus looking off into the distance


There is no preferred language (or preferred translation) in the Bible. The Hebrew language is not required to invoke the Lord’s name. How we proclaim his name is also irrelevant. Acts 2:21, as seen in the New Testament, proclaims, “Everyone who calls upon the Lord by name shall be saved.” This verse highlights the inclusive nature of God’s salvation plan.

The message remains unaltered in various languages such as English, Portuguese, Spanish, or Hebrew: God hears and understands every prayer uttered in his name. Language is not a barrier for the Almighty, as his divine power transcends human limitations. He comprehends the sincere cries of his people, regardless of the words spoken or the tongue used.

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