James, the Synagogue, and Jesus – part 1

It has been a while since I have written anything of substance.  I have been dealing with a great many difficult things over the past month.  I felt that if I wrote during that time, that I may have had a difficult time hearing that still small voice of the Lord so I abstained from writing.

During this time, a very much loved sister in the Lord challanged me to be salt but not be so salty that the food I served was inedible.  I have been considering this for the entire month.  It is not only good advice – it is biblical advice!

With that in mind, I present the following post . . .

There is no small amount of difficulty in studying the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.  One of the predominant problems is in tradition.  If something is accepted as biblically accurate, then anything that points out even one thing that it is not, is considered either wrong or heretical.  The reasoning goes something like the following:

This is the understanding that has been accepted for 2000+ years.  To vary from it is heresy!”

In principle I agree with this.  However, it is ALSO important to understand that archeological discoveries, while they have proved this to be true more times than not, have ALSO shown that some of the things we have accepted have been misunderstood by us as well.

Fouad 266 (which is the 2nd oldest known manuscript of the Septuagint) is an example of this kind of misunderstanding that comes from accepting a theological supposition based on a lack of evidence.

Short version:

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament).  In it, YHVH is translated as Theos (Greek for god) and Lord is translated as Kurios (Greek for lord).  This initiated a supposition that had been accepted for a very long time by scholars that Yeshua (Jesus) most likely used, read, and/or said the word Theos when referencing YHVH (known as the Tetragrammaton) and Kurios when saying or referencing the Lord.

However, when the Papyrus Fouad 266 from the 1st century was found in Egypt in 1939, we find the Greek text of the Septuagint for Deuteronomy with one small caveat we should be aware of:  Nestled among the Greek text of this book, YHVH was NOT translated as Theos!  The text of Fouad 266 is entirely Greek except for that one word.

In place of Theos, we find YHVH (Tetragrammaton) in Ashuri script (Aramaic square) – In other words there is a single Hebrew word in the middle of all of those Greek words and letters!

We find this same phenomenon later in Qumran as well.

This is significant!  It forces us to change our theological suppositions even if we have held them for a couple of thousand years.

Archeological finds also let us disprove false teachers and/or teaching.  For example, the Book of Abraham by Joseph Smith is a translation of his that is in The Pearl of the Great Price. It is from an Egyptian papyrus that was bought around 1835 and later purchased by the Latter-Day Saints at the urging of Smith.

Short version:

Joseph Smith urges his Latter-Day Saints to buy some artifacts from a Michael Chandler.  Joseph convinces them to spend an enormous amount of money ($2400) because he claims that one of the papyrus is the “lost book of Abraham.” He translates the papyrus and it becomes the Book of Abraham that is listed in The Pearl of Great Price.

Problem is, there is an archeological find that will eventually prove that Joseph Smith was a fraud:  The Rosetta Stone.  This “stone” has 3 scripts on it that eventually let us read and decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics:

  1. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs
  2. Demotic
  3. Ancient Greek

Basically, this stone allows us sometime later to see that the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith translated from that papyrus is really “The Hor Book of Breathings.”  It is part of chapter 125 of The Book of the Dead.

Why do I bring these things up considering the title of this piece?  As I said in the first line:

There is no small amount of difficulty in studying the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.

The reason for this is not very easy to see without some help, some insight, some common sense, and not to put too fine a point on it, some prayer as well.  Interlinears, commentaries, grammars, dictionaries, etc can lead to dead ends sometimes if you don’t know the text or if you are blindly following their translations and explanations WITHOUT using other helps, common sense, insights and prayer.

I don’t expect you to believe this or understand what I am saying, so we are going pick a difficult subject that will show this and go step-by-step with pictures so that you will understand how it happens, and in some cases, continues to happen.

The name Jesus

If we look in the text, we find the following verse in 2 of the most popular word-for-word translations:

Matthew 1:25 (KJV)

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Matthew 1:25 (NASB)

25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Let’s look at the Greek Interlinear ans see what it says:

Jesus

As you can see above, the interlinear verifies what the text in the KJV and the NASB state above it.

Here is where we have to use some common sense right from the start if we are to understand the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.  Let’s do this by asking a couple of questions:

  • Was Mary Greek or Jewish?
  • Was Joseph Greek or Jewish?

Okay, as simple as those two questions are, if you are unsure, let me show you what the text says the understanding was by King Herod and by the Magi:

Matthew 2:2 (NASB)

2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?

For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

So let’s ask a couple more questions:

  • Did Herod think the “King of the Jews” would be Greek or Jewish?
  • Did Herod’s priests and scribes think the Messiah would be Greek or Jewish?

If you are unsure, let’s see what the text says about it:

Matthew 2:4-6 (NASB)

4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'”

 Micah 5:2 (NASB)

2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

Okay, this may seem simple enough for some,  but I also understand that for some of you there may still be confusion.  The very first line of the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) will clear this up:

Matthew 1:1 (KJV)

1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1 (NASB)

1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Simple question based upon this verse:

  • Was the genealogy of “Jesus” Greek or Jewish?

Now comes some “tougher” questions.  Questions that may cause you to pause.  Questions that may confuse you.  Questions that may even scare a few of you.

  • Did an angel of the Lord tell Joseph to name the prophesied Messiah the Greek name Iēsous (which later became Jesus)?

Are you unsure?  Don’t feel bad if you are unsure.  That is why we are going through this step-by-step.  I want you to “see” what the text says.  I want you to test what I am saying against the text.  I want you to “know” what the text is saying.  Let’s see what the text says together:

Matthew 1:21 (KJV)

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 (NASB)

21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Uh-oh Houston, we got a problem!  Several in fact.  How so, you might ask?

  • Rome persecuted the Jews.  How would Joseph feel about an angel of the Lord telling him to name a Jewish child, he was to raise, by a Greek name?
  • How would the rest of the Jewish community that Joseph and Mary were part of view the naming of a Jewish child in their community by a Greek name?
  • The names of Jews had meanings.  For example, Yosef (Joseph) means “May YHVH add.” Miryam (Mary) means “she of strong will.”  What does the Greek word  Iēsous mean?

According to the second half of above verses in Matthew 1:21, logic would tell us that Iēsous would have to mean the following:

for he shall save his people from their sins.

or

for He will save His people from their sins.”

wouldn’t it?  If not, then this verse makes no sense.  That is one of the problems.   Iēsous is not a translation, is is a transliteration:  a letter by letter mapping from one language to another.  A transliteration has no meaning at the time it is done because it didn’t exist prior to the mapping of the letters when it was done.

Here is another problem:  What about when a dictionary says something without saying all of it?  Notice the following Strong’s entry for  Iēsous (Jesus):

Greek Strong’s Number: 2424

Greek Word: Ἰησοῦς

Transliteration: Iēsous

Phonetic Pronunciation: ee-ay-sooce’

Root: of Hebrew origin <H3091>

Cross Reference: TDNT – 3:284,360

Part of Speech: n pr m

Vine’s Words: Jesus

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

Jesus 972 Jesus (Joshua) 2 Jesus (Justus) 1 [Total Count: 975]

of Hebrew origin [<H3091> (Yehowshuwa`)]; Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites :- Jesus.

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2424”.

Notice at the bottom that it says:

(Yehowshuwa`)]; Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites :- Jesus.

Is (Yehowshuwa – Jehoshua) Greek or Hebrew?  If you don’t see that, how about the small statement:

of Hebrew origin [<H3091> or Root: of Hebrew origin <H3091>

What is “of Hebrew origin?”  We know it is NOT Iēsous. Iēsous is of Greek origin, not Hebrew.  Maybe we should see what the root origin means.

 Hebrew Strong’s Number: 3091

Hebrew Word: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎

Transliteration: yehôshuaʿ

Phonetic Pronunciation:yeh-ho-shoo’-ah

Hebrew Word: יְהוֹשׁוּעַ‎

Transliteration: Yehôwshûwaʿ

Phonetic Pronunciation: yeh-ho-shoo’-ah

Root: from <H3068> and <H3467>, Greek <G2424> and <G919>

Cross Reference:

Part of Speech:

Vine’s Words: None

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

Joshua 218 [Total Count: 218]

or Yehowshu`a, yeh-ho-shoo’-ah; from <H3068> (Yehovah) and <H3467> (yasha`); Jehovah-saved; Jehoshuä (i.e. Joshua), the Jewish leader :- Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare <H1954> (Howshea`), <H3442> (Yeshuwa`).

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3091”.

I am no going to go into the debate about Jehovah (Je Ho Va H) vs Yahweh (Ya H We H) other than to say most scholarship is in agreement that Yehovah is a MIS-transliteration of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH).  However, that is for another paper at another time.

Back to our digging deeper.  We find out that yehôshuaʿ is a contraction of 2 Hebrew words:

1.  3068  Hebrew Word: יהוה‎

Transliteration: yhwh

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3068”.

2.  3467 Hebrew Word: יָשַׁע‎

Transliteration: yāshaʿ

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3467”.

In other words, Joshua (yehôshuaʿ) means “YHVH is salvation.”  This makes sense when we look at the verse again (especially the second half of the verse):

Matthew 1:21 (KJV) 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Now notice what happens in Acts 7:45 when Stephen is rebuking the Sanhedrin (court) convened against him.  He recounts the history of the Jews starting at verse 2.  For context, I suggest that you read verse all of Chapter 6 and 7 together.  As Stephen gets to the end, he says the following:

Acts 7:45 (CJB) 45 Later on, our fathers who had received it brought it in with Y’hoshua when they took the Land away from the nations that God drove out before them. “So it was until the days of David.

Acts 7:45 (NIV) 45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,

Acts 7:45 (HCSB) 45 Our ancestors in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers, until the days of David.

Acts 7:45 (NKJV) 45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,

Acts 7:45 (KJV) 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;

Acts 7:45 (NASB) 45 “And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David.

I want you to notice how the KJV translates this verse as Jesus. I want you to notice how the other versions including the NKJV translate it as Joshua.  I want you to “SEE” why:

Joshua

Notice that the interlinear has Iēsous for Joshua here?  Another tough question:

  • Why is Iēsous translated into English as BOTH Joshua and Jesus?

While you are pondering that question, let’s reexamine the Strong’s entry earlier on Joshua:

or Yehowshu`a, yeh-ho-shoo’-ah; from <H3068> (Yehovah) and <H3467> (yasha`); Jehovah-saved; Jehoshuä (i.e. Joshua), the Jewish leader :- Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua.

Compare <H1954> (Howshea`), <H3442> (Yeshuwa`).

If we compare as it suggests, we find Strong’s number 1954 – the Hebrew Word: הוֹשֵׁעַ Transliteration: hôshēaʿ

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1954”.

This word has the meaning deliverer or salvation of the Lord.

Finally, if we compare the last one, we find the following:

 Hebrew Strong’s Number: 3442

Hebrew Word: יֵשׁוּעַ‎

Transliteration: yēshûaʿ

Phonetic Pronunciation: yay-shoo’-ah

Root: for <H3091>

Cross Reference:

Part of Speech:

Vine’s Words: None

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

Jeshua 29 [Total Count: 29]

for <H3091> (Yehowshuwa`); he will save; Jeshua, the name of ten Israelites, also of a place in Palestine :- Jeshua.

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3442”.

Tecnhically, yēshûaʿ is the Aramaic version of the Hebrew word yehôshuaʿ. Notice that Vine’s words has “none” as words for this.  It was the same for yehôshuaʿ earlier. On the other hand, notice that the Vine’s word for Iēsous is Jesus.

We find that the Aramaic word Yeshua means “he will save (as in YHVH (Adonai) will save – remember Joshua).” Let’s look at the text again:

Matthew 1:21 (KJV) 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

It is hard to ignore what is being translated in Yeshua when we see “He will save” as its meaning and then we read the 2 word for word-for-word translations above that state “he will save.” Problem is that Jesus doesn’t mean “he will save.” It is a transliteration, not a translation.  The word that actually has a  meaning that means“he will save” is Yeshua.

With that in mind, let’s re-examine some of the questions we asked earlier:

  • Rome persecuted the Jews.  How would Joseph feel about an angel of the Lord telling him to name a Jewish child, he was to raise, by a Greek name?
  • How would the rest of the Jewish community that Joseph and Mary were part of view the naming of a Jewish child in their community by a Greek name?
  • The names of Jews had meanings.  For example, Yosef (Joseph) means “May YHVH add.” Miryam (Mary) means “she of strong will.”  What does the Greek word  Iēsous mean?

Let’s examine another bible translation that understands the above questions in its translation strategy.  It is my version of choice because it goes beyond tradition and brings the Jewishness back to the text regarding our Jewish Messiah so that we can really understand what is being said:

Matthew 1:21 (CJB)

21 She will give birth to a son,

and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’]

because he will save his people from their sins.”

You see, when you look at this verse from a Hebrew context, you realize that the name the angel of the Lord told Yosef (Joseph) to name the child has:

  1. a definition:  YHVH (Adonai) saves
  2. a purpose:  “he will save” his people from their sins.

I want you to be really honest with yourself here.  If you can be, it will help you see things you might not see otherwise:

 “If you have called him Jesus your whole life, did you ever while you called him that, think about his name having a definition and a purpose?  More to the point, did you ever share the gospel with someone and tell them about Jesus while explaining to them that Jesus meant YHVH saves?  Did you ever tell them that Jesus means that“he will save?”  Did you ever tell them that his NAME is the promise AND the explanation?

 Maybe, just maybe, considering that an angel commanded Yosef what name the child in Miryam that was conceived by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was to have, and considering that Adonai changed peoples names such as Avraham and Sara, that He did this so that we could understand the message His word was trying to convey.

To be clear, I do NOT think you are a heretic if you call Yeshua by the name of Jesus.  However, if you have followed this post this far, I would wonder why you would want to from here on out?  Would it be because that is your tradition – what you are comfortable with?

Brothers and Sisters, please don’t use this knowledge to hurt others.  So often we want to share what we learn and we end up beating someone over the head with it – sometimes we even beat their brains out with it.  Doing that isn’t love.  Love is why we share.  Love is why we study.  Because we love God and because we love our neighbor.  The 2 commands Yeshua said were most important. If you share it, be kind and remember to have humility.  Otherwise, what is the point?

In part 2 of this post, we are going to tackle a few more tough things to come to grips with.

Blessings to all of you!

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About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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