What’s in a name?

It is interesting unraveling some of the linguistic situations that present themselves in modern translations of the Bible. In the Christian Bible there is the Old Testament, which was originally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek; or was it? Then there is the Septuagint, which seventy Hebrew translators worked at translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek around the third century BC. This version helps us understand Greek words in the New Testament, and how the translators of the Septuagint would have translated them. Another translation to consider is the Latin Vulgate that Jerome translated sometime in the fourth century.

It’s all somewhat boring history until a person starts pulling things apart and realizes that many things really do evolve in translations and transliterations. When we translate we take a word in language A and use a word in language B that means the same thing. An example is chat in French means cat in English. Transliteration is a little different where a word would get spelled out the way it sounds in the original language and become a new word in the new language. The name Jesus is a good example of transliteration.

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

We see that in Matthew 1:21 they called his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. At first glance it would make a thinking person ask why? What does the name Jesus, on it’s own, have to do with saving people? To answer this we have to look at an event early in the history of Israel.

Num 13:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 13:2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
Num 13:3 And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
Num 13:4 And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
Num 13:5 Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
Num 13:6 Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
Num 13:7 Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.
Num 13:8 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun.
Num 13:9 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.
Num 13:10 Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.
Num 13:11 Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
Num 13:12 Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.
Num 13:13 Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.
Num 13:14 Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.
Num 13:15 Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
Num 13:16 These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.

Here we see Moses changed the name of the son of Nun from Oshea to Jehoshua. These are both transliterated names. Oshea is הושע, and Jehoshua is יהושוע, which literally mean Yah, a shortened form of Yahweh or יהוה, saves. So what does this have to do with Jesus and his name saving people from their sins? This is where the the Septuagint is helpful.

Num 13:16 ταυτα G3778 D-NPN  τα G3588 T-NPN  ονοματα G3686 N-NPN  των G3588 T-GPM  ανδρων G435 N-GPM  ους G3739 R-APM  απεστειλεν G649 V-AAI-3S  μωυσης N-NSM  κατασκεψασθαι V-AMN  την G3588 T-ASF  γην G1065 N-ASF  και G2532 CONJ  επωνομασεν V-AAI-3S  μωυσης N-NSM  τον G3588 T-ASM  αυση N-PRI  υιον G5207 N-ASM  ναυη N-PRI  ιησουν G2424 N-PRI

Strong’s G2424, the Greek word for Joshua, is translated as Iesous. “ee-ay-soos”

Thayer Definition:
Jesus = “Jehovah is salvation”
1) Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of mankind, God incarnate
2) Jesus Barabbas was the captive robber whom the Jews begged Pilate to release instead of Christ
3) Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor (Act 7:45, Heb 4:8)
4) Jesus, son of Eliezer, one of the ancestors of Christ (Luk 3:29)
5) Jesus, surnamed Justus, a Jewish Christian, an associate with Paul in the preaching of the gospel (Col 4:11)

If we look at the Tyndale English translation, from the early 1500’s, we see the name of Jesus in its transliterated Greek form. The English language didn’t have a J in the alphabet until a little later.

21 She shall brynge forthe a sonne and thou shalt call his name Iesus. For he shall save his peple from their synnes.

So Jesus could have been translated directly to Joshua, except the transcripts were in Greek, so it was Iesous, because that is what יהושוע is translated to when going from Hebrew to Greek.

Another name that took a strange turn is James. In the Old English version it was Iames because there was no J. Let’s look at it with the help of the Strong numbers.

Jas 1:1 James, G2385  a servant G1401  of God G2316  and G2532  of the Lord G2962  Jesus G2424  Christ, G5547  to the G3588  twelve G1427  tribes G5443  which G3588  are scattered abroad, G1722 G1290  greeting. G5463

Here James is writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. His name is Strong’s G2385.

The same as G2384 Graecized; Jacobus, the name of three Israelites: – James.

So James is the same as G2384, Jacobus. What does G2384 show us.

Of Hebrew origin [H3290]; Jacob (that is, Ja’akob), the pogenitor of the Israelites; also an Israelite: – Jacob.

Now we are getting to the bottom of it. James is really Jacob.

From H6117; heel catcher (that is, supplanter); Jaakob, the Israelitish patriarch: – Jacob.

It’s not Jacob though, because there is no J sound in Hebrew. It is pronounced Ya’acove. How did Jacob become James? I really do not know. It predated King James so we can’t blame him.

With all of this Hebrew to Greek and Greek to English, it is also interesting to see how God, Lord and יהוה are treated in the Septuagint, because we can then understand how Jesus and the Apostles used the same words.

Mat 4:10 Then G5119  saith G3004  Jesus G2424  unto him, G846  Get thee hence, G5217  Satan: G4567  for G1063  it is written, G1125  Thou shalt worship G4352  the Lord G2962  thy G4675  God, G2316  and G2532  him G846  only G3441  shalt thou serve. G3000

Here we have Lord, G2962 and God, G2316. A verse in Exodus that uses the same phrase, Lord thy God is as follows:

Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

In the Greek Septuagint, G2962 is used for Lord and G2316 is used for God.

Exo 20:5 ου G3364 ADV  προσκυνησεις G4352 V-FAI-2S  αυτοις G846 D-DPM  ουδε G3761 CONJ  μη G3165 ADV  λατρευσης G3000 V-AAS-2S  αυτοις G846 D-DPN  εγω G1473 P-NS  γαρ G1063 PRT  ειμι G1510 V-PAI-1S  κυριος G2962 N-NSM  ο G3588 T-NSM  θεος G2316 N-NSM  σου G4771 P-GS  θεος G2316 N-NSM  ζηλωτης G2207 N-NSM  αποδιδους G591 V-PAPNS  αμαρτιας G266 N-GSF  πατερων G3962 N-GPM  επι G1909 PREP  τεκνα G5043 N-APN  εως G2193 PREP  τριτης G5154 A-GSF  και G2532 CONJ  τεταρτης G5067 A-GSF  γενεας G1074 N-GSF  τοις G3588 T-DPM  μισουσιν G3404 V-PAPDP  με G1473 P-AS

Thayer Definition:
1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord
1a) the possessor and disposer of a thing
1a1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
1a2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
1b) is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
1c) this title is given to: God, the Messiah

Thayer Definition:
1) a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities
2) the Godhead, trinity
2a) God the Father, the first person in the trinity
2b) Christ, the second person of the trinity
2c) Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity
3) spoken of the only and true God
3a) refers to the things of God
3b) his counsels, interests, things due to him
4) whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble him in any way
4a) God’s representative or viceregent
4a1) of magistrates and judges

So Kurios is the word the Greeks used for the supreme being, יהוה (Yahweh), and Theos is what they used for God or gods, אלהים, (Eloheem).

With this in mind we could read Matthew 4:10 as follows:“Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship Yahweh Elohayka, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Elohayka being the possessive form of Eloheem, meaning Yahweh your God. Once a person identifies Kurios with Yahweh and Theos as god or God, it makes things interesting when you look at what is being said in some verses. We know John 1:1-3:

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Php 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Php 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So The Word was with God and was God, and all things were made by him. Also, “Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, in light of what is found in Isaiah:

Isa 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Isa 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isa 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear
Isa 45:24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
Isa 45:25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

We have to conclude that Jesus Christ is Kurios, to the glory of Theos, the Father, or Jesus Christ is יהוה, to the glory of Eloheem, the Father, or some such thing. I am not promoting a “oneness” doctrine here, but I can see where it comes from, where Jesus is declared Kurios in the letter to the Philippians and in Isaiah there is none beside the LORD, which is יהוה (Yahweh) in Hebrew or κύριος (Kurios) in Greek. The question I want considered here is this; what are we really saying when we say Jesus is Lord? Today in the Christian church do we understand who Jesus is? It’s a question to think about. There are exceptions, but I would say by looking around at the 40,000 plus groups that descended from the original church, the answer is, we do not think about who Jesus is, and He is in some cases made out to whatever our imaginations want him to be. Jesus gave the following warning:

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

After reading this statement by Jesus, the two questions I have are, one, what is the will of his Father in heaven, and two what is meant by working iniquity. The first word “will” is G2307 in the Strong’s Greek numbering system and defined by the Thayer Greek lexicon as follows:

Thayer Definition:
1) what one wishes or has determined shall be done
1a) of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ
1b) of what God wishes to be done by us
1b1) commands, precepts
2) will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

So God’s will could be summarized as one, what he intends to do for us, and two, what he expects us to do. We cannot do what God’s will is for himself, which is to bless mankind through Christ, but we can do what God wishes to be done by us. The next word to define is “iniquity”, which is G458 and a related word G459:

Thayer Definition:
1) the condition of without law
1a) because ignorant of it
1b) because of violating it
2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G459

Thayer Definition:
1) destitute of (the Mosaic) law
1a) of the Gentiles
2) departing from the law, a violator of the law, lawless, wicked

Joshua, the son of nun, says it best when he says the following:

Jos 24:14 “So now, revere Yahweh and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness; remove the gods that your ancestors served beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve Yahweh.
Jos 24:15 But if it is bad in your eyes to serve Yahweh, choose for yourselves today whom you want to serve, whether it is the gods that your ancestors served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve Yahweh.” (Lexam English Bible Translation)

One thought on “What’s in a name?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: