There are proper names in the Bible that were invented through transliteration and words evolving between different languages. This is just a short list of names and words that have changed from the original languages into something different.
Satan is the first word that comes to mind. It is not a proper noun for a guy with horns and a pitch fork living in the underworld. It is a transliterated Hebrew word for adversary. “Transliterated” means that it is a word from one language that is spelled the way it sounds in another language. Satan is Strong’s H7854. It has evolved into a proper noun.
1) adversary, one who withstands
1a) adversary (in general – personal or national)
2) superhuman adversary
2a) Satan (as noun proper)
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
A Hebrew reader of Job would not think of satan as a proper noun when reading this verse. They would read “h’ [the] satan”, which means the adversary.
The word “LORD” also does not appear in scripture in the sense of being the proper name for the Creator. “LORD” is a substitution for יהוה, appearing over 6000 times in scripture and could be pronounced as Yahuah. Christians use “LORD” and Judaism uses “h’shem”, meaning “the name”, or “Adoni”, which means Lord, as a substitution for the Creator’s name. Yahuah told us to praise and proclaim His name; however, my understanding is that these religions adhere to an old Babylonian tradition that maintains their god’s name was too sacred to say out loud, so they used Baal, meaning Lord. It really obfuscates the Creator’s name in these religions. Yahuah prophesied about this very thing through Jeremiah.
Jer 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
Jer 23:27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
Someday in the future, the name of Baal will be removed and people will call the Creator by His proper name.
Hos 2:15 From there I will give her her vineyards, and the Valley of Achor as a doorway of hope. And there she will respond, as in the days of her youth, just as in the day of her coming out of the land of Egypt.
Hos 2:16 And on that day—a declaration of Yahweh—you will call me, “My husband;” you will no longer call me, “My Baal.”
Hos 2:17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they will no longer be mentioned by their name.
This brings to mind the words of Jesus, another person with a transliterated name.
Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
“Jesus” came from the Greek name “Iesous”. The saviour’s name in Hebrew is Yeshua or Yahusha, meaning the salvation of Yah. It would simply be Joshua in English. So the name that is above all names cannot be “Jesus” because there is no “J” sound in the Hebrew alphabet. It is an “ee” sound or “Ya” sound. The “J” was not introduced into the English language until the 15th century. “Name” is not just what we call someone, it is their fame and reputation. In that sense “Jesus” has become what English speakers call the saviour.
Another made up proper name is “Lucifer”. Jerome used this word in his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, and it carried into the English versions.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
The Scriptures’ translation transliterates the Hebrew word that has been translated to “Lucifer” in other translations.
Isa 14:12 “How you have fallen from the heavens, O Hělěl,c son of the morning! You have been cut down to the ground, you who laid low the nations! Footnote: cThe Shining One.
The eth-Cepher translation renders it like this:
14:12 How are you fallen from heaven, O Heylel, son of the howling morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
Another word that has become a proper noun is the word “Gentile”. This is another word from Latin that simply means “nations”, or people that do not belong to Yahuah. In this verse, we see capital “G” Gentile.
Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
The King James Version translation is different.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
The word that is being translated is Strong’s G1482, meaning from the nations, or heathen.
1) adapted to the genius or customs of a people, peculiar to a people, national
2) suited to the manners or language of foreigners, strange, foreign
3) in the NT savouring of the nature of pagans, alien to the worship of the true God, heathenish
3a) of the pagan, the Gentile
How many reading this blog post have heard a sermon about Saul’s name being changed to Paul after his road to Damascus experience? His name was Saul when persecuting Christians, but Jesus supposedly gave the reformed Saul a knew name “Paul”. The problem with this story is that there is no scripture to back up this claim. The only verse I can find is the following:
Act 13:9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
Act 13:10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?
Anyone reading this that knows of another scripture explaining the two names, please leave a comment. I am unaware of any. The most common explanation in commentaries is that a Benjaminite like Saul would also have a Roman name, such as Paulos, which explains the two names. Another explanation is that Saul’s other name was פעל, Pa’al. This is a Hebrew word for worker or maker, such as a tent maker.
One last translation that is not completely accurate is the mark of the beast, the dreaded 666. In the Greek transcripts it is written as three Greek letters, which do not necessarily translate to six hundred and sixty-six.
Rev 13:18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
The word for “666” is simply three Greek letters.
chi xi stigma
khee xee stig’-ma
The 22nd, 14th and an obsolete letter (G4742 as a cross) of the Greek alphabet (intermediate between the 5th and 6th), used as numbers; denoting respectively 600, 60 and 6; 666 as a numeral: – six hundred threescore and six.
The problem with calling it 666 is that this is not normally how six hundred and sixty-six would be written in Greek. It is too lengthy, and quite a boring explanation, so the reader will need to do their own research. The dreaded mark is best written as χξς.
Hopefully, some of this has been interesting and will encourage more study into the scriptures. When one speaks of satan, they are actually speaking Hebrew, talking about the adversary. Lucifer is another description of possibly the same entity, meaning light bearer.
More importantly, we know the name of the creator now, instead of the substitute Baal. When a person says “praise the name of the Lord”, I would think it would be important for us to know the name to praise.
The featured image is by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.
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