We still have one more word to explore before we will know what the words “Jesus Christ Son of God” meant to Jesus, his Jewish followers and other members of the Jewish culture. That word is “Jesus.” The history of the name “Jesus” begins in an account in the Torah (first five books in the Bible). Yahweh commanded Moses to choose one man from each of the twelve tribes to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:8, 16).
Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun . . . These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea, the son of Nun, Yehoshua (Joshua).
The root word of Hoshea means "salvation," but at that time salvation did not mean “saved from Hell.” It meant “being delivered from some danger or threat.” When Moses changed Hoshea to Yehoshua the meaning of the name changed to "Yahweh-is-Salvation."
In the 5th Century BCE, the name Yehoshua was shortened to Yeshua (Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 8:17):
Those who came with Zerubbabel were Yeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah . . .
So the whole assembly of those who had returned from Babylonian
Captivity made booths and sat under the booths;
for since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun until that day
the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.
By the 1st century CE, probably due to Hellenistic influence, Yeshua was shortened to Y'shua. In the Greek New Testament, the name Yeshua appears two times as Iesous (Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8):
Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Iesous
into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out
before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David.
For if Iesous had given them rest, then he would not
afterward have spoken of another day.
In 382 Jerome made a Latin translation of the Christian Scriptures called the “Vulgate,” or “Common Bible.” Jerome translated the Greek word Iesous as Iesus. The Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus dominated the Western Christian world for almost 1,000 years.[i]
It should be noted that in the Talmud (6th century CE) the name Yeshu is used as a reference to the “Christian Jesus” instead of Yeshua. Yeshu is an acronym for “yemach shmo u'zikro,” which means "may his name be blotted out."[ii] This clearly reflects Jewish views that will be repeated in Rabbinic Judaism.
The Norman invasion of 1066 introduced the letter "j" to England, but the sound of “j” did not exist in Old English. In 1384, John Wycliffe made the first English translation of the New Testament from Latin. He preserved the Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus.[iii] The letter “J” was first distinguished from “'I” by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus (1515 – August 26, 1572) in the 16th century. He was a Protestant convert who was killed during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.[iv]
The letter “J” did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century. The 1611 edition of the King James Version, continued to use the name Iesus.[v] It would be in later editions of the King James Version that the hard "J" sound replaced male names that began with I or Y -- Iakob became Jacob, Yohan became John, and Iesus became Jesus.
The word “Jesus” did not appear in any Bible until the 18th century CE.
Columbus had arrived in the Americas over 200 years earlier.
That was when people began calling him “Jesus.”
Now let’s update what “Jesus Christ Son of God” meant to the Hebrew speaking first century CE Jewish culture:
“He is the One called by God to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, set at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaim the year of favor of Yahweh.”
Understanding “Yeshua’s Kingdom” requires an understanding of “the different Judaisms” that existed then. The Late Second Temple Period is one of the least understood periods in Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Yeshua specifically targeted “conflicts between those Judaisms” in his teachings. His goal was to “prepare people to be gathered together by God” before He did to them what He did to Noah’s generation -- except this time He would use fire instead of water! And, Yeshua expected that to happen in his lifetime.
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