The first sound of the second syllable of Yeshua is the "sh" sound. It is represented by the
Hebrew letter shin. However Greek, like many other languages
, has no "sh" sound. Instead, the
closest approximation, the Greek sigma, was used when transcribing "Yeshua" as "Iesus".
Translators of English versions of the New Testament transliterated the Greek transcription of a
Hebrew name, instead of returning to
the original Hebrew. This was doubly unfortunate, first
because the "sh" sound exists in English, and second because in English the "s" sound can shift
to the "z" sound, which is what happened in the case of the pronunciation of "Jesus".
ne hears in the name Yeshua is the "u" sound, as in the word "true". Like the
first three sounds, this also has come to be mispronounced but in this case it is not the fault of the
translators. They transcribed this sound accurately, but English is not a p
honetic language and
"u" can be pronounced in more than one way. At some point the "u" in "Jesus" came to be
pronounced as in "cut," and so we say "Jee
The "a" sound, as in the word "father," is the fifth sound in Jesus' name. It is followed by a
guttural produced by contracting the lower throat muscles and retracting the tongue root
unfamiliar task for English speakers. In an exception to the rule, the vowel sound "a" associated
with the last letter "ayin" (the guttural) is pronounced before i
t, not after. While there is no
equivalent in English or any other Indo
-European language, it is somewhat similar to the last
sound in the name of the composer, "Bach." In this position it is almost inaudible to the western
ear. Some Israelis pronounce thi
s last sound and some don't, depending on what part of the
dispersion their families returned from. The Hebrew Language Academy, guardian of the purity
of the language, has ruled that it should be sounded, and Israeli radio and television announcers
quired to pronounce it correctly. There was no letter to represent them, and so these fifth
and sixth sounds were dropped from the Greek transcription of "Yeshua,"
the transcription from
which the English "Jesus" is derived.
So where did the final "s" of
"Jesus" come from? Masculine names in Greek ordinarily end with
a consonant, usually with an "s" sound, and less frequently with an "n" or "r" sound. In the case
of "Iesus," the Greeks added a sigma, the "s" sound, to close the word. The same is true for t
names Nicodemus, Judas, Lazarus, and others.
English speakers make one further change from the original pronunciation of Jesus' name.
English places the accent on "Je," rather than on "sus." For this reason, the "u" has shortened in
its English pronunci
ation to "uh."
In the West, a child's name is often chosen for its pleasant sound, or because another family
member had it. The Jews of the Second Temple period also named after relatives (Luke 1:59
However, almost all Jewish names have a literal mean
ing. Occasionally this is seen in English
names too, such as Scott (a person from Scotland), Johnson (son of John), and Baker (bread
maker). But with Hebrew names it is the rule, rather than the exception.
The name Yeshua means The L
ORD's Salvation, or Cry Out to the LORD for Help. It is the
short version of Yehoshua, literally "YHWH saves (or turns) us". In comparison, prior to being