ASL. Concerning ‘The Lord Jesus’ by J. A. Brown

Original copied from the TORAH APOLOGETICS websites, authorJ. A. Brown, from the URL https://torahapologetics.weebly.com/language–word-studies/concerning-the-lord-jesus. Formatting of the original article has been preserved. I have copied this article for fear of losing it. Much of the writing or Torah Apologetics is now over a year old. I value this article because for me it puts to rest the suggestion the “Jesus” means “earth pig.” in Latin. This troubled me for years, so much so that I began using the name Joshua on this website. I will now discontinue that practice.

 

 

CONCERNING ‘THE LORD JESUS’

3/22/2016

This writing will be brief (compared to some of my other writings). I simply want to use a few historical and Scriptural facts to make a few points, and primarily to address some false assumptions and false teachings that are going around. If you’ve been Torah Observant (and been on the Internet) for any length of time, you’ve no doubt encountered most if not all of these teachings. Sadly, many fall for them when they are new to this walk. The feeling that you’ve been lied to and betrayed by the Christian Church for so long has led many to reject any and all orthodoxy. I tend to say, “A little bit of orthodoxy can go a long way.” And yet, not everything the Church does is wrong. Not everything they believe is a lie. And many things are merely misconceptions.

 

This article will not be a popular one, as those that need to read it the most will likely disagree wholeheartedly based on their current belief system, and I honestly believe few will change their stance, or even look it up for themselves. Nonetheless, I pray that you will search these things out for yourself, and test them against the Word. Further, I ask that if you still disagree with me, PLEASE don’t feel the need to bash me (or anyone else). However, please DO look things up for yourself. It is our responsibility as Believers to test what we’ve been told, and that goes for Christian teachers as well as Messianic teachers.

There are three things I want to address: “Jesus,” “Lord,” and “Adonai.” There is quite a bit of misinformation going around regarding these words. Some arise from wishful thinking, and some are a complete farce. The theories for these appear to be primarily as follows:

Jesus – The main theory, by far, is that it means “hail Zeus.” This theory existed more than 30 years ago, though was greatly popularized by Lew White in his book “Fossilized Customs.” According to White, the name “Iesous” really comes from “Ie” meaning “to hail/praise” and “Sous” being a moniker for Zeus, which tells us that the name “Iesous” means “hail/praise Zeus.” Other theories include “Jesus means ‘horse’ in Hebrew” or “hippo.” Another claim is that the Greek Ιησους (Iesous) from which is derived the Latin Iesus and the English Jesus, pays homage to Zeus (in the “sous” ending) as well as to the goddess of healing “Iaso / Ieso.” One less common theory also purports that “sus” means “pig” in Latin, and that “je” means “land/earth” and thus “je-sus” means “earth pig.”

Lord – Again popularized by Lew White (as well as Dr. Chris Koster), it is said that the English title “Lord” is a reference to an ancient Roman house-deity named “Larth.” What is more, according to these proponents, is that “Lord” is what the Hebrew name “Baal” means. Thus, according to Lew White, calling our creator “Lord” is the same as calling Him Baal.

Adonai – They say that this term, which is the Hebrew equivalent of the English “lord” or “master” is a perversion. They say that Hellenistic Jews stole this term from the Greek god Adonis, and so they began to call YHWH by the title “Adonai” being a form of “Adonis,” and thus continuing this tradition must mean that they are referring to the Almighty by a pagan name.

It is not difficult to see, and indeed one does not have to search the internet very hard to find the many flaws in these theories. It seems that we have all realized we’ve been lied to so much by modern Christianity, that we want to flee all association with anything that seems too “Christian” or even too “Jewish.”

Before giving the facts on these three words, let me first make a statement. I do not refer to the Son of Elohim as “Jesus.” Personally, I avoid that name, as it is clearly not His Name at all. Couldn’t be, simply because it has a letter “J” (if you’re unaware, there is no letter “J” in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek). Add to this the fact that the “Jesus” that Christians so often preach is anti-Torah, and this is not at all the True Biblical Messiah. So for me (personally), the name “Jesus” has a bit of a stigma. I also very rarely use the terms “Lord” and “Adonai;” though “Adonai” does indeed appear in the Scriptures. So again, let me be clear: I am not advocating the use of these names/titles. I am merely seeking to dispel some of the atrocious false teachings out there, that fail the test not only of Scripture, but completely lack any historical backing as well.

Jesus – True, it is not His Name. Period. But let me point something out first and foremost: it does NOT mean “hail Zeus” nor does it mean “horse” or “earth pig” either. Yes, the Hebrew word “soos” (סוס) does mean ‘horse.’ But the name Jesus in English or the Greek Ιησους is completely unrelated to this Hebrew word. Indeed, even if we backwards transliterated (took the name Iesous from Greek back into Hebrew) it would be spelled with the letter shin (ש) and not samekh (ס) as “soos” is. But perhaps to further discredit this outrageous “horse” idea, let’s examine the word “sus” (soos) that is spelled not with a samekh (ס) but with a shin (ש). I invite you to look up in a Strong’s Concordance the word “sus” spelled שוש. The Strong’s number is 7797. See what that word means? “Rejoice” and “exult.” So if we’re taking the Greek BACK to Hebrew, and DIGGING for a meaning, I could much more easily say the name is tied to the word for “rejoice” instead of the word “horse.” But nonetheless, this is all irrelevant.

“Zeus” is spelled zeta-epsilon-upsilon-sigma (Ζευς) in Ancient Greek. In modern Greek (which would have no bearing on ancient, Biblical, Koine Greek at all) it is spelled Dias: delta-iota-alpha-sigma (Διας). The “Sous” in “Iesous” is spelled sigma-omicron-upsilon-sigma (σους). Not the same at all. Not even etymologically related.

Now the true part of this is that the Greeks did indeed have a goddess of healing called “Ieso,” or the variant spelling of “Iaso.” [1] But even that is spelled iota-eta-sigma-omega (Ιησω), not the same as Iesous (iota-eta-sigma-omicron-upsilon-sigma). Similar SOUNDS do not automatically mean they are etymologically related.

Simply put, the only way to spell “Yeshua” in Greek, following Greek grammar rules, is “Iesous.” If you don’t believe me, go read the Septuagint, which was translated more than a hundred years before Messiah was born. They translated both “Joshua” (Yehoshua) and “Jeshua” (Yeshua) as “Iesous.” Yes, that’s right, BOTH names were written as “Iesous.” The reason is as follows:

In Hebrew, the Name Yeshua is spelled yod-shin-vav-ayin (ישוע). (You may believe it is Yahshua, or Yahusha, or whatever else, but regardless the only difference is adding a hey (ה) in there somewhere). This could be written as Y-Sh-U-A. In Greek, there is no “Y” and to transliterate names that have a yod (י) they used an iota (ι) followed by whatever other letter was needed to complete the vowel by making a dipthong. Thus in the case of Yeshua, it is IE (Ιη) to simulate the yod-tsere. In the case of Ya’aqov, it is IA (Ια) to simulate the yod-pathach (Iakobos), in the case of Yochanan it is IO (Ιω) to simulate the yod-cholam waw (Ioannes), and so on. So with this, we could then spell Yeshua in Greek as Ieshua, right? Wrong. There is no “sh” sound in Greek, there is only a “s.” So then we would have to trade the shin for a sigma, thus writing it as “Iesua (Ιησυα).” Well that would actually work, but then we have a problem: that name is feminine. Masculine names end in sigma (s) and feminine names end in alpha (a) the vast majority of times. Just like masculine in Spanish ends in “o” while feminine ends in “a.” (An example would be Abuela, “grandmother” and Abuelo, “grandfather.”)

So we would then have “Iesus.” However, that would be pronounced “Yehs-US” and not “Yeh-sOOs” which would be needed to preserve the “oo” sound in “YeshUa.” So the extra omicron was added to preserve the “oo” sound of the cholam-waw, thus giving us “Iesous” (Yeh-soos). Simply put, with the limitations of the Greek alphabet it is not possible to write the name “Yeshua” in Greek. The closest you could spell it would be “Iesua” which is then feminine. So to a later reader of the text, he may assume that this person called Messiah is actually a woman. Just as we have no letter like the Hebrew tsade (צ), we have to use the two letters “ts” or “tz” to represent it. Such as the Hebrew word עץ (ets) which means “tree.” The one letter tsade makes the sound of “ts” such as in “cats.” So in English, we have to use two letters together to make the same sound. Just as in Greek you have to substitute an omicron and an upsilon for the single Hebrew waw to make the “oo” sound.

If you’re still not convinced consider this: there are two primary words in Koine Greek for “hail.” Surely we would expect at least ONE of them to be present in construct of Iesous if it means “hail Zeus” right? Here are the words:

  1. χαίρω (chairo) which means “rejoice” or “be glad” in form of a salutation.
  2. καλώ (kalo) which means “to call” or “to hail.”

Note that neither of those constructs are in any resemblance to the name Iesous.

Lord – Does it come from the Roman “Larth”? Does it mean “baal”? No and no.

When people cite “sources” to claim that “Lord” comes from “Larth” (or another false god), they usually just make the claim. They say “lord” is etymologically derived from the name Larth, and thus it really refers to the god. This, however, is not in the least true. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (one of those things we call “reputable sources”) the word is derived from the Old English “hlaford” which itself is actually a loan-term from the old Germanic word “hlafweard” meaning “loaf-ward” or “bread keeper.” This refers to the tribal custom of a chieftain (master or lord of his village) having the responsibility of providing food for his followers. How much MORE does this describe out Creator, since it is He who provides for us? Does manna come to mind to anyone else? YHWH was the “hlafweard” or “bread keeper” of the Israelites in the Wilderness. “Hlaford” was, when coming into later English, changed to “lorde” and eventually lost the final “e” to become the “lord” as we know it today. [2] A simple study of Anglo-Saxon history grants a much deeper understanding of this word throughout the years.

So where, then, does “Larth” come in? It is actually Etruscan, not Roman. It refers to the Greek “hero” story of Laertes, who was the father of Odysseus (if you know the story of the Odyssey. If not, you can check this out for yourself). [3] So the name “Laertes” was etymologically related to Larth, which likewise means “lord/master” but has no relation to the etymology of the English term at all! [4] According to the Perseus online dictionary, “Lars” was used as an honorary title, and in much the same way as “lord” is used in England. This is also comparable to having Dr. or Rev. pre-fixed to one’s name to display their status and/or honor. Thus, as with “baal” that we see below, it is actually backwards. “Lord” does not mean Larth (that is, it does not refer to some god or even national hero). Rather, the term Lars is the equivalent to the English title “Lord.”

As for “lord means baal” it, too, is backwards. Baal (which, by the way, is a term applied to YHWH in Scripture in Hosea 2:16, among other places) simply means “lord” or “owner” and in some contexts also means “husband.” For the Shem Qadosh Version, I preferred to translate baal as “owner” rather than “master” in order to differentiate it from the Hebrew “adon.” So as mentioned with “lars” so too does “baal” mean “lord/master/owner.” Merely titles, not references to false gods.

Adonai – I could simply write this one off by saying, “Adonai is a word that is IN THE SCRIPTURES!!!” But I’ll go a little deeper. This one is actually the easiest to explain. The word adonai does not come from Adonis. Rather, the name Adonis is a Hellenized (Greek) form of adoni [5]. Adoni (minus the “a”) is the same in Hebrew, Phonecian, Ugaritic, and possibly even other old Semitic languages. It means “my lord.” It is the word adon (lord) with a yod suffix, making it possessive: my lord. It is used in many places in the Scriptures. There is also a form of this word, with changed vowels in Hebrew, that is rendered as “Adonai” and is used many times in reference to YHWH. It is used over 300 times referring to YHWH. It is usually used along with YHWH, and in most Bibles is rendered “The Lord God” but literally is “Adonai YHWH.” (See Isa. 10:23,24; 22:5-15 for examples).

Simply put, a lot of these theories lack any real research and scholarship. It is akin to me saying that the Hebrew name of the Book of Genesis, Bereshit, is actually a slang term referring to human excrement (given the last four letters of Bereshit). Is this true? Not at all. Just because a word in one language sounds like a word in another language, does not mean they are related. Sometimes they are, but most times they are not. Just because, in English, “Zeus” sounds (and almost looks) like “Sous” does NOT mean they are related.

This article is already longer than I intended, so I’ll end here. Simply put, the conclusion of this article is this: “Jesus” is not our Savior’s Name. However, it is not some pagan conglomeration of “hail Zeus” or “the horse.” The Greek name “Iesous” actually predates Yeshua’s earthly ministry by well over a hundred years. HOWEVER, when translating the English Bibles, at the very least His name should have been rendered the same as Iesous was elsewhere: Joshua (or even Jeshua). So the fault lies in the English translators, who chose to keep the name “Jesus” even knowing that it was more accurate to use “Joshua” or “Jeshua.” However, again, this does not mean that the Greek Iesous pays homage to Zeus.

“Lord” is an Old English word derived from an old Germanic word, which actually has a lot of cultural history behind it. This word is, strikingly enough, a rather good English description of YHWH Elohim. However, it is not His Name. I think THAT is the important understanding to have: He HAS A NAME! It is not “Lord” or “God.” He has many TITLES, but only one Name: יהוה.

Adonai did not derive from Adonis, but Adonis derived from Adonai. The pagans took many names and titles and applied them to their gods at a later date, should we abandon them all as well? But what is more, is that Adonai is used to describe YHWH IN THE SCRIPTURES!

Lastly, I will again reiterate my belief that Jesus is NOT the Savior’s Name. I also do not see why anyone would want to continue calling Him Jesus, especially after learning that not only ISN’T His Name, but CAN’T be His Name. I respect and honor Him, so I desire to call Him by His actual Name. As believers it is our responsibility to continue growing, and to be as accurate as we can. The same goes for the calendar. We may not be able to do 100% of the things we’re supposed to on the Feast Days (such as going up to Jerusalem to the Temple). And we may not (sorry, everyone) have the days 100% correct. But what we can do, no matter what, is be as accurate as we know how. That is how I view His Name. I say, “Yeshua.” That may not be correct pronunciation. It may be Yehoshua. But the best I can do with the resources available to me is to get as close as I possibly can. And that ain’t Jesus.

So now you may be wondering: what’s the point of this article, then, if I don’t say “Jesus” anyway? Simply, to set the record straight. To address the massively flawed arguments out there that keep getting regurgitated. If you don’t like the name Jesus, that’s fine. Don’t use it. But don’t go around spreading false information that it is somehow “evil” or “pagan.” It is true, that the English translators should have changed it to “Joshua” as soon as they realized that the references to Yehoshua son of Nun in the NT, whose name is also spelled Iesous in Greek, were not referencing “Jesus.” But regardless of why it’s there now, the name Jesus is not pagan. It is not evil. It simply is not the Name of the Messiah of Yisra’el.

But, I digress. I know most people will disagree with me on this. However, I just hope that you actually do your own independent research, and not simply rely on the words of people like Lew White or CJ Koster or any of them. Look it up yourself, in some well-documented sources. There is quite a bit of false information out there.

Be Berean. Shalom.


[1] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). “Iaso”. In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 2. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 552.
[2] Online Etymology Dictionary. etymonline.com. Entry lord, n. 2016.
[3] Homer (1998). The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. Macmillan. pp. lx. ISBN 9781466801479
[4] Lewis, Charlton & al. A Latin Dictionary, founded on Andrews’s edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary, revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten. “Lar”. Clarendon Press (Oxford), 1879.
[5] Grimal, Pierre. L’art des jardins. 1974, pp. 94–95.