Q & A Series:  Does Jesus’ Name Mean “Yahweh the Savior”?


By Craig Bluemel



From: Rick

To: Craig

RE: Meaning of the name of Jesus


Hi Craig,


Can you spell out how Jesus’ name came to mean Yahweh the savior by adding yah to oshea etc?  







Craig’s Answer:




Hi Rick,


In the New Testament, Jesus is a proper name derived and transliterated (not translated) from an anarthrous (without any definite article) Greek noun Ieesoús, which is pronounced as sounding similar to the Spanish version of Jesus “ee-ay-sooce” or “ee-yay-sooce.” 


Ieesoús is first used for Joshua in the Septuagint; the Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that was produced about 280 B.C. for Hellenistic (Greek speaking) Jews living at Alexandria.  By the time Jesus was born, the Septuagint had become widely circulated and was the Old Testament Bible used in most Jewish synagogues because Hebrew was a fading dialect.


The reason I mention how and where this Greek word Ieesoún began being used in Scriptures is twofold.  First, Ieesoús is the Greek word for ‘Jesus’ in the New Testament.  Secondly, in the Septuagint Greek Old Testament, Ieesoún is the same word used for Joshua in Numbers 3:16. 


In its original Hebrew form, Joshua is the word that you mentioned in your email, which is compounded from Yahweh and Oshea.  However, my research did not verify the meaning of Jesus as ‘Yahweh the Savior.’  The name Joshua in the Old Testament originates from Numbers 13:8, 16, when Moses changed Oshea’s name to Yehoshua. 


Numbers 13:8 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea, son of Nun;


Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men whom Moses hath sent to spy the land; and Moses called Oshea son of Nun, Yehoshua` (Jehoshua).


After the Babylonian Exile, the Jews who continued use of this name Yehoshua` but they condensed its form to Yeshua   During the 15th thru 18th centuries A.D., when the Bible was being translated and circulated to use into the English language, certain alphabetic letters that were common to English, such as the letters ‘J’ and ‘V’ were considered phonetically incompatible with the phonetic sound of the Hebrew ‘Y’ (in its transliterated form) and in many places, the ‘W.’


As a result, major modifications were made to names in Scripture such as:


Yehoshua was modified to read Joshua.

Yeshua was modified to read Jeshua.

Yehowah, the first transliterated form of the Yahweh from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH) was modified to read as Jehovah.



The Meaning of the Name Jesus


Since the names Jesus and Joshua are used as one word Ieesoús in the Septuagint, there is some justification for saying the two words are the same.  However, there are contextual differences, which do affect the meaning of the name.  Let’s begin by examine the meaning of the Hebrew words for Oshea and Yehoshua as they appear in Numbers 13:8, 16.  I compared and used several different Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek lexicons and dictionaries.


Oshea (OT:1954) means ‘deliverer’ or ‘he will save.’   Oshea is derived from a root verb yasha (OT:3467) that means to help, deliver, save; to free or comfort. 


The essential meaning of Oshea involves removing someone from a burden, or from oppression, or from impending danger.  In the Old Testament the word is frequently used of removing or seeking to remove someone from the danger of defeat.  In Jeremiah 23:6 is a prophecy about Israel’s future messianic king that illustrates with yasha the meaning of Oshea as preserving others from danger, ‘In his days Judah shall be saved (yasha), and Israel shall dwell safely...’  


Yehoshua or Joshua (OT:3091) prefixes oshea with a contracted form of Yahweh and connotes one of several possibilities for its meaning as:


    Yahweh is salvation,

    Yahweh is deliverance,

    Yahweh delivers,

    Yahweh saved,

    Yahweh is his help

    Yahweh by him would save

    Yahweh is deliverance or magnificence


Joshua learned to rule by obeying first; then he ruled for God, not self.  In like manner, the New Testament scriptures teach us that Jesus learned obedience thru what he suffered, and this prepared him to be the author of our salvation.


 Hebrews 5:7-9 {Jesus} who, in the days of his flesh, when he{Jesus}  had offered up prayers and supplications, with intense cries and tears to Him {God} who was able to save him {Jesus} from death, and was heard because of his {Jesus}  godly fear, though he {Jesus} was a son, yet he {Jesus} learned obedience by the things which he {Jesus} suffered.  And having been perfected, he {Jesus} became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.


In closing, we learn from this passage in Hebrew 5:7-9 the true meaning of the name Jesus; not as ‘Yahweh the Savior’ but rather as a man, he learned obedience thru his prayerful dependence upon God to save him, giving his name the meaning, ‘Yahweh was his help and saved him.’


However, the meaning of the name of Jesus does not stop there, but continues because, as a result of his obedience, and having been made perfect, Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him, giving his name this meaning, ‘Yahweh by him will save and deliver to the uttermost, those who obey his commandments.’


Having this as our foundational understanding, let me summarize by leaving you with the words that were spoken by the angel Gabriel, sent from God the Father to deliver to Joseph, husband of Mary, the name to be given to the baby boy that would one day give his life in death that thru his resurrection others would find his life:


Matthew 1:20-21 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”  New American Standard Bible





Craig Bluemel

The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give reasonable justification to anyone who asks you for an explanation of the hope that is within you,  but do it considerately and courteously.




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