In October of 2015 I wrote a blog post entitled Jesus name is not יֵשֽׁוּעַ / Yéshu'a. This post explained in detail why יֵשֽׁוּעַ / Yéshu'a can not possibly be translated as "Jesus."
Recently this comment was submitted to the blog, and rather than post it as a comment it is presented here so that a detailed explanation can be given. The comment: "(1) In the Septuagint-Old Greek translation, the sixth book is Iésous, the Greek version of Yehoshua. (2) Yehoshua (Joshua), the son of Nun, is rendered as Iésous in Ecclesiasticus 46:1. And (3) the subscript to this book in 51:30 says that the book was written by Iésous ben Sira, which is the Greek rendering of Yehoshua' ben Sirach in Hebrew. Further, (4) the several mentions of Yehoshua' in Haggai (1:1, 12, 14; 2:2) and Zechariah (3:1, 3, 7, 9) are rendered Iésous in the same version. (5) So also the Aramaic form of Yehoshua' (Yeshua'), the son of Nun, in Nehemiah 8:17. (6) See further Nehemiah 8:7; 9:4; 12:1, 10, 24, 26 for other men who had the Aramaic name Yeshua. These are all rendered Iésous in the LXX-OG, not Jésouas, as you argue (there is no 'J' in Greek)."
#1 -- The book of Joshua is not found in the Septuagint.
The Septuagint is discussed in detail in the blog post "Greek or Hebrew -- which is most authentic? The "Septuagint."
The Septuagint was originally a translation only of the Torah, not of Joshua or any of the other books in the T'nach. No one knows who translated Joshua (or the other books) -- but it is well known that the quality varies from decent to horrendous. Likewise, the Greek translations were all maintained by the Christians. More and more errors crept into them causing people like Origen to state they should not be used and a new translation from the Hebrew should be requested from Jews.
#2 The name "Joshua" in the Greek translation of the book of Joshua you are calling the Septuagint is a mistranslation.
The transliteration of Y'hōshū'a should be Ιοσοα (Iosoa) or Ιοσοας (Iosoas), Ιοσαυα (Iosaua), or Ιοσα (Iosa), but the not-really Septuagint translation of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
This is a mistranslation.
The letter “-a” (ע / 'ayin) at the end of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is not represented in the Greek translation in the "not-really Septuagint."
The ע / 'ayin should be represented in a Greek translation -- because the ע / 'ayin is a part of the word’s root (Hebrew words are based on root words).
Ergo Ἰησοῦς / Iésous is a mistranslation of the name Y'hōshū'a / Joshua.
Whoever created (or changed) the translation of the name "Joshua" in the "not-really Septuagint" played fast and loose with the Hebrew.
Not only are they missing the ע 'ayin ("-a") there is another issue with the translation.
The various Hebrew names that are similar (meaning those names that begin the letters יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew) are all translated Ιω– (“Io–”).
But the translators did not translate יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) with Ιω– (“Io–”).
Why is it the only name begining with יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew that begins Ἰη-- (“Iē") and not Ιω– (“Io–”) is
יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a (Joshua / Jesus) Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”)?
Is it possible that the translators translated the other names properly, but somehow when it came to יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) they suddenly made a mistake?
Check for yourself.
Examine the fourteen Hebrew names in the T'nach that begin with the letters יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew, and then compare them to the transliterations of these names in the not really-septuagint.
Every single of those fourteen names which were translated into Greek begins with Ιω– (“Io–”) in all of cases EXCEPT for Ἰησοῦς / Iésous / יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a / Joshua.
יְהוֹאָחָז Y'ho'aḥaz is spelt Ιωαχας (“Ioakhas”),
יְהוֹאָשׁ Y'ho'ash is spelt Ιωας (“Ioas”),
יְהוֹזָבָד Y'hozavad is spelt Ιωζαβεδ (“Iozabed”),
יְהוֹיָכִין Y'hoyachin is spelt Ιωακιμ (“Ioakim”) [although this is actually an error],
יְהוֹיָקִים Y'hoyachin is also spelt Ιωακιμ (“Ioakim”),
יְהוֹנָדָב Y'honadav is spelt Ιωναδαβ (“Ioanadab”),
יְהוֹנָתָן Y'honatan is spelt Ιωναθαν (“Ioanathan”),
יְהוֹעַדִּין Y'ho'addin is spelt Ιωαδιν (“Ioadin”),
יְהוֹצָדָק Y'hotzadak is spelt Ιωσαδακ (“Iosadak”),
יְהוֹרָם Y'horam is spelt Ιωραμ (“Ioram”),
יְהוֹשֶֽׁבַע Y'hosheva is spelt Ιωσαβεε (“Iosabee”),
יְהוֹשַׁבְעַת Y'hoshav'at is spelt Ιωσαβεθ (“Iosabeth”), and
יְהוֹשָׁפָט Y'hoshafat is spelt Ιωσαφατ (“Iosaphat”).
All fourteen begin with יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew -- and all are all translated Ιω– (“Io–”).
יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
This seems to be less an error (since the other fourteen names were translated correctly) than to have been a deliberate choice by the translator(s) to make it look as though the spelling of the transliteration of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a into Greek has been altered to make it match the way יֵֽשׁוּ Yéshu (“Jesus”) is spelt in the Christian bible.
It looks like whoever translated Y'hōshū'a into the Greek doctored the translation to make it "fit" יֵֽשׁוּ Yéshu (“Jesus”) because the Greek in the translations is not the correct translation of the Hebrew into the Greek.
Why do I say it looks like a deliberate "doctoring" to influence Christian readers?
Because just as those fourteen names are translated correctly we also have examples in the T'nach of the Greek translators properly translating the letter “-a” (ע / 'ayin) at the end of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) -- which is not represented in the Greek translation in the "not-really Septuagint."
In B'reshit / Genesis 38:2 the name שֽׁוּעַ Shū'a is transliterated as Σαυα (Saua) in the not-really Septuagint.
In Shmuel Alef / 1 Samuel 14:49 and 31:2 a man named מַלְכִּי־שֽׁוּעַ Malki-Shū'a is translated into Greek as Μελχισα (Melkhisa).
The Greek translators got it "right" with those names, but not with "Joshua" which they seem to try to be "matching" to Jesus. . .
The transliteration of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) should be Ιοσοα (Iosoa) or Ιοσοας (Iosoas), Ιοσαυα (Iosaua), or Ιοσα (Iosa), but the not-really Septuagint translation of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
Ergo Yéshua is not Jesus' Hebrew name.
The name יֵשׁוּעַ (yeSHU'a) appears in the T'nach (Jewish bible) a a name twenty-eight times and once as the name of a town in the Judean desert. For details read The Yeshua Name Game by Uri Yosef. The name יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) appears in the Babylonian Talmud on 9 occasions.
So, Jesus Hebrew name was not “Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ -- a male name).
“Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ -- a male name) is not Hebrew. It is Aramaic.
It is an ARAMAIC "nickname" shortened from יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hoshu'a / Joshua. The name Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ) was only used during the Babylonian Exile (between 597- 539 B.C.E. After the Babylonian Exile ended the name was shortened even further to ; after the Return, the name יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) started to be shortened still further to יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) which is Hebrew, not Aramaic.
No one knows what Jesus' Hebrew name might have been, and without a time machine no one will every know. Given that Jesus supposedly lived 500 years or so post-Babylonian Exile it might have been יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) -- but we simply do not know, and the Greek name found in the Christian bible makes it impossible to know what his Hebrew name really might have been.
But we simply do not know.
Do not let missionaries who are trying to somehow get back to the "Hebrew roots" of Jesus fool you with their shenanigans. The facts do not support their guess -- which seems to be based on tying Jesus to "salvation" by choosing the fake name "Yeshua" for Jesus even though the etymology of the Hebrew disproves their "name game."
As Uri Yosef once wrote: "יְשׁוּעָה is a feminine noun (meaning salvation), and יֵשׁוּעַ is a masculine proper name, and their respective pronunciations are different. In the Hebrew language, terms applied as proper names generally follow gender. Conclusion: yeshu’AH ( יְשׁוּעָה / feminine noun) means “salvation" -- a term referring to being rescued (the physical life being saved by G-d). YeSHU’a ( יֵ שׁוּעַ / masculine proper name) can not be the Hebrew name for Jesus based on the Greek name we do have for him.
The Greek name for Jesus in the not really Septuagint are in error, seemingly on purpose.
There are missionaries who tout early Greek translations of the T'nach (Jewish bible) as superior to the Hebrew. How one can insist that a translation of anything is superior to original is mind boggling -- would a Russian translation of Shakespear's Hamlet ("To be or not to be, that is the question?") as "to be alive or dead -- which is better" -- it "loses something in the translation" is an understatement!
Most missionaries who make this claim are woefully ignorant of Hebrew. I have read some of them saying the Septuagint (the name given to ancient Greek translations of the Jewish bible) is superior because it is "1000 years older than the Masoretic Text."
The thought "well, duh" comes to mind.
The Masoretic Text is NOT the Hebrew from ancient times -- the Masoretic text is not the oldest Hebrew we have either! What is the Masoretic text?
Hebrew is written only with consonants (there are no vowels). Think of how hard it would be to read English if words were written without vowels. Cn y rd ths sntnc (can you read this sentence)?
For learned Jews this is not a problem, as the vowel sounds are obvious in context. When it comes to the bible, we've been reading it for thousands of years without written vowels -- and if you ever attend a Synagogue where the Torah is read you will note if a reader "stumbles" on pronouncing a word many voices will correct him. . . everyone KNOWS the Torah!
There are lesser educated Jews, though -- and in the Diaspora (exile) Hebrew was used primarily in prayer and not in every day use. The Masoretes came up with their vowel notation method between the 8th and 12th centuries CE.
The oldest versions of the T'nach are in Hebrew, and one can only speculate as to why missioanries insist on referencing the Masoretic Text (MT) - ignorance of Hebrew is the most likely answer. . .
The LXX (Septuagint) was a translation ONLY of the תּוֹרָה / Torah / Five Books of Moses / Pentateuch (not נְבִיאִים / Nevi'im / Prophets and כְּתוּבִים / Ketuvim / Writings) were not part of the original Septuagint -- so the missionaries who tout the "Septuagint" reference Psalms or Isaiah -- and apparently are ignorant that they were not found in the Septuagint at all (since they are not in the Torah).
What is today called the Septuagint (which is the entire Jewish bible in Greek) are translations into Greek from persons unknown at times unknown. There was no quality assurance and as a result they became heavily corrupted over time. By the 5th century the Christians gave up on the LXX / Septuagint because it was so corrupt -- so why people now are debating this is really interesting. The term "self-serving" comes to mind. Origen, an early church father (died 232 CE) tried to piece together a decent translation by putting 6 different versions side by side (called the Hexapla). Here is what HE says about how bad the Septuagint had become "we are forthwith to reject as spurious the copies in use in our Churches, and enjoin the brotherhood to put away the sacred books current among them, and to coax the Jews, and persuade them to give us copies which shall be untampered with, and free from forgery." Origen, A Letter from Origen to Africanus, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4.
There is also St. Jerome (early 5th century) who decided to re-translate from the Hebrew rather than rely on the Septuagint saying: "I was stimulated to undertake the task by the zeal of Origen, who blended (the Septuagint) with the old edition Theodotions translation."
Many of the "pro-Septuagint" missionaries are also "King James" translation enthusiasts. Yet the translators of the KJV (King James) also noted that the Septuagint (Greek translation) was corrupt. In the preface to the original KJV they wrote: "It is certain, that that Translation (e.g., the Septuagint) was not so sound and so perfect, but it needed in many places correction . . . . . the Translation of the Seventy (the Septuagint / LXX) was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after (Jesus), Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known."
The Torah (Five Books of Moses) has very extensive rules around how it is written. A sopher (scribe) who writes a Torah must follow these rules. A Torah is prepared today exactly as it was in the days of Isaiah, David and Moses himself. The 'nach (Prophets and Writings) was codified by the Men of the Great Assembly between 410 BCE and 310 BCE. This is about 1000 years before the first Masoretes. All the Masoretes did (I say "all" but they did wonderful things to bring the oral tradition to written form) was add the vowel notations to make it easier for those less learned to read the text.
These same missionaries will claim that most of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ancient Hebrew copies of most of the bible which are 2000 years old (some more, some less) agree more with the Greek translations. This is false. In Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls by world reknowned scroll expert Lawrence H. Schiffman he writes that "60% Proto-Masoretic texts, 20% Qumran style manuscripts, 10% Nonaligned texts, 5% Proto-Samaritan texts, and 5% Septuagintal type texts. Further more, the Qumran style manuscripts have their bases in the proto-Masoretic texts. The Masoretic type texts were dominant in the time of the Hasmonean period (about 160 B.C.E.)."
These "Septuagint is superior" folks will state that the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) agree with the Septuagint (LXX) more often than the Hebrew. This is also untrue. First of all only 5% documents found at Qumran (DSS) were Greek versions of the Jewish bible.
Of those 5% no one knows who made those translations or when -- or why. . . . we do know that there were multiple translators / translations and that the Christians maintained them (poorly, as they themselves admit).
Consider 4QJer.b which is the Book of Jeremiah in Greek from Qumran (the DSS) but it is missing large parts of the book. The DSS Jeremiah is missing 2700 words that are in the Jewish (Hebrew) bible. Speaking of Jeremiah in the Septuagint: "the Greek text itself is uneven, an unevenness which in the past has led scholars to posit that the two parts of the LXX (Septuagint) (1-28 and 29-51) were prepared by two different translators. Recently it has been proposed, with persuasive arguments, that the second half of the Greek translation is a revision of an earlier translation, the so-called Old Greek text, the latter having survived only in the first half of the text of the LXX." [Craige, Kelley, & Drinkard, WBC].
Sticking with Jeremiah, Jeremiah 23.7-8 comes after 23.40 in the Septuagint (so some copiest "moved" it). Anyone considering the Septuagint as reliable is deluding himself (or herself).
There are scroll fragments from Masada (contemporary with the DSS) and from Wadi Murabit (early 2nd C. CE) that are even closer to the Masoretic Text (MT) -- Hebrew albeit without the MT vowel notations. These ancient Hebrew versions are virtually identical to the Hebrew we have today; thus, proving the antiquity of the MT.
Do not let the Dead Sea Scrolls sidetrack you -- much of what was found was in Qumran was stored in a "graveyard." Just because they are old does not mean they are "better." Jews bury holy writings when they have errors or can no longer be maintained accurately. Thus finding an ancient Hebrew document which was buried or hidden may mean it was put away for the very reason that someone made a mistake in writing it (or it was irrepairable due to age). . . Still, most of the DSS supports the Hebrew versions, not the Greek versions / Septuagint - this includes the Great Isaiah Scroll which is one of the seven original DSS recovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1947. The scroll is written in Hebrew and contains the entire Book of Isaiah from beginning to end, apart from a few small damaged portions.
Not to mention that a Greek translation (however old) is STILL a translation! Why would Jews be relying on a translation versus the original Hebrew (and Aramaic)? Would you consider a translation of Shakespeare to be comparable to the original in English? Then why consider a Greek translation that is known to have insertions and forgeries as well as copious other errors to be a viable alternative?
Which brings up another point -- many of these "Greek is superior" folks will say that most Jews were speaking Greek, not Hebrew, 2000 years ago. This is also false. Schiffman makes that statement (above), but so did the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, who lived in those times (2000 years ago). Josephus was born in Jerusalem, he was a priest who worked in the Temple. He was also a General, who surrendered to the Romans and became a favorite of the Roman elite. Josephus is most famous for his histories of the Jews. He wrote: "….I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue (Hebrew), that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations. . ." Antiquities of the Jews 20:11:2.
Repeat that to those who insist that the Jews spoke Greek and not Hebrew. According to Josephus he had trouble learning Greek. Why? Because the Jews do not encourage learning other languages including Greek!
From the horse's mouth! The scholarly Encyclopedia Judaica wrote of what is today called the Septuagint:
"what we term the Septuagint is in fact an almost accidental gathering together of texts from diverse sources. . .scholars are struck by the very different ways in which translators approached their Hebrew. . . .We cannot even be sure of exactly what the LXX (Septuagint) "canon" contained. . .
For the most part, our earliest texts for this Greek material derive from codices (manuscripts in book form, rather than scrolls) from the third and fourth centuries C.E.; in particular, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and Codex Sinaiticus. The codices are uncials (that is, written in all capital letters) from important Christian scriptoria; therefore, they contain the LXX as part of their "Bible" (the New Testament completes it for them). . .it is certain that all sorts of scribal changes led to many differences, some substantial, between what the codices contain and what the earliest Greek (or Old Greek) read. . .
A reasoned and important conclusion from an analysis of all of this material is that what we term the Septuagint is in fact an almost accidental gathering together of texts from diverse sources.
. . . we simply do not know why translators treated their material as they did or why one Greek version of a book was chosen over another (when competing versions were available)."
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.