📄 What is in a Name?

Colorful Nativity Scene with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, an angel and other famous religious figures of the bible, enhanced with rays of light for devotional mood

By Dr. Michael Koplitz

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:26-33

It was in the 1970s that a commercial aired which said, “When E.F. Hutten speaks….people listen.” It was an impressive and successful commercial. Why? It implied that E. F. Hutten and company was a tremendous financial advising company. When they spoke about investments, everyone took notice. A rather slick idea. The other commercial that immediately comes to mind from the 1970s was Wendy’s, “Where’s the beef?” I draw your attention to the name, but I could go for a Wendy’s single right now.

What is in a name? For ancient people, a name was significant. Parents named their children by what they hoped for the child. Let us take a look at Jesus’ name. This name is not His real name. It is an English derivative of the actual name. His name was Yeshua. This Hebraic name is Joshua transliterated into English. There is a bit of history for why Yeshua became Jesus. The short history is that Jesus’ name came from Hebrew through Greek through Latin through German and eventually to English. So, why did Miriam (Mary’s real name) and Joseph name their firstborn son Yeshua?

Yeshua means “savior of his people.” So, Miriam and Joseph knew that their son was going to be the savior of His people. Miriam’s encounter with the angel Gabriel revealed that the Holy Spirit came to Miriam and she would conceive a son. Did the angel tell Mary what name to give her son? By telling her that He would be the savior of Yeshua’s people, He had to be named Yeshua.

The name of God that Moses received at the Burning Bush is pronounced Adonai by Jews. Christians like to use the name, Yahweh. The name Moses received was considered so powerful that it was only said by the High Priest while in front of the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple at Jerusalem on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). It was forbidden to speak the name of God except at that time. There was an incident when two of Aaron’s sons came out of the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and were struck down from Heaven. What happened? They spoke the name of the LORD. What a punishment. It illustrates to us that the sacred name of the LORD has POWER.

We do not know how to pronounce the name that Moses received. Hebrew does not have written vowels. Therefore, the exact pronunciation was lost after the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. There was no way for the High Priest to pass down the pronunciation of the name of the LORD.

Why do we have so many names for the LORD and Yeshua? The different names describe the characteristics and powers of the LORD and Yeshua. A rabbinic tradition says that you should use the name of God in your prayer. Which name should you use? It depends on what you are seeking from the LORD. For example, if you are ill and need healing, you use Adonai Raphah (Exodus 15:26). This is an ancient concept. However, it does work. Try it, and you will see.

There are numerous names for the LORD and Yeshua. What is offered here is a subset of the names. The first set are names of Yeshua from the Bible. The second set are some names for the LORD from the Hebrew Scriptures. The last set are from the Zohar (the mystical books of Judaism). Remember that there are plenty more. Always hold every name for the LORD and Jesus as sacred!

Names of YeshuaNames of the LORDThe LORD in the Zohar
Savior – 1 Tim 4:10Elohim (creator God) – Gen 1:1Keter (crown of creation)
Redeemer – Job 19:25El Roi (God who sees me) – Ps 139:12Chochman (wisdom)
Bread of Life – John 6:35El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty) – – Ps 84:8Binah (knowledge of all)
Lord – John 21:7Yahweh Rophe (the LORD heals) – Ex 15:26Chesed (mercy, love)
Creator – Is 40:28Yahweh Yireh (the LORD will provide) – Dt 15:4-5Gevurah (justice)
Son of the Living God – Mat 16:16Yahweh Shammah (the LORD is there) – Ez 48:35Tiferet (beauty, compassion)
Wonderful – Is 9:6Yahweh Nissi (the LORD is my banner) – Ez 17:15-16Hod (splendor, glory)
Counselor – Is 9:6Yahweh Raah (the LORD is my shepherd – Ps 23:1Yesod (foundation)
Mighty God – Is 9:6Yahweh Shalom (the LORD us peace) Judges 6:14
Prince of Peace – Is 9:6

Beloved Son – Luke 9:35

Alpha and Omega – Rev 1:8

Why do we have so many names for the LORD and Yeshua? The different names describe the characteristics and powers of the LORD and Yeshua.

May the LORD bless you in your learning and studying of His Word.

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Pastor Michael H. Koplitz, D.Min., Ph.D. is an ordained minister, author, teacher, and webmaster at BibleInteract. He currently lives in York Pennsylvania with his wife, Sandy, where he has been a pastor at the United Methodist Church for over 18 years.

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