The Sacred Name Movement (SNM) is a movement within certain sects of Corpus Christendom that claims to seek to conform Christianity to its “Hebrew Roots” in practice, belief and worship. The best known distinction of the SNM is its advocacy of the use of the “sacred name” Yahweh, and the use of the original Hebrew name of Jesus, often transcribed as Yahshua.
The Sacred Name Movement arose in the early 20th century out of the Adventist movement. Clarence Orvil Dodd, a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day), began keeping the Jewish festivals (including Passover) in 1928 and adopted sacred name doctrines in the late 1930s.
The Movement started with the formation of the Assembly of Yahweh in Holt, Michigan (USA) in the early 1930s. The leaders of this group claim that a founding member was visited by two angels who explained that The Messiah’s Name is properly Yahshua.
Visited by an angel that reveals a truth? That seems to be a basis in most cults throughout America and the world in general..
The Apostle Paul said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9 KJV).
The use of the sacred names has led to the production of Sacred Name Bible translations. Most of these Bibles use modern translations like the KJV with the common titles “God and Lord” replaced with the Sacred Names. These translations include The Word of Yahweh, The Scriptures, The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible, Angelo Traina’s Holy Name Bible, The Sacred Name King James Bible, The Sacred Scriptures (Family of Yah Edition), The Sacred Scriptures (Bethel Edition), The Hebraic Roots Bible, The Aramaic English New Testament, The Restoration Study Bible (RSB) and many other translations, some still in progress of being translated and published.
Some of the favorite passages of Scripture by Sacred Name Movement adherents are Psalms 9:10, Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21 and Acts 4:12.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
(Psalms 9:10 KJV)
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
(Joel 2:32 KJV)
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Acts 2:21 KJV)
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12 KJV)
Thus, according to their interpretations, one cannot call out to God through Jesus Christ and be saved without the knowledge of His true “sacred name.”
Yahshua is an argued transliteration of the original Hebrew or Aramaic name of Jesus commonly used by individuals in the Sacred Name Movement. The spelling Yahshua and Yahshuah are not found in Hebrew texts. The Hebrew Bible uses Yehoshuah and Yeshua, which means “YHWH is Salvation.” Christians, historians, and linguists outside the Sacred Name Movement for the most part reject the term Yahshua in favor of Yeshua as the original pronunciation.
Sacred Name Movement adherents teach that since the Messiah will “come in his Father’s Name” (John 5:43) then he must have the name of YHWH (Yahweh), or at least the abbreviated form (YAH) in his spoken name.
Critics say that in their labor to get the pronunciation Yahshua out of Yehoshuah, SNM adherents are ignoring Hebrew linguistics that do not allow the “waw” to be silent, so Yahshua is a questioned translation. Furthermore, it is argued by some that this pronunciation is not attested in antiquity, unlike the pronunciation Yehoshuah or Yehoshua.
Yeshua was a common alternative form of the name Joshua (Yehoshuah) in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple Period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous, from which comes the English spelling Jesus. In English the name Yeshua is extensively used by followers of Messianic Judaism as well as other Christian denominations who wish to use what they consider to be Jesus’ Hebrew or Aramaic name.
Yahshuah is a form of the Hebrew name of Jesus produced by mystical speculation at various periods of history, but which is rejected by mainstream linguistics and textual scholarship in the field of ancient languages. The first ones to use a name of Jesus something like Yahshuah were Renaissance occultists. In the second half of the 16th century, when knowledge of Biblical Hebrew first began to spread among a significant number of Christians, certain esoterically-minded or occultistic circles came up with the idea of deriving the Hebrew name of Jesus by adding the Hebrew letter shin ש into the middle of the Tetragrammaton divine name yod-he-waw-he (יהוה or YHWH) to produce the form yod-he-shin-waw-he (יהשוה).
Those who call the Messiah Yeshua or Jesus are accused of perpetuating a Jewish conspiracy and “denying His name” or “degrading Him” by their use of Yeshua or Jesus. I have heard some claim that the use of Yeshua or Jesus is blasphemy, taking the name of the Lord in vain, and even that the use of these names is the worship of the Antichrist. If you have never read or heard these outlandish accusations, you probably will eventually.
A person does not need to know Hebrew and Greek linguistics in order to be spiritual. However, if a person is going to take it upon himself to instruct others about subjects of a linguistic and Hebraic nature, he should know the Hebrew language and he should know some basics about linguistics. This is especially true if he is going to use his Hebrew-based linguistic teachings to accuse his brethren of being part of a “Jewish conspiracy” to “deny the true name of the Messiah.”
In Nehemiah 8:17, Joshua’s name is 100% identical to the name which today’s Messianic Jews use for the Messiah, Yeshua. Strong’s confirms this pronunciation, and tells us that there were ten Israelites in the Bible who bore this name (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H3442). Therefore the shortening of Yehoshua to Yeshua predates the Christian era by at least 500 years, and cannot be the result of a Jewish conspiracy to hide the Messiah’s true name. To claim that the shortened form Yeshua is the result of a Jewish conspiracy is to ignore the facts of history and the facts of the Hebrew Scriptures. The form Yeshua existed for several hundred years before the Messiah was even born. Even in the pre-Christian Septuagint, we see the Greek form IHSOUS (Yesous) in the title of the Book of Joshua. (This is also proof that Yesous has no connection to the pagan god Zeus.)
Why is the Yahshua form used by no one but Sacred Name Movement adherents and people who have been influenced by Sacred Name Movement adherents? Probably because no such name exists in the Hebrew Bible and, to my knowledge, no such name exists in any extra-Biblical Hebrew literature (other than SNM literature). It appears that Dr. Ben-Gigi is correct when he said, “People invented the name Yahshua to fit within their theology”.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about “doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising” (1 Timothy 6:4). Unfortunately, this is an accurate description of what goes on among many people in the Sacred Name Movement. Personally, I would rather fellowship with non-contentious people who call the Messiah Jesus than with contentious people who insist that everyone call Him Yahshua, an errant and false name and docytrine (Acts. 4:12).
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
(1 Timothy 6:3-5 KJV)
Also consider that those associated with the Sacred Name Movement like to refer to the Apostle Paul as Sha’ul. It is interesting to note that his name was Shau’l in the ninth chapter of Acts. Thereafter, Peter referred to him as Paul beginning in thirteenth chapter of Acts, which states, “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him” (Acts 13:9 KJV). Sha’ul is never referred to as anything but Paul again. This is obviously another story, but bears influence on this article.
This article was not written and compiled to persuade people to quit saying Yahshua. If people want to continue using a mistransliteration that was erroneously contrived by early Sacred Name Movement pioneers who didn’t know Hebrew, it really doesn’t matter to me. I doubt that their mistransliteration matters much to the Lord, either. What does matter, though, is the spreading of false accusations against Messianic Jews and Christians who call the Messiah Yeshua or Jesus Christ.
It is far past time that we as believers place stumblingblock in our brother and sisters paths, and the time to pass judgement on them (outside of Scripture) was never ours in the first place. It is written, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 14:8-13 KJV).