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This question is in regard to Matthew 1:21, "His name shall be called Jesus for he will save his people from their sins." The question has two parts.

1) Strongs equates the name "Jesus" with the Hebrew name "Joshua or Johoshua." On what basis does he do this?

2) It appears as though the name "Joshua" "Ya-Save/salvation/saves" is trans‌literated over into Greek and English in the NT without difficulty, seeing that it appears in Luke 3:29, Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8. Why then is the name trans‌lated "Jesus?" Does "Jesus" mean God is salvation in Greek? When I read in Matthew 1:21, there seems a complete linguistic disconnect between the name "Jesus" and God saving.

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  • Too broad and should be broken up into two parts: A.) The original poster does not seem active - and the question states it is actually two questions. B.) This question should be re-titled: "What is the Basis to Transliterate "Joshua" as "Jesus"? C.) Suggested another question, for the second part: Matthew 1:21 - Why is the Name Jesus not Transliterated as Joshua? Aug 16, 2016 at 9:31
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    As Luke Sawczak points out, both Jesus (the Son of God) and Joshua are written "Ιησους" in the original Greek. I suspect, however, some English translations choose to make a distinction between Joshua ben-Nun and Jesus Christ for the sake of making their translation easy-to-read. I mean, the average reader might not know that "Jesus" means "Joshua" in Greek. Jun 7, 2018 at 5:17
  • In the Christian West, the Old Covenant, starting with Jerome's fourth century Latin Vulgate, has been translated from the Hebrew. As such, the familiar transliterations from the Hebrew were preferred to having two name versions for one and the same biblical character (i.e., the King James Version, for instance, consistently has Elijah in the OT, and Elias in the NT).
    – Lucian
    Jun 11, 2018 at 14:03
  • Acts 13:6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
    – user35953
    Aug 12, 2020 at 23:54

6 Answers 6

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This is just to add to Mike's answer, not to replace it.

Joshua does not transliterate into Greek exactly. There are letters in Hebrew that are simply not there in Greek. The Greek of Luke 3:29, Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 all have Ἰησοῦ/s for Joshua. Translators render it as Joshua instead of Jesus because that is the name readers will be familiar with. Likewise, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament often abbreviated LXX) uses Ἰησοῦ/s (Greek grammar rules specify that the final sigma appears depending on the case of the noun).

That "Joshua" transliterates as "Jesu"s is easy to see when you examine the respective alphabets (Hebrew, Greek).

J - the Hebrew yod becomes the Greek Iota

E - the same sound is found in both

H - Greek has no stand alone letter for H, so they had to drop this letter.

O - Without an H to connect to, the O disappears. Combining the e and o would produce an unnatural sound in Greek--they don't have that dipthong.

SH - the Hebrew shin (long e sound) is SH together and becomes a sigma (merely an S) as Greek does not have a letter for the SH sound.

U - equivalent sounds in both languages

A - Greek prefers not to end a name with a vowel sound, so they often (but not always) add a sigma.

The same differences with shin and a final vowel can be found in the Hebrew name Moshe, which we know better by the Greek Moses. You can also see such name changes in the Hebrew Shlomoh whom we know as Solomon. Greek does not have a equivalent for H so drops it, ending the name in a vowel (which they don't like), and adding an N.

Knowing these rules, and seeing how Joshua is rendered as Ἰησοῦ/s in the Septuagint and in the New Testament (and we know who it is where it is followed by "son of Nun") would be why scholars like Strong have linked them.

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In Hebrew the name Joshua is:

יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yehoshua or יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshua “the LORD is salvation.”

In Greek it is the transliteration of the Hebrew:

Ιησους (Iēsous, sounds like ee-ay-soos).

Therefore in the Greek New Testament Jesus and Joshua are both Iēsous.

Up until now the names are the same and even in the Latin Vulgate they remained the same. In Latin Iēsou was called lesus, again a transliteration of Joshua in Greek. The Latin spelling differed from the Greek because the two alphabets are not identical. The Latin pronunciation however was still very close to the Greek sounding like "ee-ay-soos".

When an English version of the name was created from the Latin, it was close to the Latin and was spelled Iesus. The 1611 King James Version uses Iesus. However the English language was evolving and any name starting with I or Y was replaced with a J so we finally arrived at the name Jesus.

Now the question one might ask is, 'Why was the English name Joshua taken from the original language but Jesus from the Latin?' There is no apparent answer other than possibly the publishers of the King James Bible decided it was good to keep the familiar Latin spelling for the name Jesus due to its common frequency, whereas since Joshua is not frequently found in the New Testament, a transliteration from original languages was preferred. It seems to have been some practical decision to translate Jesus from Latin, rather than a logical exegetical reason. Even more so today, now that everyone is familiar with the name 'Jesus' it seems best and practical by modern English translations to keep it and not confuse anybody with pedantic quibbling about the the exactness of the original sound.

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  • So, the "s" is at the end from the masculine nominative noun ending. Thanks fumanchu. That was a very helpful thing to point out!
    – user2027
    Feb 16, 2013 at 22:53
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They were the same in the ancient languages and even in modern languages until quite recently. Comparing the uses in Acts 7:45, Hebrews 4:8, and Matthew 10:5:

In the original Greek they're the same: Ἰησοῦς /jeisus/

In the Vulgate they're also the same: Jesus /jesus/

Interestingly, even Wycliffe and the KJV, among a few others, use Jesus in all instances.

So it would seem that differentiating them is a modern choice, presumably to avoid confusion since "Jesus" is taken to refer to one person only (despite the allusions his Hebrew name suggests!).

To my knowledge, this is done in most European languages (I was able to check German, French, and Spanish), though Wikipedia says that in Modern Greek and in Slavic languages they do still use the same name for both people and qualify Joshua with longer phrases.

Out of curiosity, I checked those passages in the 2009 Hebrew NT (Habrit-Hakhadasha / Haderekh), and even there they chose to distinguish them (יהושע yehoshua vs. ישוע yeshua).

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    "Jesus" remains a common name in some Latin-based languages today, such as Spanish.
    – user25930
    Jul 9, 2018 at 22:15
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I know that the other answers explain this in more depth, but the simple answer is really that the early Christians read the Greek Septuagint (LXX), and this translation of the Hebrew Tanakh and apocryphal works rendered יֵשׁוּעַ / יְהוֹשֻׁעַ as Ἰησοῦς. From there it was transliterated into Latin (Iesus) and became the name associated with the Christian Messiah in the West for over 1500 years. The transliteration into English as Jesus is really from the Latin.

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יהושע = Yehu is/will save while ישוע(ה) = salvation.

Some background: יהו can be in the begining or the end of a name to keep what written in Genesis 4 verse 26.

With יהו we can find אל. Example: יהושפט, יהורם, ישעיהו or Yehoshafat, Yehoram, Issaia(yaho) and etc.

And with אל examples: ישמעאל, אליהו or Ismail(written Ismael), Eliyahu.

So even if it original translated to Greek the same, in Hebrew it's not.

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1. Question Restatement:

Strong's equates the name "Jesus" with the Hebrew name "Joshua or Johoshua." On what basis does he do this?

Quick Answer: This was a standard convention, as seen in the Greek Septuagint Translation of Hebrew Scripture.


2. The Transliteration and Meaning of Jesus in Greek:

The name Jesus, ("Ἰησοῦς", Strong's Concordance), in Greek, doesn't hold any significance - and doesn't appear as a common Greek name, or word, in Greek Literature, (See Perseus Greek Word Search).

However: "Jesus / Ιησος" in the Greek is actually a very good transliteration of Jesus' name from the Hebrew/Aramaic "isho' / ܝܘܣܐ", (Luke 3:29).

Note 1: In ancient Hebrew, and Aramaic, Jesus' name ends with a "guttural stop" - not an "A".

Note 2: Adding the final sigma, "ς" is a Greco-Roman convention to indicate the Nominative case - and not part of the transliteration. (In English, "Jesu + s").


3. Basis to Transliterate Joshua and Jehoshua as "Jesus":

Jesus is actually a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic/Hebrew name "Joshua" which is actually a the transliteration of "יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ | Yehoshua".

It is often claimed the "Jesus" is a transliteration of "Yeshua | יֵשׁ֨וּעַ" - but even that name is considered an abbreviated/transliterated form of: "יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ | Yehoshua".

3.1. For Reference: "Jesus" in Greek:

NASB, Matthew 1:1 - The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Byz, Matthew 1:1 - βιβλος γενεσεως ιησου χριστου υιου δαυιδ υιου αβρααμ

3.2. Yeshua | ישוע is Derived from "Yehoshua", Which is Derived from "Hosea" :

Scripture explicitly states that "Yehoshua" is actually derived from the name, "Hosea | הוֹשֵׁ֫עַ", (Numbers 13:16) - which is derived from "יָשַׁע | he saves".

NASB, Numbers 13:16 - but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.

Septuagint, Numbers 13:16 - καὶ ἐπωνόμασεν Μωυσῆς τὸν Αυση υἱὸν Ναυη Ἰησοῦν

Hebrew, Numbers 13:16 - וַיִּקְרָ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה לְהֹושֵׁ֥עַ בִּן־ נ֖וּן יְהֹושֻֽׁעַ׃

3.3. "Yeshua" is an Abbreviated / Later Aramaic form of "Yehoshua" :

NKJV, Nehemiah 8:17, Hebrew - ... for since the days of "Joshua | יֵשׁ֨וּעַ", the son of Nun ... ("Ἰησοῦ", LXX, Esdras-Nehemiah 8:17).

"Yehoshua" was most probably shortened to "Yeshua", (removing "yah*") - during the Babylonian exile - plausibly in an effort to avoid misusing the name of God - a tradition that is observed to this day.

In Scripture, "Yeshua" does not appear as an Israeli name - until the Babylonian exile, (~597 b.c; see Occurrences of Yeshua as a name.)

3.4. More Examples of "Yeshua" and "Yehoshua" Transliterated as "Jesus":

NASB, Deuteronomy 3:21 - I commanded Joshua at that time, saying,

Hebrew, Deuteronomy 3:21 - וְאֶת־ יְהֹושׁ֣וּעַ צִוֵּ֔יתִי בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖וא לֵאמֹ֑ר

Septuagint, Deuteronomy 3:21 - καὶ τῷ Ἰησοῖ ἐνετειλάμην

Note: 2 Chronicles likely written after 540 B.C., Wikipedia.

WEB, 2 Chronicles 31:15 - Under him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua

Septuagint, 2 Chronicles 31:15 - διὰ χειρὸς Οδομ καὶ Βενιαμιν καὶ Ἰησοῦς

Hebrew, 2 Chronicles 31:15 - וְעַל־ יָדֹ֡ו עֵ֣דֶן וּ֠מִנְיָמִן וְיֵשׁ֨וּעַ וּֽשְׁמַֽעְיָ֜הוּ

3.5. Yeshua is NOT Directly Derived from the Hebrew, "יָשַׁע":

In Hebrew Scripture, "He save(s, ed, etc)" ... does not appear to be ever rendered as "Yeshua", (with the "vav | ו").

This appears to be an Aramaic convention.1

Different forms are used, from the root, "יָשַׁע", as: "מ֝וֹשִׁ֗יעַ" (Psalms 7:10), "הוֹשִׁ֥יעַ" (Psalms 18:41), etc. (See Other Occurrences of "יָשַׁע.)

And so it is invalid to suggest that "Yeshua" strictly means, "He saves" - as it would likely be rendered without the "וּ" - : "וַיֹּ֣שַׁע", (Job 5:15); "מ֝וֹשִׁ֗יעַ", (Psalms 7:10); etc.

"לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה | I will come to help", (2 Samuel 10:11), may be the closest.