Why Jah? (why that word)

Today’s post is -NOT- about Second Life, but about how Rastafarians refer to the most high; Jah.

This is no scholarly article, just my insights. In fact this is pretty far from scholarly. :p

You will often see Western Christians make judgmental statements such as “there is only one God and his name is God, there is only one Christ and his name is Jesus.”

– As if English was the language of the Bible.

It wasn’t. “Jesus” didn’t grow up in Jersey, he came from Galilee.

Both of these words are translations. One of them is even a pagan word.

Yet I have lost count of the many times that I have heard people accuse Rastafarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses of not being followers of the faith because we (the both of us), use the words ‘Jah’ and ‘Yeshua’ rather than the modern western-Christian English words.

Look up the etymology of the word god. It refers to pagan germanic dieties. Think about that when you use that word.

So why Jah? Why do Rastafarians (and often Jehovah’s Witnesses as well) use the word Jah?

In short, its the Hebrew word – somewhat. The etymology entry is rather brief. Wikipedia will give you a bit more information.

The spelling started with a ‘Y’ instead of ‘J’ – with the Hebrew Bible using ‘J’ some 50 times. The Hebrew letter for ‘J’ being only about 500 years old. But that doesn’t mean that, lacking a letter for ‘J’, we can just toss in any old word…

‘J’ or ‘Y’, there is importance to this word. Its tradition, its in there in that book, and it pops up over and over again for a reason. We don’t call the Lord ‘Thor’ or ‘Zeus’, or ‘Mars’ for a -reason-. We probably shouldn’t be using the title of those guys either.


As to the other comment, ‘Jesus’ – this is an improper translation. It should be Yeshua. This is not as bad as the above example. The goal here was to say ‘Yeshua’, and in old enough versions of English, you would pronounce ‘Jesus’ somewhat closer to the ‘Yeh-Shu-Ah’ that it is supposed to sound like.

Wikipedia’s entry on Yeshua is not very illuminating.
– Just has a tiny note at the top and a link to a page that only refers to him by the English name save for in footnotes.

This is more insightful:
http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php
(if that URL offends you because you don’t think he was actually from Israel but from Liverpool or Brooklyn or something… just read the article anyway please…)
Various Wikipedia articles on Jesus cover the name transliteration history. But they quickly then go back to the English word.

The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek transliteration, that over time has lost its proper pronunciation as the English language went through significant changes in the last 2000 years at the hands of illiterate people, who, on finding Bibles and learning to reading – had to guess based on the language they spoke at what their forebears had written.

Yeshua though, is a very specific word with a very particular meaning in Hebrew:
Salvation from the Lord.

While it was not a unique name, despite that meaning… perhaps its important that we pay some respect to Christ having been given that name rather than say “Frank” or “Bubba”.

Someone might have been trying to get a bit of a message across in using that name…

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