Why did Jesus have to be named 'Jesus'?

Luke 1:31 (As read for the feast of the immaculate conception)

"Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

  1. Was ‘Jesus’ a proper name for boys in those days? I doubt that it was, given the meaning…

  2. Why was that particular name assigned beforehand? Was it the custom for only the father to pick the name of the children?

  3. If the name ‘Jesus’ was not a proper name…how was the word used back then? Thanks

It’s “Yeshua”, which is also translated Joshua.

Joshua took over from Moses.

Jesus took over from the Mosaic Law.

Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land.

Jesus opened the door of heaven.

Moses died.

The Old Covenant ended. (Bet I get some comments one that!)


View bible passage at veritasbible.com

Yeshua was a very popular name in Palestind during the first century A.D.

Jesus means God Saves or The salvation of God. So when the angel told Mary to name Him Jesus he (the angel) was making a statement that in Jesus God was fulfilling the promises outlined in the Old Testement about His plan of salvation.

Only the father would name the child. Indeed the same happens with John the Baptist: people are actually complaining that John was not a family name, and the father had to write down very clearly that his name would be John in order to end the argument.

I do not know why, but ultimately it is because the name pleased the Father :smiley: Many names (actually, all names) had a special meaning, however in Christ the name was truly exalted because it literally embodied who He was: God who saves. The prophets had received several names for the Christ (ex. Immanuel, “God with us”, as we often sing during Advent) but the actual name would only be revealed on His coming :slight_smile:

Jesus is the Greek form of Yeshua or Joshua. The New Testament was written in Greek so He has been known as Jesus ever since.

On the contrary, the name Yēšūă‘ (a variant of Yehōšu‘a = ‘Joshua’) was pretty common.

Rachel Hachlili has estimated, after examining inscriptions from across early Roman Palestine, that the rate of occurrence for the name Yēšūă‘ at 9% of the total of Jewish male names in this region and period (the rate of Yôsēp̄ = ‘Joseph’ meanwhile is 14%). Tal Ilan’s lexicon of Second Temple period names on inscriptions in Palestine (Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, 2002) includes 85 examples of Hebrew Yēšūă‘, 15 of Yehōšu‘a, and 48 examples of Iēsous (with one variant Iesoua).

Within the New Testament itself we actually encounter people other than Jesus of Nazareth who are also named Iēsous. Some manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel identify Barabbas as “Jesus Barabbas” ((Yeshua son of Abba’; cf. Matthew 27:16-17); the patronymic of the Jewish magician Elymas (Bar-Jesus cf. Acts 13:6-12) identifies him as the son of a certain Yeshua also.

In the Old Testament, you obviously have Joshua (Yehōšu‘a) son of Nun (who is also identified as Yēšūă‘ in Nehemiah 8:17), Joshua of Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:14, 18), Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:8), as well as the high priest Joshua/Jeshua son of Jozadak (Zechariah 3:6-11; Ezra 3:2, 8-10; 5:2; 10:18; Haggai 1:1-2, 12-15; 2:2-5), Jeshua the son of Kadmiel (Nehemiah 12:24), and Jesus son of Sirach (Yeshua ben Sira). All in all, the name Yēšūă‘ appears in Ezra 2:2, 6, 36, 40; 3:2, 8-10, 18; 4:3; 5:2; 8:33; Nehemiah 3:19; 7:7, 11, 39, 43; 8:7, 17; 9:4-5; 11:26; 12:1; 12:7-8, 10, 24, 26; 1 Chronicles 24:11; and 2 Chronicles 31:15.

Turning over to the Jewish historian Josephus, we find more people who bore either the name Yēšūă‘ or Yehōšu‘a. All in all, he refers to at least twenty or twenty-one different people with the name. Some of them are:

Jesus son of Damneus: (Antiquities 20.203) The high priest appointed after the previous high priest, Ananus son of Ananus, was removed from his position for (illegally) executing James “the brother of Jesus called Christ” around AD 63.

Jesus son of Gamaliel / Gamalas: (Antiquities 20.213-223; War 4.160; Life 204-205) Successor to Jesus son of Damneus to the high priesthood (reigned AD 63-4); a protégé of Ananus son of Ananus and personal friend of Josephus. Some consider Jesus son of Gamaliel and Jesus son of Gamalas to be actually two distinct personages.

Jesus son of Ananias: (War 6.288-309) A prophet who went around Jerusalem prophesying the city’s destruction four years before the Jewish War against Rome began in AD 66. Was arrested by Jewish authorities, who turned him over to the Romans, who eventually set him free as a madman after torturing him. Eventually killed by a stone from a catapult during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

Jesus son of Sapphias: (Life 66-88, 134, 278-9, 294-5) The chief magistrate of the city council of Tiberias, founder of a seditious band of mariners, and Josephus’ bitter enemy. When the young Josephus convinced the not-so-enthusiastic council and leading men of Tiberias to demolish the Tiberian palace of Herod Antipas, filled as it was with graven images, it was Jesus son of Sapphias who beat them to it by setting the palace on fire. The same also set himself up as a spokesman for the revolutionary party and Josephus’ opponents, who cast doubt on the latter’s revolutionary commitment.

Jesus (aka Jason) son of Simon, brother of Onias: (Antiquities 12.238-40; 15.41; cf. 2 Maccabees 4:7-11, 23-6; 5:5-10) High priest (175-172 BC) under Antiochus Epiphanes.

Jesus son of Thebuthi: (War 6.387-9) A priest who handed the Temple treasure to Titus.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.