Updated: Feb 8
It comes as a surprise, I know I was certainly shocked, to learn that the Book of James is really the Book of Jacob. I should have caught on sooner than I did, as I use the Scripture Research Institute 2009 version of the Bible. They have the book in English as James but Hebrew as Ya’aqob which is properly translated as Jacob. Where ever “James” is mentioned in the Brit Hadasha (New Testament), it is always rendered in Hebrew as Ya’aqob.
“Is this not the son of the carpenter? Is not His mother called Miryam? And His brothers Ya‛aqoḇ (Jacob) and Yosĕph (Joseph) and Shim‛on (Simeon) and Yehuḏah (Jude)?” (Matthew 13:55)
Jacob, the one who would become Israel, is spelled the same.
“And afterward his brother came out, with his hand holding on to Ěsaw’s heel, so his name was called Ya‛aqoḇ (Jacob). And Yitsḥaq (Isaac) was sixty years old when she bore them.” (Genesis 25:26)
So why is Jacob the brother of Yeshua inaccurately translated as James? It seems to start with John Wycliffe when he translated the New Testament in 1380. Wycliffe was an English philosopher/ theologian and one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. Some have speculated that the change in Jacob’s name was to create distance from the Christian Church and all things Hebraic. Something my website has covered quite a bit of in my “Torah Related” tab. Others have theorized that Jacob was translated to James to satisfy King James I, or at least he did not wish to fix the error, this King James also being the one who authorized the King James Bible. Either way, the mistranslation is actually acknowledged among top scholars in the Christian Church and Biblical Historians, yet there has been no push for correction, that I am aware of.
Discovering errors made in translations is always disheartening, for we want to have an infallible source to study Elohim’s Word. Man, however, is fallible and capable of making mistakes or even purposely making changes to push an agenda. From Yeshua, YHWH, and Jacob, what other names have been changed? Many may object and say it does not matter so long as we know who we are talking about, but names mean something in the context of the Bible.
“And the man called his wife’s name Ḥawwah (Eve), because she became the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)
“And no longer is your name called Aḇram, but your name shall be Aḇraham, because I shall make you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5)
“And Ya‛aqoḇ (Jacob) was left alone. And a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. And when He saw that He did not overcome him, He touched the socket of his hip. And the socket of Ya‛aqoḇ’s (Jacob’s) hip was dislocated as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I am not letting You go until You have blessed me!” So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Ya‛aqoḇ (Jacob).” And He said, “Your name is no longer called Ya‛aqoḇ (Jacob), but Yisra’ĕl (Israel), because you have striven with Elohim and with men, and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:24-28)
“These are the names of the men whom Mosheh (Moses) sent to spy out the land. And Mosheh called Hoshĕa (Hosea) the son of Nun, Yehoshua (Joshua).” (Numbers 13:16) Joshua means “YHWH is salvation” and it was Joshua who led the Hebrews into the promised land.
“And she shall give birth to a Son, and you shall call His Name יהושע for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Yeshua’s name means “salvation”.
These are but a few examples of names meaning something in scripture and I encourage everyone to research what every name in the Bible means. A translation is one thing, at least in this manner the meaning of the name can usually be preserved, however, this is lost when a name is completely changed. Continue to test all things, including this, and may the Ruach Hakodesh lead you into all truth.
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