by Rabbi Eved Banah
I got toed up somehow in an email that was sent to many Hebrew Roots teachers and Messianic teachers by a lady asking for clarity on the pentecostal ideal of "Does the name of Jesus (or Yeshua) have power?". Now sadly, most asked about this are a part of the sacred name movement and it is bewildering to me that many of them qualify in some circles as "teachers" when I was hearing things like "well as long as you say it right." Some were saying "no only the name of (insert variation of the 4 letter name of G-d) has power." And I felt bad that so many we just incredibly off the mark on this, so I was encouraged, after talking to the person one-on-one in a phone conversation on this to discuss this concept in this article based on language and idiomatic expression and objectivism, so let's light this candle:
First of all we need to think, "How would "The name of Jesus (or Yeshua)" be rendered in Hebrew? Would this be something that was said at the time? Or was this concept a later invention? Now we have to look all around the apple to find blemishes not just one side. Otherwise you will get really lost in this explanation. So if we were to say "Hashem Yeshua" we need to first look at the word שֵׁם in Hebrew which can translate literally to "name". Yet what does the word "name" mean in first century Israel and how does the word "name" have a different connotation in North Carolina in 2017? This is key.
In most Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons the word שֵׁם (in terms of the 1st Century) means "personality and character", which is different in 21st Century America when you ask someone "what is your name?" In english a "name" is just something to identify the physical person with an audible sound and for paperwork filing. In judaism however, a "name" (שֵׁם) is an attribute it is your character, this is why "names" in your Bible have significant meaning and show great attribute of a person. Take for instance the names of angels such as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael etc, they all define their attribute and their job. Notice the book of Shemos said Moses was name Moshe because he was drawn out of the water. This happens countless times in the Bible, and this is why Gabriel told Myriam "You shall name him יֵשׁוּעַ for he will save his people from their sins" because the word for "salvation" in Hebrew is יְשׁוּעָה which is the name יֵשׁוּעַ with a ה at the end. So this verifies the history books and theological books of Judaism as well as the Jewish dictionaries we have today, in terms of tis concept.
So what one can essentially be saying is "there is power in the characteristic and personality and encapsulation of Yeshua." This is absolutely correct, yes yes yes, in that sense there definitely is. Now, there is also issue with the way I would venture to say that many define it today, outside of jewish scholarship and study of ancient language. Many today see the phonetical sounds of the name יֵשׁוּעַ having power in terms of using it to make people fall in the floor or something. In many ways the pentecostals are siding with the theology of the sacred name movement in saying that phonetics has power, in the same way those in the occult think it does to conjure spirits of the dead or the forces they worship. We all remember the movie "The Exorcist" where latin liturgical prayer as well as relics were used to cast a demon out of Linda Blair's character, this fictional Hollywood movie has given us today a very distorted view on these matters as well as the theatrics we see on television today that are employed by a small group of popular teachers today. It is theatrics, that is all it is. How we could also turn my objection on it's head as well.
As a Kabbalist, we believe that sounds in Hebrew and the formation of letters and words do hold significance and power. We believe that Hashem created the entire world by speaking Lashon Kodesh. We believe there are "healing Psalms", when recited in Hebrew they can cause healing in the body. Because the Hebrew language causes vibrations that the english language doesn't when letters are combined. There is also the famous story of the Maharal bringing a golem to life by putting the word אֶמֶת on it's forehead and to kill the golem the אֶ was erased and it became the word מֶת meaning "death". So there is that other side of the equation.
So I would say, in one respect the Pentecostals are indeed correct, but in the realms of application they are incorrect. The talking point in proper context if we embody the hebrew word שֵׁם and understand the aspects of it then yes the "name" of Yeshua (or Jesus for that matter) does have power and amazing power. But it is not a G-d in the pocket kinda thing, or Holy Spirit on command kind of thing, it is much different.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism