Topics Definition of Hebrew Names
By Jeff A. Benner
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (ASV, Matthew 10:2)
And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: (Mark 3:17)
James is identified as the son of Zebedee, a Hebrew name, זבדי (zav’di, Strong's #2067), meaning "my gift." James is the brother John, both of whom are called, in the Greek, Boanerges, which in Hebrew is בני רגז (beney regaz). This is the word בן (ben, Strong's #1121) meaning "son" (but written in the plural form – sons) and רגז (regaz, Strong's #7266) meaning "rage" – sons of rage.
In the New Testament Greek text the name James is written as Iakobos, a transliteration of the Hebrew name יעקב (ya’akov, Strong's #3290). This name is the verb עקב (Ah.Q.B, Strong's #6117) meaning "to grab the heel," and the prefix י (yud) meaning "he" – he grabs the heel.
The Hebrew name Ya’aqov in the Tanach (Old Testament) is Latinized as Jacob. Because the Greek Iakobos is a transliteration of the Hebrew Ya’akov, his name in the New Testament English translations should be Jacob, not James.
I would like to point out a common myth about this name. It has been suggested that the name "James" was introduced for "Jacob" in the King James Version of the Bible because King James told the translators that he wanted his name in the Bible, so they exchanged Jacob for James. This is a myth, as James is used in the Geneva Bible which predates the King James Version.
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