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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names

Peter

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)

Peter’s original name, according to the Greek text is Simon son of Jonah (John 21:15). However, being a Jew, his Hebrew name would have been שמעון בן יונה (shimon ben yonah). The name שמעון (shimon, Strong's #559) means "heard." In Mark 3:16 we are told that Yeshua (Jesus) gives Shimon the name Peter (Petros in Greek), a Greek name that has no equivalency in Hebrew. However, in John 1:42 we are told that his new name is, according to the Greek, Kephas (Cephas), not Petros (Peter). Kephas is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name כאפא (Kepha, pronounced kee-phah) meaning "stone."

And I tell you, that you are Kepha, and upon this rock (kepha) I will build my assembly. (Matthew 16:18 from the Peshitta, a 4th Century Aramaic New Testament)




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