Let’s talk about the amazing woman who gave birth to the Messiah.
All your life, you were probably told that the mother of Jesus was a woman named Mary. Millions of others actually call her Maria. Why is this significant? It’s important because these names make the mother of Yeshua sound English as in Mary or Italian as in Maria, when of course, she was neither. In fact, some actually think she was catholic!
That would have been difficult, as she was born in Israel several hundred years before there ever was such a thing as the Roman Catholic Church. No one ever worshipped her in the first century or referred to her as the mother of God.
Sadly, people have turned her into an idol in which to pray. We see no such teaching in the New Testament. She was just a woman, a very blessed one, but nothing more. The Father never intended that people would build statues of her or idolize her. We are called to worship God alone. When John, in the book of Revelation, sought to worship an angel, he was rebuked.
And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation22:8-9)
And what’s worse is that the very people who claim to adore her, this Jewish woman, became the primary oppressors of the Jewish people. They pray that she will intercede for them, and at the same time, they have persecuted and killed her descendants from the time of Constantine to present day. Yes, in 2016, in the United States, at a basketball game, Catholic youth shouted and chanted toward the Jewish fans of their opponent, You Killed Jesus, You Killed Jesus.
But Mary was an Israelite, a Hebrew, a Jew, and her name was actually Miriam, a Jewish name—the same name as the sister of Moses. So why is her name printed as Mary in the English New Testament, but the sister of Moses is Miriam?
The answer is simple, and it is not as sinister as you may think, although it still confuses the identity of Yeshua’s earthly mother. The New Covenant was written in Greek, so her name had already been Hellenized—that is, conformed to Greek culture. Even in the original text, they wrote the Greek equivalent of her name rather than her actual name. And the English transliteration of the Greek form of Miriam is Mary or Maria. Whereas when the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into English, there was no Greek influence. Thus, Moses’s sister remained Miriam.
One more thing—while it is correct to say that Miriam was not divine, let’s not sell her short. She was chosen for a reason. She was a humble, loving, God-fearing servant of the Lord. She has taken her place next to Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel in the Kingdom of Heaven. She is a very special woman and should have been an example to young Jewish girls throughout the centuries, but like Yeshua, her identity was greatly altered, even hijacked.
Another myth about Marry is that she had no other children. We see very clearly that Yeshua had brothers and sisters.
Matthew 13:55-56 states:
“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Miriam, and His brothers Jacob and Joseph and Simon and Judah? And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?”
The main point here is this—not to haggle over names or words—but to restore the Jewish flavor to the gospel. If Jewish people stumble at the idea of a crucified Messiah—there is nothing I can do—but God forbid they stumble because we have not correctly communicated the gospel in its Hebraic context.