Yod and Vav are the two smallest letters in the Hebrew alphabet. In Matt. 5:18 the text says For truly I say to you: until the sky and the earth would pass away, not one yod or one vav could pass away from the Torah, until everything would come to pass. Lk. 16:17 is similar but lists only the vav. We know that every Temple and synagogue service was in the Hebrew language from the earliest days in Israel all the way up to modern times. The Hebrew language was preserved because Scripture was in Hebrew and Hebrew was and still is the language of the synagogue. Y’shua would have used the Hebrew letter yod, which was recorded in Greek using the comparable Greek letter, iota. A number of modern English translations translate iota as yod.
The Hebrew letter vav has no comparable Greek letter since there is no “v” sound in Greek. Both Matthew and Luke overcame the problem with the Greek word keraia, which some say refers to decoration of the Torah manuscript, but it actually means little horn or little hook. The Hebrew word vav, the name of the letter, means hook, so this is how we know that Y’shua was speaking of the letter vav. It could not have referred to decoration because the Dead Sea Torah scrolls, dating from the days of Y’shua, show that scrolls of that era were not decorated. Besides being the two smallest letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the yod and the vav are also called soft letters because under some circumstances either letter can be left out of a word and the word would still be spelled correctly. So Y’shua was saying that even the letters that can properly be left out of a word would not be omitted from the Torah as long as the Earth exists. We need to learn more about the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
What Y’shua is saying when He says that not one Yod or one Vav will drop from the Torah is explained in the next two verses. Verse 19. Therefore, whoever would break one of the least of these commandments, and would teach people this way, will be called least in the Kingdom of the Heavens: but whoever would do the commandments and would teach them, will be called great in the Kingdom of the Heavens. 20. For I say to you that unless your righteousness would be present in abundance more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you could not enter the Kingdom of the Heavens. This is now a time when a teaching is going out saying that it is not necessary to repent because we have saved by grace. Being saved by grace is certainly true and is absolutely essential because not one person has earned salvation by being perfected. Since time immemorial only One perfect Being has walked the earth – Y’shua. The rest of us are still working at it, needing to walk in repentance every day, as Y’shua admonished in Matt. 4:17. Unrepented sin is not forgiven.
Yoke is mentioned by Y’shua; Come to Me all those who work and are burdened, and I shall give you rest. 29. You must immediately take My yoke upon you and you must now learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in My heart, and you will find rest in your lives: 30. for My yoke is pleasant and My burden is insignificant. (Matt. 11:28-30) A yoke is a heavy wooden frame for harnessing together a pair of oxen or other draft animals. The rabbis teach that the LORD’s* yoke means total commitment, total surrender to His perfect will for your life. All your idols must be destroyed – there can be no pride, no love for possessions, fame, sports, or any other thing that could interfere with His plan for your life. He will provide for all your needs. This does not necessitate a vow of poverty because He does take good care of His saints.
The yoke has other significance since it is made for two. For the vast majority of us that means a spouse fills the other side, but for some the LORD* is the spouse. What is significant about the yoke is that each animal must pull its own weight. Often in ministry one has had the pride to feel he or she could go it alone, that the spouse was the provider or the cheerleader, or some other non-involved position. In this metaphor Y’shua was saying that each couple is yoked, that if each is not pulling his own weight the ministry would not achieve all that could be done. We need to understand that God instituted marriage when He built Eve. He made her equal to Adam and adequate for any task assigned to Adam, based on the word translated Meet in Gen. 2:18, KJV. The NIV translates it Suitable, which is much closer to the Hebrew meaning. A couple is to act as one, but with each one carrying his load – they are not to be identical, but complementary.
The yoke can refer to any two joined together in any endeavor. As Paul told us not to be unequally yoked, referring to marriage with an unbeliever, so also any ministry or business yoking must be in line with God’s perfect will.
The yoke belongs to the owner of the oxen, not the oxen. Each animal must be in total submission to the driver’s will, obeying every command. If one animal is spirited and continually presses ahead it will wear itself out, but not go any faster than the mate. Its pressing will also tire the driver, who continually is pulling back on the reins. Obedience is the desired character.
The word for Rest in Matt. 11:28,29 means a temporary rest. It is a break, like a coffee break at work, or a brief respite from battle. Whenever possible, army units at the front are pulled back every few days so the soldiers can rest and clean up. They are not far from the battle, but are back far enough to get good food, sleep, clean their weapons, and prepare to go back to battle. This temporary rest is what Y’shua is talking about here. A different Greek word is used for the permanent rest in His kingdom, spoken about in Hebrews, Chapters 3, 4.
The yoke of the LORD* is pleasant. The word translated pleasant is used seven times in the New Testament and this is the only place the KJV translated it as easy. It is a word that always means something good and is sometimes used in talking about food. Pleasant is appropriate in this case regarding His yoke. We know from experience that doing His ministry may not always be easy, but it is pleasant. We are acquainted with missionaries who live under what anyone in the USA would consider difficult conditions, but they love where they are and they are uncomfortable in the US because of all the materialism and pleasure seeking.
There is a prayer, called the Sh’ma, said three times each day by observant Jewish people. This is from Deut. 6:4, Listen! Obey, O Israel! The LORD* is
our God! The LORD* is One! Then verses 5-9, plus Deut. 11:13-21 and
Num. 15:37-41 are recited. The rabbis refer to this as “acceptance of the yoke of heaven.”
The burden of the LORD* is so light it is insignificant. The Greek word translated light in Matt. 11:30 indicates the burden is so light that its weight cannot be detected. When the weight seems heavy it must mean that something is out of line, as when Y’shua told Paul he was kicking against the goad, the cattle prod. Paul had been busy with his ministry, not His ministry.
Y’shua is the English spelling of His Hebrew name. Jesus is the English spelling of the Latin Iesus. This spelling, like most if not all of the “J”s in the English Bibles, came into English from the German language. The German language pronounces the “J” as a “Y” which is why in German Y’shua would be pronounced the same as the Greek Iesous and Latin Iesus. English introduced the “J” sound we use. His Hebrew name was Y’shua, the Galilean pronunciation of Yeshu. The root word of Yeshu is Y-Sh-A, a verb meaning deliver from, or save. Since Greek has no “sh” sound, that was changed to s in Iesous. The final s in Greek is there for what is called the declension of the noun, and in the first use in the New Testament of the name Y’shua, in Matthew 1:1, Y’shua is spelled Iesou in Greek, as close as Greek can come to Yeshua. In the 1970’s a burial box was found in Jerusalem bearing the inscription “Jacob, son of Joseph, brother of Y’shua.” The burial box, made of stone, has been authenticated, reported in the Nov.-Dec. 2002 issue of Biblical Archeology Review, as the box that held the bones of Jacob, Y’shua’s half-brother. This is the first object known to refer directly to Y’shua.
Yeshu is very interesting because it was a common enough name that it has been found at several archaeological digs. The Hebrew root Y-Sh-A means to deliver from, save. The name Yeshua is used 20 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, eight in Ezra, eleven in Nehemiah, and once in 1 Chronicles. These referred to ten men, including several priests, Levites, a leader of Judah, plus one reference to Joshua, son of Nun in Neh. 8:17. Joshua was spelled Yehoshua except for this one time. There is a noun, Yeshuah, pronounced the same as His Galilean Yeshua, that is used about seventy-five times in the Hebrew text, and is translated Victories, Welfare, Health, Saving Health, Deliverance, Salvation, and is transliterated in New Testament Greek as Hosanna. Hosanna means Deliverance Now! Or, Salvation Now! The people were actually shouting “Yeshuah-na!” or “Hoshea-na!” from the same Hebrew root. The Na suffix is a demanding “Now” or “Please!” that could be rude to our Western minds. The meaning of Yeshuah is deliverance more than salvation and where hosanna is used in Matt. 21:9,15,
Mk. 11:9,10, and Jn. 12:13, as Y’shua rides the donkey into Jerusalem, the people were looking for deliverance from the Roman conquerors. They viewed Y’shua as the Messiah Who had come to sit on the throne in Jerusalem and restore Israel to full independence. That was also on the mind of each one who called Him “Son of David” as Bartimaeus did in Mk. 10:47. See Son of David/Son of Joseph elsewhere in Glossary.