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Did Yeshua really say “jot”?

Yeshua said, “Not one jot shall pass from the law.” (King James Version)

The above words are from Matthew 5:18. It is a good example of verses that people “religiously” without having a clue for what they just read means – and they will claim that the thing they are clueless about is the inerrant and infallible word of God!

What is a “jot?” Let’s begin by making sure one thing clear is very clear – Yeshua never uttered the word “jot.” It was the King James translators that came up with that.

Here is what Yeshua said, “Not one Yod shall pass from the Torah.”


Yod” is the English transliteration of the Hebrew name of the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet (see below). 


Next is a graphic that explains how the Hebrew word was transliterated into English.


Follow the numbers from 1 to 3 beginning on the right. So, how did “Yod” become “jot”? The word "jot" itself comes from the name "iota," which is the 9th letter of the Greek alphabet.


Iota is also the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. The Greek name “iota” came into English via Latin and was Anglicized as “jot.” 

Notice that Yeshua used the word “Torah,” while the King James translators selected the word “law.” The Torah had a very special meaning for Yeshua. Torah is the name of the Hebrew scroll that contains the books we call Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

So what did Yeshua’s words mean to the ancient Jewish audience that heard them?

Not even one of the smallest letters of the Hebrew alphabet shall be removed from the words in the books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy.”

Keep in mind that Yeshua had been accused of coming to destroy the law, according to many Christians. Yeshua clearly had no intention of doing away with or replacing the Jewish Scriptures with something else. Now let’s see how other translators handled this verse:

(1) New International Version – “Not the smallest letter will by any means disappear from the Law.

(2) Bible in Basic English – “Not the smallest letter will in any way be taken from the law.”

(3) Darby’s English Translation – “One iota shall in no wise pass from the law.” 

(4) World English Bible – “Not even one smallest letter shall in any way pass away from the law.”

For Yeshua, the words of the Torah were extremely important to him. They were so important that he said that as long as the heavens and the earth remained not even the smallest letter in the Torah would be removed from it.

What do you think Yeshua would think of people who claimed that he came to do away with the law? He would know that those people obviously didn’t understand his message and clearly were not his followers. That would probably come as a very big surprise to many.

Shalom,
Jim Myers

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