HOME | ARTICLES | EMAIL the AUTHOR

Author: Yeremyah

The Mar-Yah Deception


When translating the Hebrew scriptures Jewish scribes have followed a long standing policy to not directly represent the Name of God but rather to substitute it with a foreign term that equates to lord or master. Certain voices1 in the Peshitta field of study have promoted a novel theory that the Aramaic term MRYA or מריא (märya), which means "the lord", is instead a direct representation of the personal Name of  יהוה (YHWH). This theory is a slight-of-hand trick, an illusion, used to support the erroneous doctrine that Yeshua and YHWH are one and the same being or person. Those not familiar with Aramaic grammar may be easily convinced that the Aramaic Peshitta supports this blasphemy. 

"Whenever, therefore, people are deceived and form opinions wide of the truth, it is clear that the error has slid into their minds through the medium of certain resemblances to that truth." - Socrates; Plato, Phaedrus, sct. 262.

Here is how the trick works.

YHWH is written as יהוה in Hebrew and sometimes in a short form Yäh יה (yud-heh) appearing in places like Tehillim (Psalms) 68:5 or as part of a compound Hebrew name like ירמיה (Yërëmyäh). On the other hand, märya is spelled מריא and not מריה. The first step is to simply capitalize and misspell märya as "MärYäh" or "Mär-Yäh". The idea, by this creative transliteration, is to make a visual association with the Hebrew form Yäh - which does not even exist in Aramaic. To further solidify the connection, a misspelling of the name Yeshua as Yäh-shua is sometimes supplied. The title Mär (lord) is an Aramaic convention that would not come into use until the 4th or 5th century. When it is employed, the title is not conjoined with the person's name, e.g. Mar Jonathan vs Marjonathan.  Misplacing it in the first century anachronistically helps along a deficient theory. So they borrow some Hebrew from the past and some Aramaic from the future, and assemble it into a grammatic monster, *zap* it with some high-voltage and, "It's alive!"


While it is true that the Name of YHWH is sometimes represented in Aramaic by the -ya יא (yud-alap) declension in a personal name like Æram-ya (Jeremiah) it does not signify that every word ending in -ya is attempting to represent the Name of YHWH in abbreviated form. In the term Nätzräya for example, the -ya is merely a plural ending for Nätzär. In märya it indicates an emphatic form. Any similarity between -ya for these forms and -ya signifying YHWH is purely coincidental, and certain Christians are taking advantage of this coincidence to promote or preserve a homoosian doctrine against the currents of a movement which is seeking out the original Jewish theology of Rabbi Yeshua Natzraya the messiah.

A Theological Disaster

No matter what one's belief may be, it is doubtful that it prescribes YHWH having been made, but rather that He is none other than the Creator. So it must be painful to have to explain how someone made the YHWH we know and love - that is if märya really does mean "Lord Yah". Consider what the disciple Shimon taught.

"Now certainly all of the House of Israel should know that God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, into מריא and the anointed one."  - Acts 2:36

Are Rules meant to be broken?

The only discernible rule these MäR-YäH advocates seem to operate by is that all masculine singular nouns ending with -ya are  abbreviated representations of the Name of YHWH. They figure that mar + ya = "Lord Yahweh". Let's see how this hermeneutic plays out with other Aramaic words sporting the -ya ending.

chuya ► chu-Yah = the serpent Yhwh ?surya ► asur-Yah = the bondage of Yhwh ?
sh'gushya ► sh'gush-Yah = the riotous Yhwh ?talya ► tal-Yah = the servant Yhwh ?
shatya ► shat-Yah = the fool Yhwh ?chataya ► chata-Yah = the sinner Yhwh ?
shnaya ► shna-Yah = the madness of Yhwh ?rawaya ► rawa-Yah = the drunkard Yhwh ?
shpaya ► shpa-Yah = the thorn Yhwh ?shabya ► shab-Yah = the captive Yhwh ?
alya ► al-Yah = the wail of Yhwh ?bedyah ► bed-Yah = the babbling Yhwh ?

Will these "scholars" consistently apply their hermeneutic and insist that -ya should be interpreted in such a way like the above examples? The point is to show that one can not simply take a word with the -ya suffix and presume that it represents the personal Name of God, no matter how convenient it may be to one's personal theology. The only way that we can set these terms apart from those that do represent YHWH, is according to the context. Only the context can tell us if these are possibly referring to YHWH or not, since grammar and form itself is no certain indication.

Yoohoo Over Here!

When the mad linguists and folk etymologists want to show you incarnations of YHWH as MRYH or מריה in the text of the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) they only offer examples of MRYA or מריא. Yeshua is never actually referred to as MRYH or מריה in the scriptures.  But if anyone is looking for actual examples of MRYH or מריה in the text they need to look no further than the following passage.


"And it came to be that while we were on our way to the House of Prayer we encountered a certain girl who had a spirit of divination, and she made great profits for מריה  by the predictions she was prognosticating." - Acts 16:16

Later in the account מריה has the apostles arrested and thrown in prison for preaching unauthorized religion.
 

Märya the Emphatic Noun

If Yäh was an integral part of märya then it would appear in its other forms such are märhoun, märan, märy, etc. yet it does not. We do not see the forms märYähoun, märYähan, or märYähi, etc. This is because MRYA, not MRYH, is the lexeme (base word) for all of these forms of "lord". Märya is the emphatic state of the noun, which means "the lord".  In fact, no lexicon gives "Yäh" or "YHWH" as having any part of the meaning of märya as those who are in error claim. That assertion is something invented by amateurs who desperately want to assert their personal and heretical belief that Yeshua, the created man, is YHWH the Creator, either in essence or person or both.


Märya the Lexeme

A root word is the most primitive and basic element in a family of words. A root can produce one or more lexemes. A lexeme is the original or orthodox form of a word which can be modified to produce other forms called morphemes

root

lexeme

morphemes

aud

audible

audibility, inaudibility, audibleness

audit

audience, auditory, auditorium, audition

The same system manifests in Aramaic where morphemes may also express such things as tense and person.

root

lexeme

morphemes

mara (lord, master, owner)

marya (the lord)

maran (our lord), mareh (his lord) 

Märya is the Aramaic lexeme for all forms of "lord" in Aramaic. So how can the Name of YHWH be the lexeme for any and all "lords" termporal and otherwise? The reason märya remains unchanged in form when referring to YHWH is because it is by default in the emphatic state "the Lord". This confers the greatest possible sense of reverence and is the only grammatic form suitable for substituting the tetragrammaton (the four letter Name - YHWH). The reason YHWH is not substituted with other forms such as märan "our Lord" or märëh "his Lord" is because that implies a name substitution for awkward if not heretical concepts expressed through "our YHWH" and "his YHWH" etc., which are absent from Hebrew literature.

Breaking it all down.

MRYA
From the root MRA meaning "to be strong".Weak nouns (nouns ending with a vowel, e.g. alap) have the vowel changed to yod to indicate a plural form.Alap serves to form a morpheme indicating the emphatic or plural state.
"Dialect Geography of Syria Palestine" pg. 97, by W. Randall Garr

If -ya was an essential part of the lexeme required to express the eternal Name YHWH, then it certainly would be incorporated into every morpheme based on that lexeme - but instead it just disappears. It should also not appear in the morphemes of other Aramaic lexemes i.e. tälya. And if -ya is a digrammaton (a two letter Name derived from YHWH) for the Name of God, it should never appear in terms referring to humans. As you will see in the examples provided in the chart below Aramaic morphemes follow a very predictable and common pattern and in no way is märya a special exception.


LORDrootlexemeinflected formrootlexemeinflected formSERVANT
the lordMaRAMaRYAMaRYATaLYATaLYATaLYAthe servant
the lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaYATaLYATaLYATaLaYAthe servants
lordMaRAMaRYAMaReATaLYATaLYATaLeAservant
lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaYTaLYATaLYATaLaYservants
lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaWaNTaLYATaLYATaLeYNservants
our lordMaRAMaRYAMaRaNTaLYATaLYATaLYaNour servant
his lordMaRAMaRYAMaReHTaLYATaLYATaLYeHhis servant
his lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaWHYTaLYATaLYATaLYWHYhis servants
her lordMaRAMaRYAMaRaHTaLYATaLYATaLYaHher servant
her lordsMaRAMaRYAMaReYHTaLYATaLYATaLeYHher servants
their lordMaRAMaRYAMaRHWNTaLYATaLYATaLYHWNtheir servant
their lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaYHWNTaLYATaLYATaLaYHWNtheir servants
my lordMaRAMaRYAMaRYTaLYATaLYATaLYYmy servant
my lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaYTaLYATaLYATaLaYmy servants
(sing.) your lord MaRAMaRYAMaRaKTaLYATaLYATaLYaK(sing.) your servant
(sing.) your lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaKYTaLYATaLYATaLYaKY(sing.) your servants
(plur.) your lordMaRAMaRYAMaRKWNTaLYATaLYATaLYKWN(plur.) your servant
(plur.) your lordsMaRAMaRYAMaRaYKWNTaLYATaLYATaLaYKWN(plur.) your servants



What do the top experts say?

The world's foremost authorities on Aramaic grammar, Sebastian Brock (Oxford, Cambridge) and Wheeler M. Thackston Jr.2 (Harvard) confirm that märya does not contain an abbreviation for the tetragrammaton (YHWH). It is simply the emphatic form meaning "the master", "the owner" or "the lord".

"Although I think I have seen this somewhere as a popular [folk] etymology, I am afraid that from the point of view of Semitic philology it will not work. Marya is the emphatic form of mr' (the earlier form in Aramaic would be mr'', which has become mry' in Syriac), and mr' is attested in earlier Aramaic in many pre-Christian and non-Jewish inscriptions (many are cited in J.Hoftijzer and K. Jongeling, Dictionary of Northwest Semitic Inscriptions (1995), II, pp.682-9). (In the Aramaic of Daniel eg 4:16 there is a 1st person sing. suffixed example, mr'y (= mr'+y) which in Syriac would appear as mry (= mr+y)" - Sebastian Brock of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford

[Note: Daniel 4:16 in the Peshitta corresponds to Daniel 4:19 in the Masoretic text.]

No Aramaic lexicon advocates that märya contains any portion of the Name of YHWH. They do however state that märya is substitute title used to replace the Name YHWH. They also will state that it is used as a title for Yeshua. Interestingly, most of the Aramaic lexicons are written by Christians, and even they have had the sensibility to not attempt to claim that märya incorporates the personal name of God - for to do so would be a quick path to academic suicide.

Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament (Peshitta) - William Jennings, M.A. pg. 130-131


A Compendious Syriac Dictionary - J. Payne Smith, pg. 298

The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon - Dr. Stephen A. Kaufman

The Dukhrana Lexicon - based upon Syriac Electronic Data Retrieval Archive (SEDRA) by Dr. George A. Kiraz


A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli & Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature - Marcus Jastrow

which directs us to...

which directs us to...

Subversion from Within!

Even though some of the strongest advocates behind this new doctrine are fluent Aramaic speaking members of the Church of the East, authorities and Aramaic language experts within the church do not offer any support for märya containing the Name of YHWH. In 1943 Dr. Alexander Joseph Oraham, a member of a family which provided 28 bishops, numerous scholars and doctors of the church, published a dictionary of Aramaic reflecting the long standing interpretation and doctrines of the Church of the East. It would have been scholastically negligent to omit the fantastic doctrine that one of the title's of messiah identified him as the one and only YHWH, Creator of the Universe. Rather it presents märya as a shared title.

Oraham’s Dictionary of the Stabilized and Enriched Assyrian Language - Alexander Joseph Oraham, p. 314

 (mur-yaa)  The Lord, an appellation signifying Jesus; Jehovah.”

 
Note carefully that his translation is "The Lord" not "Master Yäh" nor "Lord Yäh" and that it could signify either "Jesus" (Yeshua) or "Jehovah" (YHWH). Simply put, two different beings, one human one not, shared the very same title. Oraham offers absolutely no support to the idea that
märya contains the sacred digrammaton YäH or YA. Even if it did, would a name that contained the sacred digrammaton declension, such as say Yërëm-yäh, indicate that such a person is YHWH? God forbid!


Another Christian member from the Church of the East hosts an online version of an Aramaic lexicon at peshitta.org which offers absolutely no support for MäR-YäH propagandists - even though the host is one.

The Aramaic Lexicon and Concordance - The Way International, #12407


EPIC FAILURES
Arahamic Faith Nazarene Hebraic Studies Bible
AENT - Aramaic English New TestamentThe Aramaic-English Interlinear
New Testament
Restoration Scriptures True Name EditionAbrahamic Faith Nazarene Hebraic Studies Bible

Unfortunately this error has found its way into several so-called translations purporting to be most accurate. Don't waste your hard earned money on these anti-Jewish misrepresentations of our scriptures which will only weaken and undermine your faith with false doctrines setting you back and causing you to stumble on your spiritual journey.

The Art of Substitution

In the Hebrew scriptures the tetragrammaton is annotated with the vowels for the Hebrew adonai (the lord) so that the very special Name of God is not carelessly pronounced before the heathen. When the Tanak was translated into Greek, the term kurios (the lord) was chosen to substitute YHWH rather than transliterate it as ΙΗΥΗ (iota-eta-upsilon-eta). The same system was applied to Aramaic where the substitute term chosen was märya (the lord). 

It is well acknowledged that these terms of lordship like adonai, kurios or marya can and do refer to men, angels, and other gods besides YHWH. It is not an exclusive reference to YHWH just because it is used as a substitute for His Name - which itself is exclusive. 

The reasoning behind this practice was because the Name of YHWH was considered to be so very special and it was not used lightly, nor was it offered to heathens so that they might curse the Name offend YHWH and Jews alike, nor could they use it to curse Jews or bless themselves. Since transliterating it into a heathen language would make it easily accessible to heathens for misuse, substitute terms were chosen in its place that typically conveyed the meaning of "lord" or "master".

Now if the substitute terms incorporated the very name they were meant to replace then the whole purpose of the scheme would be defeated. It would be senseless to use "Yäh", a short form of Yahweh or YHWH to replace itself. This is why you will never find Mär-Yäh "the lord is Yäh" anywhere in the Peshitta as it shouts out the secret and defeats the whole purpose. One can not hide behind himself, nor substitute himself with himself.

A suitable surrogate word would not undermine its own purpose by directly representing the word, in whole or in part, that it is supposed to substitute. By this method one could potentially argue that -io- in kurios is equivalent to the Jo- in Jochanan, another digrammaton form for YHWH. But this wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of Greek linguists. Likewise, the Mär-Yäh3 proposition does not stand up to the scrutiny of Aramaic linguists.


Paradigms

Someone may ask, why in the Peshitta Tanak does märya only refer to YHWH and is not applied to anyone else? Setting aside for the moment that märya "the lord" is a a substitute for a Name, and presuming that the Tanak does not in fact contain any instances of märya referring to humans, this can best be explained by the Tanak paradigm. In this paradigm the central phenomena is YHWH and the books are written by His servants, His people. Therefore what if any opportunities are there to frame the testimony around another "lord" as "the lord"? The introduction of the messianic paradigm in the scriptures creates an additional central focus allowing the opportunity for his disciples to express his supreme lordship which was given from YHWH. Now both he and YHWH are the central phenomena of the New Testament and there is no opportunity to speak of another "the lord" as Paul said there are many gods and many lords, but for us there is one God (YHWH) and one Lord (Yeshua). Outside of working as a substitute for YHWH's Name, märya rarely if ever is used to address YHWH in the scriptures.

Pseudo scholarship can often suffer from deductive logical fallacies. For example if someone deduces that all humans have noses, then everything with a nose must be a human - that is a deductive logical fallacy. It is noted that märya is reserved in the Tanak for YHWH. But in the Brit Hadasha, messiah is exclusive to Yeshua. Does that mean all references to messiahs in the Tanak actually referring to Yeshua? If not, then why assume that all incidences of märya everywhere, are references to YHWH?


New Theologies are Self-Disqualifying

The fact that this is very new translation theory which does not appear to have been heard of or recorded anywhere before this century, reveals that it was not entertained by the Jewish or Natzari community previously nor currently. How could a term be used for thousands of years among Jews and Aramaic speakers and it never occurred to anyone before, that it incorporated the ineffable Name? Why now, and why is it coming from non-Jews with unorthodox theology and not from the Jewish community? One of the first fluently Aramaic Christians to translate the Peshitta into English was Dr. George Lamsa, and even he did not propose such an idea. He maintained a distinction for his readers between "lord" and "LORD" depending whether märya was being used in the ordinary sense or as a substitute for the Name of YHWH. These sensibilities are being rashly abandoned and abhorred by a new generation of non-Jewish scholars, poorly grounded in the fundamentals of the Torah and the Aramaic language, who appear eager to destroy thousands of years of understanding in order to promote a foreign theology. Simply put, it is too late to introduce radical new theories about the substance or person of God or His messiah in contradiction to those which have been solidly established for thousands of years. It was too late in 325 c.e. and it is too late today. New theologies are by nature false theologies since true theology was established long ago. Theology that does not resonate with orthodox Judaism is false theology.

"You [non-Jews] worship that which you do not understand, but we [Jews] worship what we understand, for salvation is from the Jews." - Yuhanan (John) 4:22


1. Known advocates; Andrew Gabriel Roth, Glen David Bauscher, Moshe Koniuchowsky, James Trimm, MattithYah Coover

2. "Introduction to Syriac" by Wheeler Thackston (Ibex Publishers, 1999), p.55 "  marya  "the Lord"


3. Märyäh. This form is used once in the Talmud (Sukkah 32b) "may his Lord forgive" According to Yitzhak Frank's 'Grammar for Gemara and Targum Onkelos' the -yh suffix indicates the masculine singular possessive form (his/its).