I have often heard Jews refer to Jesus as "Yoshke". Is the origin of that appellation based on halachic issues regarding mentioning names of foreign deities, or some other Jewish law or custom? When was its first recorded use?

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    I wonder if it's related to Acher, who wasn't considered a deity by anyone but who tradition doesn't want to name anyway. Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 15:21
  • Acher got his name from a story which involved him.
    – sam
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 18:54
  • Actually, @sam, it's probably more likely that the story was invented to explain the name. There are dozens of possible explanations as to why somebody would refer (in the third person) to another person so dismissively, but the odds that it all goes back to what a single woman said to him when the two were in a field is quite unlikely.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 2:27
  • Its a Yerushalmi in Chagigah,so not sure what you are saying.
    – sam
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 2:48
  • @sam - No it isn't, it's in the Bavli (Hagigah 15a). The corresponding section in the Yerushalmi (Hagigah 77b-c, 2.1) says nothing at all about how he got his name. It was the story in the Bavli to which I was referring: the one with the prostitute in the field, who knows that he is Elisha ben Abuya but who refers to him as "somebody else". That story is just that. A story. Invented to explain why he was called Acher in the Mishna, but not the actual reason for his having been called that. The actual reason is simply the Mishna's dismissiveness of him.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 23:41

2 Answers 2


Yoshke is simply a Yiddish diminutive nickname for Yehoshua (Joshua, for which a parallel English nickname would be Josh). Thus, it was simply a way for European Jews to make reference to Jesus in a manner that (a) conveyed the idea that Jesus was not viewed as important and (b) not likely to be picked up on by nearby Gentiles.

I doubt there is any record of the earliest use of the name, as it was, and still is, used almost exclusively in speech.

  • You mean like shmais.com/go/img/largepics/image2524.jpg Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 0:37
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    @ShmuelBrin Yes, though that might actually be for Yoseph.
    – LazerA
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 1:40
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    I think it is.. Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 2:45
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    According to my reference on Ashkenazic names, Yoshke comes from Yosef, not Yehoshua, but it's often wrong. Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 3:37
  • @CharlesKoppelman I've encountered that usage as well.
    – LazerA
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 4:23

I believe the original term was Yoshke Pandre referring to the notion that Jesus was not fathered by Joseph, a Jew but rather a Roman centurion named Panthera. The intent is to be derogatory. There is a chapter on this in Peter Schäfer's Jesus in the Talmud

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