Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

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Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby sharpanne » Thu Sep 23, 2021 5:03 am

Do Israeli ambulances say "rescue" anywhere on them? I'm fact-checking a book.
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Sep 23, 2021 2:56 pm

I'm not Israeli but I did a Google image search for Israeli ambulances and didn't see the word ישועה on any of them. The most prominent phrases were the English word "Ambulance", the name of the organization מגן דויד אדום (Red Star of David) in Hebrew and English, and the phrase ניידת טיפול נמרע (meaning "Mobile Intensive Care Unit") in Hebrew and English.

Is this for a book you are reading or one you are writing? I think a certain amount of creative license is fine so if it's important to your story I don't think an inaccurate vehicle decal is going to ruin it. I'm guessing this might have something to do with its similarity to the Aramaic name form of Joshua, ישוע (Yeshuaʿ), better known by the Hellenized form commonly rendered in English as Jesus?
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby sharpanne » Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:31 pm

Thanks! I'm reading a theology book, and in it the author says a professor of Hebrew Scriptures he had was fond of reminding them that the Hebrew word for salvation (or rescue) was the word written on the front of ambulances in Israel today. Made me curious. Maybe it was true at the time the author was in school or when the professor was young, which is probably 40-60 years ago now? Given the appalling historical treatment of Jews by Christians, I still find it hard to believe.
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:01 pm

sharpanne wrote:Thanks! I'm reading a theology book, and in it the author says a professor of Hebrew Scriptures he had was fond of reminding them that the Hebrew word for salvation (or rescue) was the word written on the front of ambulances in Israel today. Made me curious. Maybe it was true at the time the author was in school or when the professor was young, which is probably 40-60 years ago now? Given the appalling historical treatment of Jews by Christians, I still find it hard to believe.
Oh, I misunderstood. I thought you were writing a story.

I don't understand what any historical persecution by Christians has to do with Israeli usage of a Hebrew word that predates Christianity. The word ישועה occurs many times in the Hebrew Bible, as you can see in this lexicon entry: https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/eng ... /3444.html

Interestingly, I was able to track down an interesting article about ambulances with a different Hebrew word (הִצָּלָה) that can translate to English as "salvation" or "rescue" (or technically, the salvation/rescue): https://ulpan.com/how-to-say-salvation-in-hebrew/

Apparently, Hatzalah was founded in the US but does operate in many countries, including Israel.
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby sharpanne » Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:47 pm

Yes, the word for salvation in Hebrew pre-dates Christianity. But as your linked site points out, there are other Hebrew words for "rescue" that could be used on an ambulance. I just was thinking that if I were an Israeli, I would not want to use a word associated with Jesus' name to put on my ambulance-- I would use any other synonym to avoid a negative association with Christianity. But maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive on their behalf, or maybe nobody in Israel would think twice about the fact that it's similar to Jesus' name (it stands out to Christians, though).
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby Deinonysus » Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:39 am

sharpanne wrote:Yes, the word for salvation in Hebrew pre-dates Christianity. But as your linked site points out, there are other Hebrew words for "rescue" that could be used on an ambulance. I just was thinking that if I were an Israeli, I would not want to use a word associated with Jesus' name to put on my ambulance-- I would use any other synonym to avoid a negative association with Christianity. But maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive on their behalf, or maybe nobody in Israel would think twice about the fact that it's similar to Jesus' name (it stands out to Christians, though).

Yeah, the connection did stand out to me as well, but Jesus' name was a variant of a very popular Jewish name, being the Aramaic version of Joshua, and although "Joshua" looks and sounds very different from "Jesus" in English, that's because the name Jesus was filtered through Greek; in Hebrew, ישוע (Yeshua/Jesus) and יהושע (Joshua) are very similar. Nobody has stopped naming Jewish kids Josh because of what some bad people have done in the name of one particular Josh, so I doubt that people would stop using the associated word יהושעה for the same reason.
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby linguaphile » Fri Sep 24, 2021 6:01 pm

Also not a native Hebrew speaker, but maybe I can help put some of the things discussed so far together and also give some extra info.

As for the first part, Deinonysus basically explained it well, but just to put it all together: There are indeed ambulances with the Hebrew word for "rescue", but that word is not ישועה and those ambulances are not necessarily in Israel.
  • ישועה basically means "salvation", whereas the standard Hebrew word for "rescue" (particularly in terms of rescue services like ambulances) is הצלה. The translations to English may not be exactly 1:1 (after all, one can talk about "God rescuing them from their fate" or whatever), but the distinction in Hebrew is pretty clear. A lifeboat is סירת הצלה, for example, while search and rescue is חיפוש והצלה; on the other hand, ישועה clearly has a spiritual tone, and it wouldn't be used in the same way.
  • Hatzalah (הצלה) is indeed an volunteer Jewish community organization that runs an ambulance service in several places around the world with Jewish communities. I used to see their ambulances when I lived in NYC. The standard Israeli ambulances are מגן דוד אדום though, and while Hatzalah may indeed also have a presence in Israel, they're also a parallel volunteer organization there, and not the main Israeli ambulances. Their name does mean "rescue" though, and it's on their ambulances.
As for the part about Christianity/Jesus:
  • Hebrew is essentially built around a system of 3-letter verb roots, and the word ישועה comes from the root י-ש-ע, which relates to salvation. There are two common Hebrew names that also contain this root: יהושע (Yehoshua, aka Joshua) and ישעיהו (Yeshayahu, aka Isaiah). Both can be interpreted as something about God providing salvation. The latter in particular I think is generally only used by religious people nowadays in Israel.
  • Christians refer to Jesus' Hebrew name as ישוע (Yeshua), which is presumably derived from from יהושע/Yehoshua, as Deinonysus mentioned. However, this is not actually the name by which Jesus is generally known in Hebrew by Hebrew speakers! Jesus is generally known by Hebrew speakers as ישו (Yeshu) – in other words, a name that doesn't even contain the essential י-ש-ע root. Assuming Jesus existed historically (as most scholars say), the name he used may indeed have been the version with the ע that Christians use nowadays – but unless they've had significant contacts with Christians, I'd be shocked if most Israelis would even be aware of that version. Personally I've only ever heard ישו in Hebrew from Hebrew speakers, and I've only ever seen ישוע from Christians or people quoting Christians. (Though I'm not sure which one is used by native Hebrew-speaking Christians! I'd guess ישוע.)
  • So basically, when seeing the Hebrew word for "salvation", if a Jewish Israeli were to make a connection with a name, it would be one of the two actual common Hebrew names that contain the same י-ש-ע root. But not with the name ישו, which is what they call Jesus, and which isn't something that comes up very often there anyway, and which most importantly doesn't even contain the י-ש-ע root. Christians, who call him ישוע in Hebrew, would clearly make that connection if they had studied Hebrew, as might other non-Israelis who are only familiar with the Christian version of the name – because that name has the root and is much more present outside Israel. (Again, though, all kinda moot since it's not the word on the ambulances! ;) )
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Re: Do Israeli ambulance say "rescue" on them?

Postby AllSubNoDub » Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:41 pm

sharpanne wrote:Yes, the word for salvation in Hebrew pre-dates Christianity. But as your linked site points out, there are other Hebrew words for "rescue" that could be used on an ambulance. I just was thinking that if I were an Israeli, I would not want to use a word associated with Jesus' name to put on my ambulance-- I would use any other synonym to avoid a negative association with Christianity. But maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive on their behalf, or maybe nobody in Israel would think twice about the fact that it's similar to Jesus' name (it stands out to Christians, though).


I didn't realize being Israeli meant being religiously Jewish. :lol: I sure hope the ambulances are willing to pick up anybody, especially in cities like Nazareth.

I've done contract work for Israel and I'm always wished a Merry Christmas, by the way (to which I never know how to reply). Any ill-will would be news to be, and I have several Messianic co-workers - unfortunately for this thread, there's probably no appropriate time to bring up questions ambulances in our meetings though. I would assume people think about it as much as they think about Jesus when you say "Christmas lights" or "Salvation Army" or "bless you" after a sneeze or meeting somebody named "Chris".
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