Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Hebrew Name Joshua

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Joshua is the anglicized form of the Hebrew name Ye’ho’shua.

The only real biographical information given about Joshua in the Torah is that he was from the tribe of Ephraim and was originally named Hoshea. According to the Midrash, a yud was added to the beginning of his name by Moses before he went to scout out the land of Israel in order to give him Divine protection from the nefarious plans of the 10 rebellious spies (Numbers 13:16).

One can deduce from the text, that Joshua was around 42 years old when the Israelites left Egypt. (The Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years, then Joshua them for 28 years. He was 110 when he died.)

Joshua was a proven military leader who had led the Israelites in their successful defense when they were attacked by Amalek (Exodus 17:8-14), and could thus be relied upon to successfully lead the conquest of Canaan.

He was also Moses’ most devoted disciple. He learned the entire Torah from Moses and, more importantly, he learned how to understand the laws in the same way his teacher did. “Even in matters that he had not heard from Moses, his own reasoning corresponded with what had been told to Moses at Sinai” (Jerusalem Talmud, Pe’ah 1:1).

According to the Midrash, however, Joshua was more than a scholar and a military leader. Numbers Rabbah (21:14) reports that God said to Moses: “Joshua constantly served you and accorded you much honor. He came early to your house of assembly to arrange the benches and spread the mats. Since he served you with all his might, he is worthy of serving Israel.”

According to tradition, Joshua married Rahab, the heroic woman from the city of Jericho, after the conquest of that city and, according to Megillah 14b, had only daughters and no sons.

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