Numbers 13:16
These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.
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(16) And Moses called Oshea . . . —It is not distinctly stated that the change of name took place at this time. It may have taken place at an earlier period, and have been confirmed on the present occasion, as in the case of Israel (Genesis 32:28; Genesis 35:10), and of Bethel (Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:15). On the other hand, it is quite possible that the name may have been proleptically adopted in Exodus 17:9; Exodus 17:13; Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:17; Exodus 33:11, and Numbers 11:28. The original name Hoshea means help, or salvation. The name Joshua, or Jehoshua, means Jehovah is help, or salvation.

Numbers 13:16. Jehoshua — Oshea denotes a desire of salvation, signifying, Save, we pray thee; but Jehoshua, or Joshua, includes a promise of salvation, He will save. So this was a prophecy of his succession to Moses in the government, and of the success of his arms. Joshua is the same name with Jesus, of whom Joshua was a type. He was the Saviour of God’s people from the powers of Canaan, Christ from the powers of hell.

13:1-20 A memorable and melancholy history is related in this and the following chapter, of the turning back of Israel from the borders of Canaan, and the sentencing them to wander and perish in the wilderness, for their unbelief and murmuring. It appears, De 1:22, that the motion to search out the land came from the people. They had a better opinion of their own policy than of God's wisdom. Thus we ruin ourselves by believing the reports and representations of sense rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith. Moses gave the spies this charge, Be of good courage. It was not only a great undertaking they were put upon, which required good management and resolution; but a great trust was reposed in them, which required that they should be faithful. Courage in such circumstances can only spring from strong faith, which Caleb and Joshua alone possessed.Oshea, Hoshea, or Hosea, the name also of the last king of Israel and the first minor prophet, means "deliverance" or and by the hand of him who bore the title of "God's salvation." Jehoshua was contracted (compare Nehemiah 8:17) into Jeshua. 16. Oshea—that is, "a desire of salvation." Jehoshua, by prefixing the name of God, means "divinely appointed," "head of salvation," "Saviour," the same as Jesus [Mt 1:21, Margin]. Oshea notes a desire of salvation, signifying, Save, we pray thee, but Jehoshua, or Joshua, includes a promise of salvation, that he should save, or that God by his hands should save the people. So this was a prophecy of his succession to Moses in the government, and of the success of his arms.

These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land,.... Which is observed after the catalogue is given of them, Numbers 13:4; and this is repeated that their names may be taken notice of, which stand on record to the disgrace of the greater number of them, and to the honour of two only, Joshua and Caleb; and on the former the following remark is made:

and Moses called Oshea the son of Nun, Jehoshua; whether it was at this time that Moses gave him this name is not certain; if it was, then he is called so before by anticipation, for he is several times called so before this, and even the first time we hear of him, Exodus 17:9; wherefore Chaskuni reads it, Moses had called; but Jarchi thinks it was now given him, and that Moses prayed for him , "Jah" or "Jehovah" save thee from the counsel of the spies: the name is the same with Jesus, as appears from Hebrews 4:8; and a type he was of Christ the Saviour, whose name is so called, because he saves his people from their sins, Matthew 1:21; and brings them to heaven, as Joshua was the instrument of saving the Israelites and bringing them into the land of Canaan.

These are the names of the {c} men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.

(c) Which in number were twelve according to the twelve tribes.

16. Joshua has not been hitherto mentioned in P . Exodus 17:9; Exodus 17:13; Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:17; Exodus 33:11, Numbers 11:28 are all J E . Hoshea, as the name of the son of Nun, is found only in Numbers 13:8 and Deuteronomy 32:44 (in the latter probably a textual error for ‘Joshua’). ‘Since, according to P , the name of Yahweh [Jehovah] was not revealed until after Joshua’s birth (Exodus 6:3), a name containing Yeho = Yahweh could not have been given him at birth. P therefore attributes the name to Moses’ (Gray).

Verse 16. - Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. The change was from הושֵׁעַ (Hoshea, help or salvation) to יְהושֻׁעַ (Jehoshua - the same name with the first syllable of the sacred name prefixed, and one of the vowel points modified). It was afterwards contracted into יֵשׁוּעַ (Jeshua; cf. Nehemiah 8:17), and has come to us in its current form through the Vulgate. The Septuagint has here ἐπωνόμασε τὸν Αὐσὴ Ιησοῦν, and so the name appears in the New Testament. It is an obvious difficulty that Joshua has already been called by his new name at Exodus 17:9, and in every other place where he has been mentioned. In fact he is only once elsewhere called Hoshea, and that in a place (Deuteronomy 32:44) where we should certainly not have expected it. There are two ways of explaining the difficulty, such as it is. We may suppose that the change of name was really made at this time, as the narrative seems (on the face of it) to assert; and then the previous mentions of Joshua by his subsequent and more familiar name will be cases of that anticipation which is so common in Scripture (cf., e.g., Matthew 9:9 with Mark 2:14). Or we may suppose, what is perhaps more in harmony with the course of Joshua's life, that the change bad been already made at the time of the victory over Amalek. In that case the Vav consec. in וַיִּקִרָא (and... called) must be referred to the order of thought, not of time, and a sufficient reason must be shown for the interpolation of the statement in this particular place. Such a reason may fairly be found in the probable fact that the names of the spies were copied out of the tribal registers, and that Joshua still appeared under his original name in those registers. As to the significance of the change, it is not easy to estimate it aright. On the one hand, the sacred syllable entered into so many of the Jewish names that it could not have seemed a very marked change; on the other hand, the fact that our Saviour received the same name because he was our Saviour throws a halo of glory about it which we cannot ignore. In the Divine providence Hoshea became Joshua because he was destined to be the temporal saviour of his people, and to lead them into their promised rest. Numbers 13:16Despatch of the Spies of Canaan. - Numbers 13:1. The command of Jehovah, to send out men to spy out the land of Canaan, was occasioned, according to the account given by Moses in Deuteronomy 1:22., by a proposal of the congregation, which pleased Moses, so that he laid the matter before the Lord, who then commanded him to send out for this purpose, "of every tribe of their fathers a man, every one a ruler among them, i.e., none but men who were princes in their tribes, who held the prominent position of princes, i.e., distinguished persons of rank; or, as it is stated in Numbers 13:3, "heads of the children of Israel," i.e., not the tribe-princes of the twelve tribes, but those men, out of the total number of the heads of the tribes and families of Israel, who were the most suitable for such a mission, though the selection was to be made in such a manner that every tribe should be represented by one of its own chiefs. That there were none of the twelve tribe-princes among them is apparent from a comparison of their names (Numbers 13:4-15) with the (totally different) names of the tribe-princes (Numbers 1:3., Numbers 7:12.). Caleb and Joshua are the only spies that are known. The order, in which the tribes are placed in the list of the names in Numbers 13:4-15, differs from that in Numbers 1:5-15 only in the fact that in Numbers 13:10 Zebulun is separated from the other sons of Leah, and in Numbers 13:11 Manasseh is separated from Ephraim. The expression "of the tribe of Joseph," in Numbers 13:11, stands for "of the children of Joseph," in Numbers 1:10; Numbers 34:23. At the close of the list it is still further stated, that Moses called Hoshea (i.e., help), the son of Nun, Jehoshua, contracted into Joshua (i.e., Jehovah-help, equivalent to, whose help is Jehovah). This statement does not present any such discrepancy, when compared with Exodus 17:9, Exodus 17:13; Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:17; Exodus 33:11, and Numbers 11:28, where Joshua bears this name as the servant of Moses at a still earlier period, as to point to any diversity of authorship. As there is nothing of a genealogical character in any of these passages, so as to warrant us in expecting to find the family name of Joshua in them, the name Joshua, by which Hosea had become best known in history, could be used proleptically in them all. On the other hand, however, it is not distinctly stated in the verse before us, that this was the occasion on which Moses gave Hosea the new name of Joshua. As the Vav consec. frequently points out merely the order of thought, the words may be understood without hesitation in the following sense: These are the names borne by the heads of the tribes to be sent out as spies, as they stand in the family registers according to their descent; Hosea, however, was named Joshua by Moses; which would not by any means imply that the alteration in the name had not been made till then. It is very probable that Moses may have given him the new name either before or after the defeat of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:9.), or when he took him into his service, though it has not been mentioned before; whilst here the circumstances themselves required that it should be stated that Hosea, as he was called in the list prepared and entered in the documentary record according to the genealogical tables of the tribes, had received from Moses the name of Joshua. In Numbers 13:17-20 Moses gives them the necessary instructions, defining more clearly the motive which the congregation had assigned for sending them out, namely, that they might search out the way into the land and to its towns (Deuteronomy 1:22). "Get you up there (זה in the south country, and go up to the mountain." Negeb, i.e., south country, lit., dryness, aridity, from נגב, to be dry or arid (in Syr., Chald, and Samar.). Hence the dry, parched land, in contrast to the well-watered country (Joshua 15:19; Judges 1:15), was the name given to the southern district of Canaan, which forms the transition from the desert to the strictly cultivated land, and bears for the most part the character of a steppe, in which tracts of sand and heath are intermixed with shrubs, grass, and vegetables, whilst here and there corn is also cultivated; a district therefore which was better fitted for grazing than for agriculture, though it contained a number of towns and villages (see at Joshua 15:21-32). "The mountain" is the mountainous part of Palestine, which was inhabited by Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites (Numbers 13:29), and was called the mountains of the Amorites, on account of their being the strongest of the Canaanitish tribes (Deuteronomy 1:7, Deuteronomy 1:19.). It is not to be restricted, as Knobel supposes, to the limits of the so-called mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:48-62), but included the mountains of Israel or Ephraim also (Joshua 11:21; Joshua 20:7), and formed, according to Deuteronomy 1:7, the backbone of the whole land of Canaan up to Lebanon.
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