I remember reading recently a question about the textual-critical issue of, 'Who saved the people, Jesus or the Lord?' (in regards to the fifth verse of Jude's Epistle):

If Jude 5 says "Lord", does it still refer to Jesus?

An exerpt from that question notes:

One of the reasons the UBS committee decided on the κύριος reading was that the Ἰησοῦς reading "was difficult to the point of impossibility."

Then I today read in Sirach:

Sirach 46:1 (DRB) Valiant in war was Jesus the son of Nave, who was successor of Moses among the prophets, who was great according to his name, 2 Very great for the saving the elect of God, to overthrow the enemies that rose up against them, that he might get the inheritance for Israel.

For reference, here is Jude 5:

Jude 5 (DRB) I will therefore admonish you, though ye once knew all things, that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not:

'Jesus' is the choice of translation for the Greek Ιησους (itself the choice of translation for apparently all Hebrew forms of the name Joshua) in most older translations, and doesn't necessarily refer to Jesus of Nazareth. Here in Sirach (properly, 'Jesus son of Sirach'), for example, the translation simply corresponds to the Hebrew יהושע—Joshua; the Septuagint also has, expectedly, Ιησους.


  • Is there any good reason to think Jude is not referring to the same thing as Sirach, since both are Hebrews and know of a Ιησους who is not Jesus who 'saved the people of God?'

  • If not, does this constitute an allusion to Sirach the book, or merely the event described?

  • Is there anything to this parallel beyond the words "saving the elect"? Matthew 1:21 has an even closer wording to Jude than Sirach does; if this is an allusion at all it might as well be to the Jesus of the gospels
    – b a
    Apr 1, 2019 at 20:28
  • Ben Sirah's full patronymic was שמעון בן ישוע בן אלעזר בן סירא, Simon son of Joshua son of Elazar son of Sira. Not clear how you got to 'Jesus son of Sirach'. Most sources refer to the author as שמעון בן סירא, Simon ben Sira. Also not clear how the transliteration of סירא got to be "Sirach". It should be "Sira". In your translation, "elect of God", the "of God" is an interpolation of the apparent meaning of בחיריו, "those who he/He chose". The phrase "of God" isn't in the Hebrew MS.
    – user17080
    Apr 2, 2019 at 19:34
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim It goes by many names. Wikipedia says: "written by the Jewish scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira." The J. Enyc. has for its entry: "SIRACH, THE WISDOM OF JESUS THE SON OF." I'm also unsure how it became "Sirach." I don't understand the thrust of the dichotomy between "the people" and "his/His chosen" ("his" often has God as its implied referent; something which Jerome sometimes sees fit to make explicit in certain instances) the referent alone matters. Apr 2, 2019 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Geniza MS B XV Verso, a.k.a MS.Heb.e.62, containing Ben Sira 45:23-46:6 as published at https://www.bensira.org/navigator.php?Manuscript=B&PageNum=30, the earliest Hebrew MS, transcribed by David Kohn and published at https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%91%D7%9F_%D7%A1%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%90_%D7%9E%D7%95 reads verses 46:1-3 as:

גבור בן חיל יהושע בן נון, משרת משה בנבואה

אשר נוצר להיות בימיו, תשועה גדולה לבחיריו

להנקם נקמי אויב, ולהנחיל את ישראל

My literal translation is:

A hero of valor Yehoshua ben Nun, the servant of Moses in prophecy

who was created to be, in his days, a great salvation to those for whom he chose (or possibly "was chosen").

to avenge the avengement of the enemy, and to bring Israel to inheritance

The rest of chapter 46 goes on to praise the Caleb, the Judges, and Samuel, so from the context, it is clear that this is a historical review and the Yehoshua to whom the chapter refers is not other than Joshua son of Nun, successor to Moses.

Since "Nun" is also the name of the Hebrew letter corresponding to the Greek letter Nu, νυ, I would speculate that in the translation "Jesus the son of Nave" cited in the OP, the the name "Nave" is a transliteration of νυ, which was the Greek translation of the name "Nun", as if the Hebrew patronymic was in fact a Hebrew initial. The NRSA, CEBA, GNTA and TMBA all read "Nun".

Another possibility for the "Nave" reading is that, coming at the end of the first half of the first verse, it alliterates with banavua, the last word in the verse. Likewise in the second verse, biyamaw rhymes with labichirow.

Furthermore, not all witnesses of Jude 5 read "Jesus". Some read, as the NIV:

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

The context of Jude 5 makes it clear that the the verse refers to the Exodus from Egypt and the punishments of the generation of the wilderness, some time before Joshua son of Nun was appointed leader. Surprisingly, the Exodus isn't mentioned in Ben Sira chapters 45 and 46 - because the focus is on the people, not the events.

So, to answer the question, there is no connection at all between Jude 5 and Ben Sira 46:1 other than the coincidence that some manuscripts of Jude apparently have Ιησους and Ben Sira 46:1 alludes to Joshua son of Nun.

  • Thanks for the insightful summary. Wouldn't it need to be another Joshua than "Joshua the servant of Moses" in order for both not to be referring to the same 'Joshua of the Exodus of Jude 5?' It wouldn't be 'coincidence' in this case that manuscripts read Ιησους, but expected; the reading 'Jesus' making its way into variants is otherwise inexplicable, after all. Apr 4, 2019 at 12:23

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