Numbers 11:28 NASB

28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said,

Moses only stayed for only a year in Egypt after his return from Midian before they left for Canaan

Moses and Joshua only met after Moses return from Midian.On their way to Rephidim that is when Moses enlisted the services of Joshua to lead the army.

There is no record of Moses being acquainted to Joshua before this.

So how was Joshua an attendant to Moses from youth when it seems they only been acquainted for a short time

  • I honestly don't understand why you think that from his youth is anything other than a simple note or observation of the biblical writers, implying that he was a young man when the events described there took place. – Lucian Sep 8 '19 at 6:53

The word translated "from his youth" is מִבְּחֻרָיו mibkhuraw, which actually has three parts: "from his bkhurim". This allows some room for interpretation and translation.

Here are the three readings I see:

  1. "From his youth." One might wonder how a plural word normally meaning "young man" could be translated "youth", but this is not the only instance of a plural yielding an abstraction. In this reading, which is the NASB's, I take it we mean Joshua's youth since, as you note, he's not mentioned earlier in Moses' life.

  2. "One of his young men." This would be the literal plural of bakhur "young man". In this case the possessive is Moses'.

  3. "One of his chosen men." The reason this is possible is that bakhur is actually the past participle of b-kh-r "to choose", which often appears with just that meaning. (How that semantic shift came about would be an interesting study, but we can speculate about the qualities of what we too in English call "select", "eligible" young folk — simply those who are fit for the tasks we assign to the young and strong?)

You can easily find translations that use all three of these options using a parallel view.

Interestingly, the Septuagint opted for the third one, rendering it ὁ ἐκελεκτὸς o ekelektos "chosen, elected".

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  • One might wonder how a plural word normally meaning "young man" could be translated "youth" - Not if one is Romanian... – Lucian Sep 8 '19 at 6:57

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