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In many translations, Deut 32:44, Moses refers to Joshua as Hoshea son of Nun (in translations such as GNV, KJV, ASV, EHV, OJB, CJB). Some translations (ie: NKJV, ESV, CSB, HCSB) have Moses saying Joshua son of Nun; suspecting the newer translations.

1st part of the question: what is the original text stating? Which translation has it correct?

2nd part or the question (applies if the original text says “Hoshea”): if the 1st generation Israelites (the ones under Moses’ leadership in the original Exodus) are dead, it stands to reason that the 2nd generation would not plainly know Joshua as “Hoshea.” What is the significance of Moses referring to Joshua as “Hoshea” in this verse and context?

I suspect its in the meaning of the name (“Save!” vs “Yahweh is Salvation”…thank you guys for the posts that translate this name), and if so, what is he telling the Israelites in this text that isn’t plainly stated?

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  • Is it not the case that there was no letter 'J' in Hebrew, therefore no Hebrew text of the scriptures could ever call him Joshua? Pardon me if your question has nothing to do with letters of alphabets, but is entirely about meanings of names. A good question which I hope will educate me with good answers!
    – Anne
    Apr 27, 2022 at 15:55

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[1] Regarding Yehoshua's original title הוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן־נוּן Hoshea Ben-Nun in [Devarim 32:44], the text states : "And Moshe came and spoke all the words of this song into the ears of the people he and-Hoshea son-[of]-Nun." (וַיָּבֹ֣א משֶׁ֗ה וַיְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַשִּׁירָֽה־הַזֹּ֖את בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם ה֖וּא וְהוֹשֵׁ֥עַ בִּן־נֽוּן)

[2] What is the significance of Moses referring to Joshua as “Hoshea” in this verse and context?

The Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz - 'Kli Yakar' Commentary (1602 CE) of [Deuteronomy 32:44]

He was only named Yehoshua due to Moshe’s prayer that Hashem should save him from the plot of the spies. As long as there were people from that generation alive, he was called by the name Yehoshua. However, once all of that generation had died out, there was no longer a need to call him by that name, and Moshe returned to calling him Hoshe’a.
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The names of some people in the OT (and even NT) were not entirely fixed. Joshua son of Nun had two different spellings as follows:

  • הוֹשֵׁעַ = Hoshea, as per Num 13:8, 16 and Deut 32:44. It appears that this was the original name of Joshua which Moses changed to Joshua (below) as per Num 13:16.
  • יְהוֹשׁוּעַ = Yehoshua, as per Ex 17:9, 24:13, 32:17, 33:11, Deut 3:21, 31:3, 7, 14, 23, 34:9, Josh 1:1, Judges 2:6, 7, 8, 21, 23, etc.

Thus, there is no doubt that these two names refer to the same person.

Num 13:8, 16 - from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun; ... These were the names of the men Moses sent to spy out the land; and Moses gave to Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.

However, why Moses should used Joshua's old name "Hoshea" in Deut 32:44 is unknown. I note that the LXX, Syriac, Vulgate have the newer name of Joshua; specifically, the LXX has Ἰησοῦς = Iesous or Jesus.

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