Friday, June 04, 2010

When did Moshe call Hoshea Yehoshua?

Summary: On a peshat level, just when did Moshe give Yehoshua his new name? For what purpose? As per Rashi, Bechor Shor, Rashbam, and Shadal.

Post: In the list of spies, we find Hoshea ben Nun, but immediately thereafter, we are told that Moshe named Hoshea ben Nun Yehoshua.

16. These are the names of the men Moses sent to scout the Land, and Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.טז. אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן נוּן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ:

According to Rashi, basing himself on a gemara in Sotah, this is a prayer of sorts:

And Moses called Hoshea…: He prayed on his behalf,“May God save you from the counsel of the spies.” [The name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ is a compounded form of יוֹשִׁיעך ‏ ֲיָהּ May God save you.]- [Sotah 34b]ויקרא משה להושע וגו': התפלל עליו יה יושיעך מעצת מרגלים:

This explanation of the midrash, given by Judaica Press' translation of Rashi, seems correct, and what I would have suggested myself. In particular, the choice of irregular Divine Name makes it clear that this is an expansion and explanation of the name Yehoshua. I've seen, in addition, the claim that we should parse it as follows: ויקרא משה -- Moshe called, or perhaps called out; להושע -- in order to save. And that is what makes this a tefillah. Perhaps. (In which case, it could operate on a midrashic level, entirely aside from the actual act of naming.)

This interpretation also would place the time of this naming to just before Moshe sends out the Meraglim. After all, that is when such a prayer is necessary.

Operating more on a peshat level, the point of this renaming may have absolutely nothing to do with the scouting mission. As Bechor Shor writes:

טז. ויקרא משה להושע בן נון
יהושע. — לא עתה, לפי הפשט, אלא מתחלה
כשנעשה משרתו ומצא חן בעיניו, כמו שעשה
הקב״ה לאברהם ולשרה וליעקב, ששינה שמם
לעילויא, אבל יצחק מתחלה נקרא על פיו של
הקב״ה [יצחק], וכן פרעה להבדיל — ליוסף:
״צפנת פענח״, ונבוכדנצר לדניאל חנניה מישאל
ועזריה, וצדקיה שהיה שמו מתניה ולנחמיה בן
הכליה: ״התרשתה״ לפי שהיה משקהו, ולפי
שלא תתמה: שכאן קורא אותו ״הושע״ ובכל
התורה ״יהושע״, אומר לך כאן: כי שמו ״הושע״,
אלא שמשה שינהו לעילויא יקרא שמו ״יהושע״.

That is, Moshe called him Yehoshua much earlier, when he first acted as his mesharet. And there are all sorts of parallels for such renaming. The Torah only tells this to us here because in the listing of the spies, it refers to him as Hosheah, whereas in all other places, he is Yehoshua. So as not to confuse the reader, the Biblical text informs us that this is the person we all know and love as Yehoshua.

This strikes me as the somewhat obvious peshat.

And so too Rashbam:

פסוק טז 

ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע - 

לא עתה קרא אותו כן, שהרי כבר קודם לכן נקרא יהושע אלא כך פירושו: הושע בן נון שאמרנו למעלה שנקרא כן בבית אביו הוא אותו שקרא משה [יהושע] כשנעשה משרתו והפקידו על ביתו, שכך היה מנהגם כמו: ויקרא פרעה שם יוסף צפנת פענח. 

ויקרא לדניאל די שמיה בלטשצר כשם אלהיה. 

That the calling is not now, but earlier, when he began to serve.

Shadal, meanwhile, sides with Rashi and the gemara in Sotah -- at least, somewhat. He writes:
טז]ויקרא משה להושע וגו' : נראין יותר דברי חז"ל (סוטה ל"ד ע"ב) שמשה קרא להושע יהושע עכשיו ולא קודם לכם כדעת רשב"ם, כי לא היה מן הצורך לכתוב זה כאן אם היה זה דבר נושן. ובהפך נראה כדברי הכורם, כי עכשיו כששלחו עם אנשים חשובים שינה שמו לבלי ייקרא עוד בשם שנקרא בו במדרגת משרת, וכן ביוסף ( בראשית מ"א מ"ג ) ודניאל ( דניאל א ז) שינוי השם נעשה כשעלו לגדולה.

Not that this was a tefillah. However, that Moshe did change Hoshea's name to Yehoshua just now. For otherwise, why the need to write this here, if it was an old matter? And further, that now that he is sending him with important people, he changed his name so that he should not have the same name as when he was on the level of a mesharet. And then he gives parallels to changing names when arising to power.

I am not convinced by Shadal's argument here. Rather, it strikes me that the comment about the name change seems like a meta-textual comment. It is NOT part of the narrative. Rather, it is a clarifying comment. Why specifically here? Because the Biblical text weaves together different "voices". And this was citing the list of people who went as scouts (when interjecting with veEileh shemotam), with Hoshea as the name for this particular scout. And then, this meta-Biblical comment clarifying just who this was. At least, that is how the text resonates in my own mind. (Perhaps we can even read the pasuk as stating that despite this extra-Biblical list having the non-theophoric name of Hoshea, Moshe, throughout the Torah, called his name by the theophoric version, Yehoshua. Read the pasuk again with this in mind.)

I see that Nesivos HaShalom makes an interesting point, in favor of Rashbam. Namely, how can we say that he was only called this name at this point, when many times prior to the sending of the meraglim he is called by the name Yehoshua, when he was still a mesharet. For example, Shemot 17:9:

ט  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּחַר-לָנוּ אֲנָשִׁים, וְצֵא הִלָּחֵם בַּעֲמָלֵק; מָחָר, אָנֹכִי נִצָּב עַל-רֹאשׁ הַגִּבְעָה, וּמַטֵּה הָאֱלֹהִים, בְּיָדִי.9 And Moses said unto Joshua: 'Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.'

The fight with Amalek was before the sending of the spies! I wonder what Shadal would reply to this. Perhaps that this instance, and other instances, were written in retrospect, after the incident with the spies.

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