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Joshua was foundational in establishing the kingdom of Israel after the death of Moses. He led the invasion into Canaan, slayed giants, and helped Israel take the land for a possession. However, many people, including myself at one time, know every little about his background. Many of us pick up the Joshua story from his report back to Moses, along with the eleven other spies.
“And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” – Numbers 13:33-34
Out of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb left a good report. But, his story starts long before he became a spy.
The Half African Tribe of Ephraim
During Joseph’s stay in Egypt, he married Asenath (Genesis 41:45), the daughter of an Egyptian priest and had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim and Manasseh were 50% Hebrew and 50% Egyptian (African). This fact is largely ignored because of what it says about Hamites marrying into the Hebrew line. Upon his deathbed, Jacob adopts Ephraim and Manasseh as his own sons, and gives them Reuben’s birthright.
“Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:)” – 1 Chronicles 5:1-2
This is a significant move on Jacob’s part because it means that Joseph’s interracial marriage to a Hamite was recognized and accepted by God. Not only was this marriage validated, but Joseph’s mixed children were given all the rights of Jacob’s natural born first son. The first born had first rights to everything of the father’s, and they received a double portion compared to all of the other children.
Joshua’s Hamite Heritage
It is into the part Egyptian (Hamite) tribe of Ephraim that Joshua was born. While we do know that the tribe of Ephraim started off at least half Egyptian, we don’t know if Ephraimites in Joshua’s lineage continued to mix. There’s a possibility that they did, but we just don’t know for sure. All we know for sure was that Joshua had at least some Hamite blood.
“Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun.” – Numbers 13:8
This is just one of 29 verse where we are told that Joshua’s father was named Nun. He is always referred to as Joshua’s father, but unfortunately, we don’t have any more information about him.
From Oshea To Jehoshua
Later we learn that it is Moses that changes his name to Jehoshua (Joshua). This turns out to be a small, but very significant change.
“These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.” – Numbers 13:16
Names are often changed in scripture when something significant happens or is about to happen. They are often times prophetic or descriptive of the events.
- Oshea: salvation
- Jehoshua: the Lord is salvation
The name changed seems to be a combination of “Yah” + “Oshea”. The Hebrew language always uses the letter “Y”, but it is changed to a “J” when it is translated into English. Because of this, the Hebrew name Yehoshua becomes the English name Joshua.
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When we think of the Exodus, the most used names are Moses, Aaraon, and Miriam, but the entire time, Moses was training Joshua to take his position. When Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments, only Joshua was allowed to accompany him to receive the word:
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.” – Exodus 24:12 – 14