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Why does the verse (Bamidbar 13:16) mention that Moshe gave Hoshea bin Nun the name Yehoshua, making it seem like this was the first time Hoshea was actually called like that, but instead we see in several places in Shemos (e.g. 17:14) he is already called Yehoshua?!

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Note he is referred to as Hoshea again later in Devarim 32 – Double AA Jun 5 '13 at 14:10
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Maskil Ledavid says that Moshe prayed for Yehoshua (and changed his name) earlier, because he saw that in the future Yehoshua would need G-d's help. This is even slightly implied in the Gemara (Sotah 34B), where it says, "Yehoshua, Moshe already requested G-d's mercy for him". Already slightly implies that Moshe had done it before.

This would explain why he was already referred to as Yehoshua before the story of the spies.

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If someone can find a clearer print of the Maskil Ledavid to link to, that would be great. – Menachem Jun 19 '11 at 1:58
The Ramban says the same. – Raffy Van der Vaart Jan 25 '13 at 16:09
Seforno understands Rashi that way. – gt6989b Jun 5 '13 at 13:11

Tha Ramban says that we see from this Posuk that Moshe always called him Yehoshua. When the Meraglim went to Eretz Yisroel then Moshe publicly established his name as Yehoshua.

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