In the "Ten Commandments" movie, they depict Joshua waiting for Moses somewhere just below the top of the mountain. I know that Hollywood tends to embellish the facts, but I'm curious if Joshua actually did go up to any part of the mountain.

The Torah does not explicitly mention this fact. Additionally, view these verses:

Exodus 24:1-2:

וְאֶל־מֹשֶׁ֨ה אָמַ֜ר עֲלֵ֣ה אֶל־יְהוָ֗ה אַתָּה֙ וְאַהֲרֹן֙ נָדָ֣ב וַאֲבִיה֔וּא וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים מִזִּקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶ֖ם מֵרָחֹֽק׃ וְנִגַּ֨שׁ מֹשֶׁ֤ה לְבַדּוֹ֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה וְהֵ֖ם לֹ֣א יִגָּ֑שׁוּ וְהָעָ֕ם לֹ֥א יַעֲל֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ׃

And to Moses He said: ‘Come up to the LORD, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and bow down from a distance; and Moses alone shall come to the LORD; but they shall not come; neither shall the people go up with him.’

Joshua is not mentioned here, unless, he was included as one of the "70 elders of Israel".

Later, it says:

Exodus 24:13-14:

וַיָּ֣קָם מֹשֶׁ֔ה וִיהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ מְשָׁרְת֑וֹ וַיַּ֥עַל מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־הַ֥ר הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃ וְאֶל־הַזְּקֵנִ֤ים אָמַר֙ שְׁבוּ־לָ֣נוּ בָזֶ֔ה עַ֥ד אֲשֶׁר־נָשׁ֖וּב אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וְהִנֵּ֨ה אַהֲרֹ֤ן וְחוּר֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם מִי־בַ֥עַל דְּבָרִ֖ים יִגַּ֥שׁ אֲלֵהֶֽם׃

And Moses and Joshua his minister arose; and Moses went up into the mount of God. And to the elders he said: ‘Sit here for us, until we come back to you; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whosoever has a cause, let him come near unto them.’

I've bolded the words above to indicate that they are plural. It states that Joshua "arose" with Moses (I assume that it means that he got up in the morning to go with Moses, and not meaning that he rose with him to the mountain.) Then, instructing everyone, Moses says, wait for us until we return, implying that Joshua was to go with him. But it states that only Moses went up to the mountain.

So where was Joshua during that time?

1 Answer 1


Rashi asks why was Joshua mentioned, if he did not ascend the mountain with Moses. He answers that he accompanied Moses up to the allowed limits, and waited there alone ("נטה שם אהלו") until he came back (he was the first to greet him upon his return). The Malbim think so as well.

So, as Rabbi Shelomo Amar explains, the plural tense can be understood such that Joshua was above the other elders' level, so he went further up the mountain than them. Therefore, when Moses returns, he will meet Joshua and return to the elders. He also mentioned the Ramban who, even though counts Joshua with the elders, still mentions the fact that Joshua is a level above them.

  • 1
    Also note that Yehoshua comments about the noise from the camp so that he was with Moshe and did not know what was happening. Feb 2, 2016 at 19:26

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