The Hebrew origin of the name Jesus

  • This post, originally posted bilingually, in Korean and English, back in 2019, deals with the Hebrew origin of the name “Jesus.” Now the post is separated in each language. For the Korean version, see this.


Joshua is the successor of Moses. According to the book of Joshua, he led the people of Israel to the “promised land,” Canaan, crossing the Jordan river. You can consider the events of the exodus from Egypt and entering Canaan as God’s salvation. Joshua’s being the leader of the time, in which Israel had marched and entered Canaan, therefore, suggests his prime importance in Israel’s history.

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The Whole Story of the Golden Calf Incident

Life-size basalt statue of the Apis Bull dedicated by Hadrian to Serapis in Alexandria (Egypt), Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt exhibition, Paris (2015)


In one of my previous posts, “How Many Times Did Moses Climb Mount Sinai?” I said I would give a full account of the so-called “Golden Calf incident” later, as the story is not as simple as it seems. This is the post.

I think many people understand the event as follows:

Moses, at the command of YHWH, had climbed mount Sinai, stayed 40 days and nights, and received YHWH’s laws (or Torah) as well as the tablets of stone. In the meantime, the people of Israel committed idolatry by worshiping a golden calf that they made. When Moses found out about it, he threw the stone tablets and broke them out of control, feeling outraged at the scene. So he had to climb the mountain to receive the stone tablets once again to replace the original ones.

Overall, this understanding of the story is not wrong, but this simple version veils some textual inconsistencies and contradictions, which may lead the reader of the Bible to critical theological questions about the Pentateuch or the Bible. Let’s try to disentangle the story on an issue-by-issue basis.

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How Many Times Did Moses Climb Mount Sinai


In the third month, after Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai, in which they received the law of God, including the Decalogue through Moses. Mount Sinai is the place where Moses communicated with God.

I assume that most readers understand the plot of the story quite simply. For example, Moses climbed Mount Sinai as God commanded, and he fasted for forty days and night to receive the law of God and the stone tablets of the Decalogue. But when Moses went down the mountain, he threw the tablets and broke them because he was outraged as he witnessed Isralietes committing idolatry while he was absent. So he had to go up the mountain again to receive new tablets of the Decalogue.

Honestly, this is how I understood the story in the past, but the actual story is far from it. If you don’t read the text as if you are analyzing it, it is almost impossible to follow the storyline, especially Moses’s move precisely.

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Lord: Adonai, Adoni, Adon

For a Korean version of the post, click here

1. Lord: Adonai, Adoni, Adon

(1) Adonai: Among the three words, the most well-known word is probably “Adonai.” “Adonai” is literally “my lords” as it is a combination of the plural construct (= /ʾªdōnê/) of the word “Adon,” meaning “lord”) and the pronominal suffix, 1st person singular (= /ai/ as in sky). But in biblical Hebrew, a plural form of a word does not always indicate its number but often its greatness of power, depth, width, etc. So in such cases, plural nouns are translated as a singular word. One of the most prominent examples might be Elohim, which is in form plural but often indicates the God of Israel, only one god. (But of course, it can be “gods” as well) And the word Adonai also is the same case. Adonia means “my lords,” but it most often means “my Lord.” What should be noted, however, is that this expression has indicated the God of Israel so often and long that Adonia itself became to mean just “the Lord,” rather than “my Lord(s).” Among the three words listed above, Adonia has the absolute majority of the occurrences to indicate Israel’s God. 

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예수라는 이름의 어원/기원

  • This post, originally posted bilingually, in Korean and English, back in 2019, deals with the Hebrew origin of the name “Jesus.” Now the post is separated in each language. For the English version, see this.


여호수아는 모세의 후계자이다. 여호수아(서)에 따르면 그는 광야에서 이스라엘을 이끌고 요단강을 건너 약속의 땅 가나안을 들어갈 당시 이스라엘의 지도자였다. 이스라엘에게 이집트 탈출과 가나안 정복은 ‘구원’의 사건이기 때문에 이 구원의 행진을 모세를 이어 여호수아가 이끌었다는 것은 여호수아가 얼마나 중요한 임무를 수행했는지를 알려준다.

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