Was the son of Nun first called Joshua before (Exodus 17:9; 20:1-3; 24:13) or after (Numbers 3:1; 10:12; 11:28; 13:8, 16) Sinai? Is there a contradiction?
The questioner’s focus here is specifically on the latter part of Numbers 13:16:
…And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
This young man is referred to as Hoshea twice (Numbers 13:8, 16). Everywhere else he is called Joshua. The text given above reveals that Moses changed his name, by adding a letter to his existing name. The slight change transformed his name from Hoshea (Heb. ףשוה) which means deliverer, to Joshua (Heb. ףשוהי), which means Jehovah saves.
So, when did Moses make the change? Was it before or after Sinai? I don’t know; neither does the questioner. Numbers 13:16 doesn’t tell us when this change was made, simply that it was. Neither does it matter when his name was changed, except that the questioner is looking for a cause to complain about the Bible.
Regardless when his name was changed, it is likely that the references in Exodus are a matter of familiarity. The people knew him as Joshua, not Hoshea. However, in the list of representatives, perhaps considered an official list in Numbers 13, his given name is supplied. However, to avoid confusion for the reader about who this representative from the tribe of Ephraim is, Moses clarified in verse 16—this is Joshua.
There is no contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.