I Found the Mother of All Plot Holes in The Ten Commandments (1956)

The Ten Commandments (1956) is one of the best movies ever made. It’s ambitious, awe-inspiring, emotional, and respectful of its source material. Everything I could ask for from a Biblical epic. So it was all the more surprising when I discovered a major plot hole in the film on my most recent viewing of it.

The God with No Name

First, some context. You see, this film boldly states that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the very God of Israel, has no name. Or at least He had never revealed His name to the Israelites up to that point in history (about 1400 B.C.). It’s an intriguing proposition that made me as a kid try to notice things that I take for granted. Of course we know the name of God today. But for God’s chosen people who had suffered in slavery for centuries, it must have felt like He had forsaken them because they worshipped Him in ignorance of His name or any other attribute of His character.

In this scene, pay attention to the man who inspires Moses to find God and speak with Him.

When God first speaks to Moses, face to face, on Mount Sinai and gives him the task of delivering the Israelites from Egypt, Moses says that the people won’t believe him unless he can tell them God’s name. How does God respond? He says, “I Am that I Am. Thou shalt say, ‘I Am hath sent me unto you.’” He doesn’t specifically state that His name is Jehovah at that moment and He never does in this film. But in Exodus 6:2-3, it reads, “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” All of this happened just before Moses returned to Egypt.

Joshua

All right, are we clear on the fact that none of the Israelites knew the name of God before Moses went up to Mount Sinai? Okay. If that’s the case, then why does everyone refer to Joshua by that name throughout the film, even when Moses is still an Egyptian prince?

Joshua is Hebrew for “God is salvation” or “God is help.” Notice that word, God, at the start of his name. The first part of the name Joshua is short for Jehovah. But how could that possibly be? No one knew the name of God at that time! The name that people claimed not to know was hiding in plain sight. When the people speak Joshua’s name and then wonder out loud what God’s name is, it’s like saying, “I wonder who Thor Odinson’s father is.”

I’d like to note that this is a plot hole in the film, not a contradiction in the Holy Bible. Numbers 13:16 makes it clear that Joshua was originally named Hoshea (which means “Salvation”) until Moses renamed him Joshua as he sent him and 11 other spies into the land of Canaan. At that point, Moses had known the name of God for years, so it makes perfect sense for him to give Joshua that name.

Why Did They Do That?

Why did the filmmakers make such a huge gaffe? Probably to save time and avoid confusion. The movie is already close to 4 hours long, so it doesn’t have time to spare focusing on a side character’s name. And everyone knows the name Joshua from the Bible while few people would recognize the name Hoshea. It’s simpler to just call him by his eventual name, even if doing so opens up a huge can of worms they weren’t prepared to deal with.

By the way, Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua. I hope you had a happy Easter and that you enjoyed joining me in search of one last Easter egg.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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6 Responses to I Found the Mother of All Plot Holes in The Ten Commandments (1956)

  1. Lita says:

    Regarding names, I get seriously confused by all the different ways by which the same character can be known in War and Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Secret Weapon of ’80s Comedies: Elmer Bernstein | Deja Reviewer

  3. Jfrancer says:

    I know this is almost two years old but I have been searching for a copy of the original version of “The Ten Commandments” film and came upon this article. The part you mention in the film on Mount Sinai, they actually do say Jehovah’s name plus a few other scenes it is also mentioned. I read somewhere online a few years ago that some religious group had the name removed from the film for whatever reason but I had a VHS copy that has Jehovah’s name in it. I wish I never gave it away! As a kid I remember watching this movie every year on TV and it also had Jehovah’s name in it (this was the late 70’s) and what I enjoyed about it was that I got chills every time his name was mentioned. With all the movements to change history today it’s a shame that history will most likely be lost to the future. I do not appreciate when a film (or pretty much anything) regardless of others beliefs has been edited from it’s original because they don’t agree with it. Just as Mel Gibson was told not to use Jehovah’s name in Passion of the Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, I love the old VHS version that starts with an introduction by the director Cecil B. DeMille himself. The Ten Commandments is a beautiful product of its time, highlighting the conflict between freedom and oppression. A timeless message. I can respect that the name of God shouldn’t be used flippantly, but movies like this and The Passion of the Christ can hardly be said to be anything but respectful of the Lord.

      Like

      • Jfrancer says:

        Sorry, forgot to mention regarding my comment on The Passion that it was something I heard but didn’t find proof so may have been a rumor. Regarding the The Ten Commandments VHS version I’m referring to had the two VHS tapes stacked in the box one behind the other and not the Collector’s edition with the two tapes side by side in the box, this collection had God’s name edited out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yolanda Blunt says:

      Hello reader I would love to have that copy I would pay for a copy of that version. I’ve searched all over for it. I also remember that version as well. My email is yokie903@yahoo.com thanks

      Liked by 1 person

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