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Numbers 27:18-23


27:18 The Lord replied 1  to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is such a spirit, 2  and lay your hand on him; 3  27:19 set him 4  before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission 5  him publicly. 6  27:20 Then you must delegate 7  some of your authority 8  to him, so that the whole community of the Israelites will be obedient. 9  27:21 And he will stand before Eleazar the priest, who 10  will seek counsel 11  for him before the Lord by the decision of the Urim. 12  At his command 13  they will go out, and at his command they will come in, he and all the Israelites with him, the whole community.”

27:22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him; he took Joshua and set 14  him before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community. 27:23 He laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord commanded, 15  by the authority 16  of Moses.

1 tn Or “said.”

2 sn The word “spirit” probably refers to the Holy Spirit, in which case it would be rendered “in whom is the Spirit.” This would likely be a permanent endowment for Joshua. But it is also possible to take it to refer to a proper spirit to do all the things required of such a leader (which ultimately is a gift from the Spirit of God). The Hebrew text simply says “in whom is a spirit.”

3 sn This symbolic act would indicate the transfer of leadership to Joshua.

4 tn This could be translated “position him,” or “have him stand,” since it is the causative stem of the verb “to stand.”

5 tn The verb is the Piel perfect of צִוָּה (tsivvah, literally “to command”). The verb has a wide range of meanings, and so here in this context the idea of instructing gives way to a more general sense of commissioning for duty. The verb in sequence is equal to the imperfect of instruction.

6 tn Heb “in their eyes.”

7 tn The verb is simply “give,” but in this context giving some of Moses’ honor to Joshua in the presence of the people is essentially passing the leadership to him, or delegating the authority to him with the result that people would follow him.

8 tc The Greek, Syriac, and Vulgate read “glory” for this form that occurs only here in the Pentateuch. Elsewhere it is rendered “majesty, splendor” (see Ps 96:6). It could even be “vitality” here. The authority being transferred here is both spiritual and civil.

9 tn Heb “hear.”

10 tn The passage simply has “and he will ask,” but Eleazar is clearly the subject now.

11 tn Heb “ask.”

12 sn The new leader would not have the privilege that Moses had in speaking to God face to face. Rather, he would have to inquire of the Lord through the priest, and the priest would seek a decision by means of the Urim. The Urim and the Thummim were the sacred lots that the priest had in his pouch, the “breastplate” as it has traditionally been called. Since the Law had now been fully established, there would be fewer cases that the leader would need further rulings. Now it would simply be seeking the Lord’s word for matters such as whether to advance or not. The size, shape or substance of these objects is uncertain. See further C. Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim.

13 tn Heb “mouth,” meaning what he will say.

14 tn Heb “stood.”

15 tn Heb “spoke.”

16 tn Heb “hand.”

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