Numbers 27:18
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;
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(18) In whom is the spirit . . . —The definite article is not used in the original. The word translated “spirit” appears to denote spiritual endowment and qualifications.

And lay thine hand upon him.—It is to be observed that the spiritual qualifications of Joshua did not supersede the necessity of an outward consecration to his office. Nay, more; it seems that special qualifications for the office were bestowed in connection with the imposition of the hands of Moses, for it is written in Deuteronomy 34:9 that “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him.”

Numbers 27:18. In whom is the spirit — Or spiritual endowments from the Holy Ghost; for it is by the influence of the Spirit of God that all good gifts are communicated to the sons of men. It particularly means here, the spirit of wisdom, courage, and the fear of God, with other gifts necessary for a well-qualified governor. Hence Joshua is said to have been full of the spirit of wisdom, Deuteronomy 34:9. Lay thy hand upon him — By which ceremony Moses did both design the person and confer the power, and by his prayers, which accompanied that rite, obtain from God all the spiritual gifts and graces necessary for his future employment.

27:15-23 Envious spirits do not love their successors; but Moses was not one of these. We should concern ourselves, both in our prayers and in our endeavours, for the rising generation, that religion may be maintained and advanced, when we are in our graves. God appoints a successor, even Joshua; who had signalized himself by his courage in fighting Amalek, his humility in ministering to Moses, and his faith and sincerity in witnessing against the report of the evil spies. This man God appoints to succeed Moses; a man in whom is the Spirit, the Spirit of grace. He is a good man, fearing God and hating covetousness, and acting from principle. He has the spirit of government; he is fit to do the work and discharge the trusts of his place. He has a spirit of conduct and courage; he had also the Spirit of prophecy. That man is not fully qualified for any service in the church of Christ, who is destitute of the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit, whatever human abilities he may possess. And in Joshua's succession we are reminded that the law was given by Moses, who by reason of our transgression could not bring us to heaven; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, for the salvation of every believer.In whom is the spirit Compare Genesis 41:38. Joshua was endowed by God with the requisite spiritual qualifications for the office. Moses howerer, was to lay his hands upon him, both in order to confer formal and public appointment, and also (compare Deuteronomy 34:9) to confirm and strengthen the spiritual gifts already bestowed. The previous reception of the inner grace did not dispense with that of the outward sign; compare the case of Cornelius Acts 10:44-48; and Paul's baptism after his miraculous conversion Acts 9:18. Nu 27:18-23. Joshua Appointed to Succeed Him.

18. Take thee Joshua … a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him—A strong testimony is here borne to the personality of the divine Spirit—the imposition of hands was an ancient ceremony. (See Ge 48:14; Le 1:4; 1Ti 4:14).

The spirit; the spirit of government, of wisdom, and of the fear of the Lord, &c.

Lay thine hand upon him; by which ceremony Moses did both design the person and confer the power, and by his prayers, which accompanied that rite, obtain from God all the spiritual gifts and graces necessary for his future employment, as appears from Deu 34:9. See of this custom Genesis 48:14 Leviticus 1:4 Numbers 8:10 1 Timothy 4:14.

And the Lord said unto Moses,.... In answer to his request:

take thou Joshua the son of Nun, who had been a servant of his near forty years, and of whose humility, diligence, faithfulness and integrity he had sufficient proof, as well as of his skill and courage in military affairs, particularly at the battle with Amalek, Exodus 17:9,

a man in whom is the Spirit: not only in whom is a spirit or soul, which is in every man; but the Spirit of God, and that not only as a spirit of grace and sanctification, which is in every good man; but as a spirit of prophecy, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; or rather it respects the more than ordinary gifts of the Spirit qualifying him for government, as courage and conduct, wisdom, prudence, and greatness of mind:

and lay thine hand upon him; thereby transferring the government to him, pointing him out to the people as his successor; to show to the children of Israel that he was in his place, as Aben Ezra notes; upon which followed a larger measure of the gifts of the Spirit of God; see Deuteronomy 34:9.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and {f} lay thine hand upon him;

(f) And so appoint him governor.

18. a man in whom is (om. ‘the’) spirit] An influence proceeding from God already dwells in him. This was not the frenzied spirit of prophecy (Numbers 11:25 f.) but as in Deuteronomy 34:9 ‘the spirit of wisdom,’ prudence, capacity.

and lay thine hand upon him] This action has more than one significance in the O.T. For the meaning in Numbers 8:10 see note there. In Genesis 48:14 it accompanies a solemn blessing; here it symbolizes the handing on of Moses’ office to Joshua. In later Jewish times it was employed in admitting a person to the position of Rabbi. And in the Christian Church it remains to this day as the apostolic rite of ordination (cf. Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 3:14; 2 Timothy 1:6), in which all three meanings—blessing, succession to office, and authority to teach—are combined.

Verse 18. - Take thee Joshua. Joshua was now for the first time designated at the request of Moses as his successor; he had, however, been clearly marked out for that office by his position as one of the two favoured survivors of the elder generation, and as the "minister" and confidant of Moses. In regard of the first he had no equal but Caleb, in regard of the second he stood quite alone. A man in whom is the spirit. רוּחַ here, although without the definite article, can only mean the Holy Spirit, as in Numbers 11:25 sq. Lay thine hand upon him. According to Deuteronomy 34:9 this was to be done in order that Joshua might receive with the imposition of hands a spiritual gift (charisma) of wisdom for the discharge of his high office. It would appear also from the next paragraph that it was done as an outward and public token of the committal of authority to Joshua as the successor of Moses. Numbers 27:18The Lord then appointed Joshua to this office as a man "who had spirit." רוּה (spirit) does not mean "insight and wisdom" (Knobel), but the higher power inspired by God into the soul, which quickens the moral and religious life, and determines its development; in this case, therefore, it was the spiritual endowment requisite for the office he was called to fill. Moses was to consecrate him for entering upon this office by the laying on of hands, or, as is more fully explained in Numbers 27:19 and Numbers 27:20, he was to set him before Eleazar the high priest and the congregation, to command (צוּה) him, i.e., instruct him with regard to his office before their eyes, and to lay of his eminence (הוד) upon him, i.e., to transfer a portion of his own dignity and majesty to him by the imposition of hands, that the whole congregation might hearken to him, or trust to his guidance. The object to ישׁמעוּ (hearken) must be supplied from the context, viz., אליו (to him), as Deuteronomy 34:9 clearly shows. The מן (of) in Numbers 27:20 is partitive, as in Genesis 4:4, etc. The eminence and authority of Moses were not to be entirely transferred to Joshua, for they were bound up with his own person alone (cf. Numbers 12:6-8), but only so much of it as he needed for the discharge of the duties of his office. Joshua was to be neither the lawgiver nor the absolute governor of Israel, but to be placed under the judgment of the Urim, with which Eleazar was entrusted, so far as the supreme decision of the affairs of Israel was concerned. This is the meaning of Numbers 27:21 : "Eleazar shall ask to him (for him) the judgment of the Urim before Jehovah." Urim is an abbreviation for Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30), and denotes the means with which the high priest was entrusted of ascertaining the divine will and counsel in all the important business of the congregation. "After his mouth" (i.e., according to the decision of the high priest, by virtue of the right of Urim and Thummim entrusted to him), Joshua and the whole congregation were to go out and in, i.e., to regulate their conduct and decide upon their undertakings. "All the congregation," in distinction from 'all the children of Israel," denotes the whole body of heads of the people, or the college of elders, which represented the congregation and administered its affairs.
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