Pinchas: “Spirit” in Joshua

And the LORD answered Moses, “Single out Joshua son of Nun, an inspired man, and lay your hand upon him.  (Num 27:18)

Joshua is designated by God as being qualified for leader ship because he is ” an inspired man,” lit., ” a man in whom there is spirit.”  In one sense, “there is spirit” in all people, in all animals, as the previous verse reminded us.  Clearly, a different sense is intended here.

In contemporary parlance, if we say that a person “is soulful” or “has soul,” it is not because others lack souls, but because that person has found a way to tap and express what can often be only latent or hidden.  Joshua draws on spirit, manifests spirit.

In what way does Joshua manifest spirit?  Some interpreters say through wisdom, others say through prophecy, others say through skill.   But spirit can also refer to courage (Joshua 2:11, 5:1).  This is exactly the quality God calls on when he exhorts Joshua after Moses’ death, “be strong and courageous.”  It is a quality Joshua has already demonstrated in the scout episode, where he stood up for God and Moses against a multitude, for which he was nearly stoned (Num 14:6-10).

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