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DIVINE VERSUS HUMAN LEADERSHIP: AN EXAMINATION OF JOSHUA'S SUCCESSION
Elie Assis (Bar-Ilan University, Israel)
In this paper we attempt to examine the topic of leadership as it is presented in the narratives of Joshua's succession. These narratives may contribute to a better understanding of this issue since Moses is Israel's first leader and a biblical role model. It is told that Moses led the Israelites during their formative years as a nation, taking them out of Egypt, and shepherding them during the wandering in the wilderness. Moses is presented in the Pentateuch as the one who shaped Israel's culture, ideology and beliefs as well as constituting a juridical system. It is, therefore, not surprising that the death of the great leader and the appointment of his successor are echoed repeatedly in the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. In this paper we will concentrate mainly on its first occurrence in Numbers 27:12-23, followed by an observation of Deuteronomy 31:1-8. In light of these examinations we will examine the ties between Moses and Joshua as they appear in the beginning of the Book of Joshua.
1. Moses' Succession: The Role of God and Moses
Numbers 27:12-23 contains two passages:
12-14—God's announcement to Moses regarding his death1 14-23—an appointment of Moses' successor
1 An expanded version of vv. 12-14 is repeated almost verbatim in Deuteronomy 32:48-52. Scholars agree that the two passages belong to P. Von Rad claims that the two passages are two independent variants, because they are not identical, see: G. von Rad, Deuteronomy, A Commentary (OTL, tr. D. Barton), London 1966, 201. But Noth is right that the agreement between the passages is so extensive, that this opinion must be completely rejected, see: M. Noth, The Chronicler's History (tr. H.G.M. Williamson, JSOTsup 50), Sheffield 1987, 178 n. 1. For the question which passage is the original and which is a redactive repetition, see: S.R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICC), Edinburgh 1895, 383; G.B. Gray, Numbers (ICC), Edinburgh 1903, 400. B.W. Bacon, The Triple Tradition of the Exodus, Hartford 1894, 239-240. According to Noth
Moses' death report shares many similarities with Aaron's death report, Num 20:23—29. They resemble one another in their theme, style and vocabulary. They both share a common structure, which consists of the same components. The following table illustrates these points:
the repetition of the announcement of Moses' death at the end of Deuteronomy is a result of the insertion of the great Deuteronomic material between God's announcement and the occasion of Moses' death. See: M. Noth, Numbers, A Commentary (OTL, tr. J.D. Martin), London 1968, 213. For the question why nonetheless Moses' death announcement was left in its original place in Num 27, out of the context of the actual death account, see: PJ. Budd, Numbers (WBC), Waco 1984, 306; J. Milgrom, Numbers (The JPS Torah Commentary), Philadelphia New York 1990, 233.
Numbers 27:12-23; Deuteronomy 34:1-7
Announcement and reason of death
Appointment of successor
Execution of appointment
23 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom,
24 "Let Aaron be gathered to his people. For he shall not enter the land that I have given to the Israelites, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah.
25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar, and bring them up Mount Hor;
26 strip Aaron of his vestments, and put them on his son Eleazar. But Aaron shall be gathered to his people, and shall die there."
27 Moses did as the Lord had commanded; they went up Mount
12 The Lord said to Moses, "Go up this mountain of the Abarim range, and see the land that I have given to the Israelites.
13 When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 because you rebelled against my word . . . These are the waters of Meribath . . .
15 Moses spoke to the Lord, saying. 16 "Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint someone over the congregation.
17 who shall go out before ... so that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd.".
18 So the Lord said to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand upon him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and commission him in their sight.
22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua
Numbers 27:12-23; Deuteronomy 34:1-7
Hor in the sight of the whole congregation. 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments, and put them on his son Eleazar;
and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation; 23 he laid his hands on him and commissioned him...
Actual death and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.
. . .5 Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord's command. 6 He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab...
29 When all the congregation saw that Aaron had died, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days.
The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.
The two death accounts share a similar form as indicated in the table above.2 In light of these similarities, one significant difference between the two accounts is conspicuous. God's command to Aaron regarding his death includes an order to transfer the priesthood to Aaron's son—Eleazar.3 This order contains specific instructions regarding the installation rite: stripping Aaron of his vestments and putting them onto the designated Priest. Contrary to this, God's announcement to Moses does not include an instruction to appoint a successor.4 It
2 See: T.R. Ashley, The Book of Numbers (NICOT), Grand Rapids 1993, 548.
3 The departing narrative of Elijah also includes an instruction to appoint Elisha as a replacement instead of Elijah, I Kings 19:15-16: 'Then the Lord said to him, Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place'.
4 In his commentary to Genesis, Coats identified the following typical components that characterize the death report: 1. A summary formula noting the total is Moses who initiates the appointment of a successor who will replace him, Numbers 27:15-17:
Moses spoke to the Lord, saying. "Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint someone over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd."
God's decision to appoint Joshua instead of Moses was in response to Moses' request. The obvious question is why God announced Aaron's successor while he refrained from appointing a successor to Moses?
This question stands out prominently through the structure of the seemingly ordinary verse: 'Moses spoke to the Lord, saying'. This sentence is formed in reverse to the very common verse in the Pentateuch: "And the Lord spoke to Moses". The use of a similar well known form in a reverse order conspicuously points out to what the reader expects at this point: God's instruction regarding a successor to Moses; instead he finds the opposite—Moses' appeal to God.5
Moreover, unlike Numbers 27, in parallel accounts of Moses' death in the Book of Deuteronomy there is an immediate reference to Joshua's appointment. Thus we find in Deut 1:37-28: 'Even with number of years in life. 2. A death notice. 3. A burial notice. 4. A notice of mourning. The Death Reports that Coats includes in this genre are: Sarah, 23:1-20 (pp. 163-166); Abraham, 25:7-11 (pp. 172-173); Ishmael, 25:17-18 (174-175); Deborah, 35:8 (p. 238); Rebecca, 35:16-20 (pp. 240-241); Isaac, 35:27-29 (pp. 245-247); Jacob, 47:28-50:14 (pp. 300-303); Joseph, 50:22-26 (pp. 313-315). G.W. Coats, Genesis with an Introduction to Narrative Literature (FOTL), Grand Rapids 1983; See also: J.J. Scullion, 'Literary Forms in Genesis', ABD vol. 2, New York 1992, 956-962, esp. 960. Ashley, The Book of Numbers, 548. In Abraham's case Coats identified another component: A notice of the deceased succession (p. 173). In fact, in most cases of Death Reports there is some kind of reference to the idea of continuation. After the report of Sarah's death and the search for a wife for Isaac, Rebecca is depicted as Sarah's substitute, 24:67: 'Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent ... So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death'. After the report of Isaac's death, chapter 36 enumerates Esau's descendants, while emphasizing repeatedly his residence in the land of Seir. Immediately, chapter 37 opens with Jacob descendants, and announces 'Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived . . . the land of Canaan'. The association of the succession with the death report emphasizes the absence of God's appointment of Moses' successor.
5 This matter was first recognized by the Midrash of Sifre Zuta on Numbers 27,15: '"Moses spoke to the Lord, saying"—In the entire Torah the phrase "And Moses spoke to the Lord, saying" is found only here. He said to Him: "Let me know if you are going to appoint someone in my place. . . ."
me the Lord was angry on your account, saying, "You also shall not enter there. Joshua son of Nun, your assistant, shall enter there; encourage him, for he is the one who will secure Israel's possession of it"'. 3:27-28: 'Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see'.
One explanation is that the purpose of this passage is to reveal Moses' virtue. He is concerned for the people's condition after his death and not about his own misfortune.6 Doubtlessly, Moses' act here is noble, but this answer does not resolve the question why God did not mention the appointment of a leader before Moses responded. As a matter of fact scholars usually ignored this question.7
The most reasonable explanation is that, in principle, God did not intend that a leader should be appointed after Moses' death. According to this conception, Moses, the first leader of Israel, took the people of Israel out of Egypt and was meant to lead them into the Promised Land without being succeeded by one single leader.8 Joshua's death report, in Josh 24, confirms this thesis. After Joshua's death is reported, there is no appointment of a leader to succeed him; thus God's original plan that there should not be any leader after Moses was postponed as a result of Moses' request, but realized after Joshua's death (Josh 24:29-30). The absence of a leader to succeed Joshua is conspicuous in comparison with Eleazar's death report in the same passage, which alludes to the transition of the
6 See, Sifre Numbers 138: 'This is to tell you the virtue of the righteous, that, when they depart from this world, they put aside their own needs and address the needs of the community'. This interpretation was adopted by Rashi, and is found also in: A.G. Butzer, The Book of Numbers (The Interpreters Bible), vol. 2, New York 1953, 272-274, in the exposition to the commentary; Ashley, Numbers, 550-551.
7 Noth, for instance, claims: 'The narrative of Joshua's installation as Moses' successor is remarkable in that the initiative is taken by Moses (v.15)'. Noth, Numbers, 214. Nevertheless, Noth does not attempt to explain this feature.
8 It is interesting to note that Von Rad's view is that according to source J, Moses was not very active and he was in the background while God was the actual leader. Moses' duty was very limited; it was to announce God's plan to Israel but not to act as the leader. In his opinion, this presentation is in accordance with the conception that Moses is not a leader at all; God is Israel's leader. See: G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, vol. 1, (tr. D.M.G. Stalker), Edinburgh & London 1962, 291-292. According to Von Rad, a different picture of Moses' office is given by E, see: pp. 292-293.
priesthood to his son Phinehas:9 'Eleazar son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of his son Phinehas, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim', Josh 24:33.10 Phinehas is, indeed, the priest serving in the period of the Judges (Jud. 20:28), and he is mentioned in the story of the altar built by the Transjordanian tribes (Josh 22). After Joshua's death, the people were left without a single central leader. Instead, the leadership was transmitted to the local elders of every tribe and clan. Our argument in this paper is that this system should have begun immediately after Moses' death, if according to plan he had entered the Land.
2. Analysis of Numbers 27: Moses' Request and Joshua's Appointment
Before exploring this idea, an examination of the content and style of Moses' request will reinforce the concept presented above. We shall begin with Moses' last sentence of his appeal to God, v. 17b:
so that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd
This statement has meaning only if Moses understood that God had no intention to appoint someone to replace him, and he is attempting to dissuade him from this plan.
The use of the metaphor 'sheep without a shepherd' is meant to illustrate the potentially disastrous result of God's plan.11 The metaphor of a shepherd looking after the sheep appears several times in the Bible to characterize a dedicated and ideal care of a leader. It might refer to human leadership (Ps 78:71-72) or divine leadership (Ps 23; 80:2; Isa 40:11). It is not surprising that God is presented as a shepherd in relation to the Exodus references (Ps 77:21; 78:52; Isa 63:11 ff.).
9 See: R.D. Nelson, Joshua, A Commentary (OTL), Louisville 1997, 280.
10 The text is not decisive in regard to who received the portion, Eleazar or Phinehas. The commentators dealt with the issue of a cohen receiving a portion here contrary to other places that explicitly exclude the priests from distribution of land. See: Y. Kaufman, The Book of Joshua, Jerusalem, 1959, 256; A.B. Ehrlich, Mikra ki-Pheshuto, vol. 2, 1900, 41-42.
11 For the use of the shepherd-flock imagery in the bible and extra-biblical sources, see: J.W. Vancil, 'Sheep, Shepherd', ABD, vol. 5, New York 1992, 1187-1190. For image of the king as a shepherd in the Near East, see: W. Zimmerli, Ezjkiel 2 (Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible) (tr. J.D. Martin), Philadelphia 1983, 213-214; M. Greenberg, Ezekiel 21-37 (AB), New York 1997, 707-708, and bibliography there.
The metaphor is employed in negative contexts as well. In the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the metaphor is applied to the rebuke of Israel's leaders who abused their position not only by abandoning their responsibilities towards their people, but also by exploiting them for their own benefit (e.g.: Jer 23:1-4; 25:34-35, Ezek 34; Zech 11:4-11). In these prophecies, God is pictured as a shepherd, who replaces the human leaders and gathers the sheep back to the land after they were scattered as a result of the shepherds' negligence.12 In light of the use of the shepherd—flock metaphor, the meaning of Moses' statement—'may not be like sheep without a shepherd'— is that refraining from appointing a leader to succeed him, will cause the dispersal of the people of Israel who will then fail to reach their destination. Moreover, perhaps Moses' use of this metaphor is an admonition against God, alluding that refraining from appointing a leader is God's failure to fulfill His duty as Israel's shepherd.
Moses addresses God with the rare appellation, v. 16:
the God of the spirits of all flesh
The exact meaning of this phrase is not clear,13 but a comparison with its only other appearance might clarify its meaning. After God decided to exterminate the people following Korah's rebellion, Aaron and Moses beg him to change His mind, Numbers 16:22: 'They fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one person sin and You become angry with the whole congregation?"'. A profound connection between these accounts may be asserted. Both cases are about a leadership crisis in relation to Moses' character.14 In the first, Korah asserted that Moses and Aaron assumed
12 According to Cooke, Ezekiel 37 pronounces an anti-monarchic view, picturing God as Israel's leader instead of human monarchs, presenting the replacement of monarchy by Theocracy. Cooke believes that this negative attitude came as a result of Israel's experience under the monarchical regime from the 8th century BCE See: G.A. Cooke, The Book of Ezekiel (ICC), Edinburgh 1936, 372 ff. For a different view, see: E. Hammershaimb, 'Ezekiel's View of the Monarchy', Studia Ioanni Pedersen ... Dicta, Hauniae 1953, 130-140 (esp. 136-138).
13 There are two general lines of interpretation: 1. The appeal here is to God's justice, thus, the meaning of the expression is—the God who knows all spirits can discern the sinner from the innocent (Rashi; Rashbam; J. Licht, A Commentary on the Book of Numbers, [XI—XXI], Jerusalem 1991, 143, Hebrew). 2. The appeal is to God's mercy. The explanation of the term is an acknowledgment of God's right to take the life that he gave, following this concept comes the appeal to God's mercy not to take the life of the innocent. See: A. Noordtzij, Numbers (tr. E. van der Mass, Bible Student's Commentary), Grand Rapids 1983, 149; Ashley, Numbers, 314.
14 See: Ashley, Numbers, 551.
authority to which they were not entitled. In fact, Korah's claim is that the people do not need a single leader at all because the entire nation is holy, and no individual should be singled out.15 Moses' argument in Numbers 27 is the opposite. His claim is that leaving the people without a leader will result in a crisis. On the one hand, in the Korah narrative, God sets Moses and Aaron apart from the people whom He intends to destroy, and apparently God plans to fulfill his promises through Moses and Aaron (Num 16:20, see also: Ex 32:10). On the other hand, in the narrative discussed here, God commands Moses to die, as his brother Aaron did, but the people will continue on to the Promised Land. Moses attempts to change God's decision in both cases, and he succeeds in both. In Korah's case, Moses and Aaron accuse God of injustice—'shall one person sin and you become angry with the whole congregation?'. Moses' argument, in Numbers 27 is that the execution of God's plan will be disastrous. Indirectly, however, his argument is similar to the one in the Korah episode: that the sin of one man (his own sin) should not affect the whole people. Thus Moses' request to appoint a leader, so that they would not remain without a shepherd, is parallel to his appeal that God should not punish the entire people because of Korah and his party. In both cases that the words 'the God of the spirits of all flesh' are employed, the possibility of the annihilation of the people is considered real.
Moses' actual request, vv. 16-17a is:
appoint someone over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in
Moses' office was never defined as such even though there were various titles in use at the time,16 such as: king (]1o), prince (K'ffin), minister and nagid (Tin).17 Accordingly, Moses' request does not
15 The nature of this narrative is composite. Many scholars have resolved the difficulties of this narrative by separating the different pentateuchal sources. See, for example: J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs, 1899, 102-106, 340-342. Though Liver agrees that the narrative is composite, he disputes the existence of different sources. Instead, he identifies various traditions. See: J. Liver, 'Korah, Datan and Aviram', in: Studies in Bible and Judean Desert Scrolls, Jerusalem 1971, 9-30 (Hebrew). For a summary of approaches, see: J. Licht, A Commentary on the Book of Numbers [XXII-XXXVI], Jerusalem 1995, 132-134 (Hebrew). Milgrom identifies four separate rebellions, see: Milgrom, Numbers, 414-423.
16 At the theophany of the burning bush he is assigned to deliver Israel from Egypt, but no office is specified. Exod 3:10: 'So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt'.
include a title for the office he wishes to pass on. Instead, he vaguely describes: 'appoint someone over the congregation'. Another term used to describe the office is 'who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in'. This term generally means to 'manage' or it might apply specifically to military leadership.18 Yet the avoidance of using a title for the post of Moses and his successor is significant. Perhaps, refraining from using a fixed title is meant to avoid the possibility of institu-tionalization of that position.
What may be the explanation for God's initial reservation to appoint a successor to Moses?
The conception behind this is that Israel's exclusive leader is God himself. The ideology is that God is sovereign over the world, and placing a single human leader at the head of the nation diminishes God's sovereignty. This idea resembles the concept of 'The Kingdom of Heaven' that prevails in some Biblical passages, especially in anti-monarchic statements that contrast human kingship to divine kingship. The idea in Numbers 27:12-23 is radical. According to this passage, no human may interpose between God and His people, for God is their exclusive leader.
Moses was an exception because he was Israel's first leader and at the outset it was necessary to make the initial connection between God and Israel. Indeed, at the beginning of the Exodus narrative we find that the duty of Moses was not merely to show Pharaoh God's mighty hand, but to present the people of Israel with God's intention of redeeming them.19
17 It is therefore not surprising to find a range of biblical depiction and scholarly opinion as to the definition of Moses' role: He has been described as a king, a prophet, a teacher and a scribe, a judge and a priest. See: J.W. Watts, 'The Legal Characterization of Moses in the Rhetoric of the Pentateuch', JBL 117 (1998), 415-426. E. Auerbach, Moses (tr. R.A. Barcley & I.O. Lehman), Detroit 1975, 90-93; S.E. Loewenstamm, 'Moses', Encyclopaedia Biblica, vol. 5, Jerusalem 1968, cols 482-495 (Hebrew). See also: B.S Childs, Exodus, A Commentary (OTL), Philadelphia 1974, 353-359.
18 See: J.H. Tigay, Deuteronomy (The JPS Torah Commentary), Philadelphia— Jerusalem 1996, 259; Gray, Numbers, 400-401. Gray is inclined to interpret the term as: 'an idiomatic way of expressing activity in general by reference to its commencement and conclusion'. This interpretation is applied to Moses' words as a request that 'his successor may initiate all undertakings of the people and see them through'.
19 See: U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus (tr. I. Abrahams), Jerusalem
Numbers 27:12-23, contains two voices. God's initial reservation against appointing a leader represents an ideological aspect of the concept of leadership, while the words of Moses represent a practical aspect. The ideal is compromised in favor of the practical need for a human leader. Indeed, the argument of Moses as presented in the passage is not a conceptual one, but a practical one: 'so that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd'.
3. Joshua's Appointment
If this idea is accepted, the uniqueness of the rite of Joshua's installation in Numbers 27:15-23 is understood. The most common rite of appointment is the anointment of the designated candidate.20 This rite is found in the appointment of kings (2 Sam 2:4-7; 5:4; 19:10; 1 Kgs 1:34,45; 2 Kgs 11:12)21 and priests (Ex. 29:7; 40:13-15; Lev 8:12, 30).22 Other rites include the enthronement,23 coronation24 and the transfer of vestments. One of the rites in the installation of Aaron and the other priests was the donning of the priestly garments (Exod 29:5-6, 8-9, 29-30; 40:12-14; Lev 8:7-9, 13). In Numbers 20, the
1967, 40-42; Noth M., Exodus, A Commentary (OTL, tr. J.S. Bowden), Philadelphia 1962, 40-41.
20 For the meaning of this act, see: Noth, 'Office and Vocation in the Old Testament', in: The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Studies (tr. D.R. Ap-Thomas), Philadelphia 1966, 229-249 (esp. 239-240). Noth claims that according to the ancients, oil contained vital energy, and thus the anointed person was given permanent additional vital energy.
21 For the installation of a king, See: R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel; Its Life and Institutions (tr. J. McHugh), London 1965, 100-107.
22 For the appointment of the priest, see: de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 346-348. For the origin of the act of anointing a king and its application to the high priesthood, see: Noth, 'Office and Vocation in the Old Testament', 237-238. In some Biblical passages, it appears that even prophets were anointed, see: 1 Kgs 19:16; Isa 61:1. It is very unlikely that Elisha was anointed since the transition of the prophetic office stands in sharp contrast to the essence of Biblical prophecy. Indeed, except for this case, there is no other example of a prophet appointing another. See J. Gray, I & II Kings, A Commentary (OTL), London 1970, 411. For Elisha's appointment by Elijah, see: R.P. Carroll, 'The Elijah-Elisha Sagas: Some Remarks on Prophetic Succession in Ancient Israel', VT 19 (1969) 400-415. In Isaiah 60:1 the word 'anointed' does not mean to anoint the body, but rather 'to give authorization'. See: C. Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, A Commentary (OTL, tr. D.M.G. Stalker), London 1969, 365-366.
23 Similarly the act of a new king sitting on the throne meant that he was invested as a king. See: de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 106-107.
24 See: de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 103.
transfer of Aaron's garments and the dressing of his son Eleazar with them, meant that Eleazar was installed into the office in place of his father.25
Unlike these rites, Joshua's installation was enacted by Moses laying his hands over him. The probable meaning of this rite, is that something is transferred from the one that lays his hands onto somebody else.26 This clarifies the basic difference between the analogous appointments of Eleazar and Joshua. Eleazar occupies an officially recognized and definite post, thus the installation rite of Eleazer into the priestly position is symbolized by wearing the special priestly garments. However, Moses did not transfer any post, because he did not hold a definite one. Moses did not transfer an office but rather his authority (Num 27:20: 'You shall give him some of your authority'). Taking into account the meaning of the rite of laying hands, he transferred part of his personality. In order not to institutionalize the position of an individual standing at the head of the nation, Joshua did not obtain a title, and even the rite of appointment does not resemble a fixed one. Rather, through the rite of laying hands
25 Another possible case might be the appointment of Elisha in place of Elijah (I Kings 19:19-21; 2 Kings 2:1-18). Some view the casting of the mantle as a symbolic act of installation, see: R. Kittel, Die Bücher der Könige (HKAT), Göttingen 1900, 155. J.A. Montgomery, The Book of Kings (ICC), Edinburgh 1951, 315-316. Some scholars view the casting of the mantle upon the chosen successor as magical rite that possesses the power of its owner, see: J. Gray, I & II Kings, A Commentary (OTL), London 1970, 413. Z. Weisman, 'Elijah's Mantle and Consecration of Elisha', Shnaton: An Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies 2 (1977), 93-99 (Hebrew). G.H. Jones, 1 and 2 Kings (NCB), vol 2, Grand Rapids-London 1984, 336.
26 See: J. Licht, 'Semikhah', Encyclopaedia Biblica, vol. 5, Jerusalem 1968, cols 1052-1055 (Hebrew). For instance by laying his hands on the goat Aaron transfers onto it the sins of Israel, Leviticus 16:21. From this case Licht derives that in all cases of expiatory sacrifices laying hands means transference of the guilt. Licht presents another variation to explain this act. The one whom the hands were laid over is identified with the person who laid his hands, and he, in turn, becomes his emissary, his substitute. Such is the case of the first born laying their hands over the Levites thereby becoming their substitutes, Numbers 8:10. Licht claims that this explanation may be applied to the sacrifices as well. Every sacrifice may be seen as a substitute of the person who presents the offering. Péter distinguished between laying over one hand in sacrifices indicating that he who presents the offering identifies himself as its owner. Laying two hands implies transition of power and authority. See: R. Péter, 'L'imposition des mains dans L'Ancien Testament', VT 37 (1977) 48-55. Wright accepts this conclusion and demonstrates a similar gesture among the Hittites, see: D. Wright, 'The Gesture of Hand Placement in the Hebrew Bible and in the Hittite Literature', JAOS 106 (1986) 433-446. See also: M. Paran, 'Two Types of "Laying Hands Upon" in the Priestly Source', Beer Sheva 2 (1995) 115-119 (Hebrew).
he is designated as the successor to Moses. This also explains the choice of Joshua as Moses' successor. Joshua is known as Moses' servant who was very close to his master (Exod 33:11). The intimacy between Joshua and Moses indicates that the appointment of Joshua is not the beginning of a new regime. The presentation of Joshua as a second Moses serves to bridge between the ideological reservation against appointing a leader after Moses and the practical need for one.
It is also possible to understand a difficulty in Deuteronomy 31:1-6 in light of the interpretation presented in this paper. Before his death, it is reported that Moses said to Israel the following, vv. 2-3:
I am now one hundred twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the Lord has told me, you shall not cross over this Jordan.
The Lord your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them.
Joshua himself will cross over before you, as the Lord promised.
The three verses use the phrase 'cross over'. After Moses declares that he will not cross over to the land, in the next sentence he says that God will cross over before Israel. The use of this verb with reference to God is not unusual in the Bible, but the difficulty is that the use of this verb here immediately after its use with regard to Moses not bringing Israel into the Land gives the impression that God is the substitute of Moses. This difficulty is enhanced in the third sentence that presents Joshua as Israel's leader, using again the same verb—'cross over before you', that is attributed in the previous sentence to God's leadership.
Some scholars have ignored these difficulties. Tur-Sinai, however, proposes to omit the words 'himself will cross over before you' in the second sentence, and to add the conjunction waw before the word 'Joshua'. The emended version then is: 'God will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. And Joshua himself will cross over before you'.27 Craigie's interpretation is like that
27 N.H. Tur-Sinai, Pshuto Shel Mikra, vol. 1, Jerusalem 1967, 219.
of Tur-Sinai but without the emendation of the text. According to his interpretation God and Joshua together will cross over before Israel.28 According to this explanation, Joshua is Moses' substitute and the reference to God is in accordance with the concept of the Holy War that God fights for His people.
Rofé argues that v. 3b is the natural sequence to v. 2, because v. 3a vitiates the contrast between Moses who cannot cross the Jordan and Joshua who will take Moses' place. Moreover, there is no logic in substituting God for Moses because God participated in Israel's wars in the days both of Moses and Joshua. Rofé concludes that v. 3a should be omitted, and since vv. 4-6 are in sequence to 3a they should be omitted too.29 Because all other versions support the MT, Rofé assumes that the expansion of the text was made at a very early date. The original text according to Rofé was vv. 1-2, 3b, 7-8. In order to emphasize the marvelous assistance of God in the conquest of the Land verses 3a, 4-6 were added.
A different solution may be suggested in light of our interpretation of Numbers 27:12-23. If this interpretation is accepted, the meaning of Deuteronomy 31: 3a might be that, indeed, God is Moses' substitute, and that he was actually supposed to lead Israel across the Jordan. This corresponds with the idealistic idea expressed by God's avoidance to appoint a leader in Num 27. Verse 3b expresses the practical solution that a human leader is necessary and corresponds with Moses' request to appoint a human leader.30
28 P.C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy (NICOT), Grand Rapids 1976, 369. See: D.Z. Hoffmann, Sefer Devarim, Tel-Aviv 1959, 659. This is in fact the understanding of the NRSV translation 'Joshua also himself will cross over before you, as the Lord promised'.
29 A. Rofe, Introduction to Deuteronomy, Jerusalem 1988, 208; G.A. Smith, The Book of Deuteronomy (CBSC), Cambridge 1918, 333; W.L. Moran, 'Deuteronomy', in: B. Orchard, et al. (ed.), A New Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scripture London 1969, 257; J.D. Levenson, 'Who Inserted the Book of Torah?', Harvard Theological Review 68 (1975) 203-221, esp. 209. However, Von Rad thinks that verses 3-6 are a later amplification and that originally Joshua's appointment in v. 7 followed v. 2, but he does not offer arguments for this hypothesis (von Rad, Deuteronomy, 188). Elsewhere, he points out that Deut 31:3-6, 7-8 describes God as a warrior who destroys Israel's enemies and this is the typical Holy War concept. In this context, he views only v. 3b as a late insertion. See: G. von Rad, Studies in Deuteronomy (Studies in Biblical Theology, tr. D. Stalker), London 1953, 56. See also: M. Noth, The Deuteronomistic History (jSOTsup, 15), Sheffield 19912, 59 n. 2.
30 The ideological association between Num 27:12-23 and Deut 31 that we have pointed out in this paper is supported by Lohfink's observation that the Pg text of Num 27:12-23 is dependent on the text of DtrL (= the major part of Deuteronomy
There are other implications of this thesis in the Book of Joshua. As we have seen above, after Joshua's death, a leader was not appointed. The request of Moses included a limited extension of his leadership, in order to complete the challenging task of the conquest of the Land and its distribution. This extension ended with Joshua's death. At that moment the conception of Israel without a human leader was realized for the first time.31
5. Joshua's Leadership Compared to Moses' Leadership
Scholars have pointed out that Joshua is presented as a reflection of Moses.32 Joshua is explicitly compared to Moses several times in the Book ofJoshua,33 and also described as implementing Moses' instructions.34 Many of Joshua's actions resemble actions of Moses.35 We
1 to Joshua 22 which Lohfink defines as a deuteronomistic narrative of the occupation of the Land, see p. 187) in Deut 31. Lohfink based this conclusion on linguistic arguments: Moses explains Joshua's installation because of his incapacity to lead the people due to his old age, Deut 31:2: 'he said to them: "I am now one hundred twenty years old. I am no longer able to go out and come in'". Similar words are used by Moses in Num 27:16-17: 'Let the Lord . . . appoint someone over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in'. See: N. Lohfink, 'The Strata of the Pentateuch and the Question of War', in: Theology of the Pentateuch; Themes of the Priestly Narrative and Deuteronomy (tr. L.M. Maloney), Minneapolis 1994, 197-198.
31 This idea is expressed by Buber: 'The Hebrew leaders are so much in earnest about it that after the land has been conquered they undertake to do what is "contrary to history": they try to build a society without a ruling power save only that of God. It is that experiment in primitive theocracy of which the Book of Judges tells, and which degenerates into anarchy, as is shown by examples given in its last part'. See: M. Buber, 'Biblical Leadership', On the Bible, New York 1982, 146.
32 See: M.Z. Segal, Mavo Lamiqra, vol 1, Jerusalem 1960, 157; J. Porter, "The Succession of Joshua", in: J. Durham & J. Porter (eds), Proclamation and Presence, Richmond 1970, 102-132; L. Mazor, The Septuagint Translation of the Book of Joshua; Its Contribution to the Understanding of the Textual Transmission of the Book and its Literary and Ideological Development, unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1994, 230, 456 and n. 36 (Hebrew). S. Ahituv, Joshua (Mikra Leyisrael), Tel-Aviv—Jerusalem 1995, 37-39 (Hebrew); Nelson, Joshua, 21-22; D. Or, Moses and His Time in Biblical Literature, unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1977, 151 ff.
33 See e.g.: Josh 1:5: 'As I was with Moses, so I will be with you'; See also: 1:17; 3:7, 14. Joshua is called 'The servant of the Lord' at the end of the Book (24:29), similar to Moses' title at the beginning of the Book (1:1).
34 See: Josh 1:7-8; 4:10; 8:35; 11:15; 14:2, 5; 20:1-9.
35 The spy narratives (Num 13, Josh 2); the crossing of the sea of Reeds and the Jordan river (Exod 14, Josh 3-4); the celebration of Passover (Exod 12; Josh 5:10); Moses at the burning bush and Joshua's encounter with the commander of have also demonstrated elsewhere this concept in the structure of Joshua 1-5. There it was shown that every story in chapters 1-5 has a parallel in the Pentateuch, but that they are arranged in a reversed order to that of the parallels in the Pentateuch.36 The following table demonstrates this structure:
Parallels in the Pentateuch
1:1 After the death of
Moses the servant of God
Deut 34:5 The death of Moses the Servant of God
1:1-9 After Moses' death God encourages Joshua, commands him to enter the Land, and assures him that he will be with him
Deut Before his death Moses
31:1-7 encourages the people, assures them that God will be with them, that Joshua will bring them into the Land
1:12-18 Joshua asks the
Transjordanian tribes to keep their promise to Moses to go before the people and to help them to conquer the land. They then respond.
2 Joshua sent spies to
Num 32 Moses accepts the request those who wished to settle in the Transjordan on the condition that they would go before the people and help them to conquer the land. They consent.
Num Moses sent spies to
God (Exod 3:2-5; Josh 5:13-15). For these parallels, see: E. Assis, The Literary Structure of the Conquest Narrative in the Book of Joshua (Chs 1-11) and its Meaning, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 1999, 36-39, 163-164, 184-186, 188-191. See there for detailed bibliography on these issues. Joshua lifted his sword towards Ai and Moses lifted his arms up in the battle against Amalek (Exod 17:11; Josh 8:18, 26). Moses conquers the Land east of the Jordan (Josh 12:1-6), and Joshua conquers the Land west of the Jordan (Josh 12:7-24). Both Moses and Joshua distributed the Land: Moses the east of the Jordan (Josh 13) and Joshua the west of the Jordan (Josh 14-19). Like Moses, Joshua addresses the people before his death ( Josh 23). They both made a statute and an ordinance (Exod 15:25; Josh 24:25).
36 Assis, The Literary Structure of the Conquest Narrative in the Book of Joshua (Chs 1-11) and its Meaning, 30 ff.
Parallels in the Pentateuch
3-5:1 The crossing of the Exod 14 Jordan River
5: 2-12 Circumcision and Exod 12 Passover
The crossing of the Sea of
5:13-15 Joshua's theophany Exod 3:1 ff at Jericho, and the instruction of the commander of God's army: 'Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy'
Moses and the theophany at the burning bush, and God's instruction: 'Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground'
This mirror structure constitutes a literary continuation between the Book of Joshua and the previous books of the Pentateuch. It also contributes to the characterization ofJoshua as a reflection of Moses, especially proclaiming the continuity of the relationship between God and His leaders. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to reconstruct Joshua's character, even though he is present in the whole book of Joshua, and in fact, he is the only character portrayed across the entire book. It seems that the author deliberately did not disclose adequate information regarding his personality, so that the only conclusion the reader may reach regarding his character is his resemblance to Moses.
It is our view that the presentation of Joshua as a reflection of Moses is an attempt to resolve the psychological and spiritual problem that the nation faced with the traumatic death of Moses, the veteran leader upon whom they were dependent.37 The new leader was no more than an extension of the old one.
Our main thesis is that the fusion of both leaderships stems from a fundamental religious concept according to which no one but God
37 See Assis, The Literary Structure of the Conquest Narrative in the Book of Joshua (Chs 1-11) and its Meaning, 42-43.
is Israel's leader. As explained above, the leadership of Moses was exceptional, and that of Joshua, as we have just shown was an integral part of it.
Joshua did not appoint a leader to replace him, and the elders governed the people after his death. Reviv claimed that the elders were chosen by active members of the people, apparently by military participants.38 Others think that the elders included all free males.39 Whatever the actual method of electing the elders, it is reasonable to view governmental system as a sort of primitive democracy, and the conception on which the system was based was that the people possessed complete sovereignty.40 The leadership of the elders, who represented the whole mass of individuals, prevented any single individual from attaining a position of too much prominence, and maintained a balance between different power groups in society. Above the individuals of the group there was only one incontrovertible leader—the God of Israel.
This conception appears again in the Bible in relation to the establishment of the monarchy in ancient Israel, but eventually the practical need for a central human leader prevailed. God's sovereignty as expressed in the narrative of Joshua's succession, is again uttered in the clear declaration of Gideon: 'I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you' (Judg 8:23).41
38 H. Reviv, From Clan to Monarchy; Israel in Biblical Period3, Jerusalem 1990, 70-71 (Hebrew).
39 C.U. Wolf, 'Traces of Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel', JNES 6 (1947) 98-108.
40 H.M. Orlinsky, Ancient Israel, Ithaca 1954, 13-14. See also: M. Buber, 'Leadership in the Bible, in: Darko shel Mikra, Jerusalem 1978, 130 f. Wolf, 'Traces of Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel', 98-108.
41 For the idea of the 'Kingdom of God' and its date, see e.g.: O. Eissfeldt, 'Jahwe als König', ZAW 46 (1928) 81-105; M. Buber, Kingship of God (tr. R. Scheimann), London 1967. The tendency in recent research is to view the concept of God's kingship as pre-monarchic. See: J. Gray, 'The Hebrew Conception of the Kingship of God: its Origin and Development', VT 6 (1956) 268-285; T. Ishida, The Royal Dynasties in Ancient Israel; A Study on the Formation and Development of Royal-Dynastic Ideology (BZAW, 142), Berlin-New York 1977, 38-39. Scholars have convincingly proven that Samuel's Manner of the King (1 Sam 8:11-17) is a testimony of the period it describes—eve of the foundation of Israelite Monarchy, see e.g. S. Talmon, '"The Rule of the King"—I Samuel 8:4-22', in: King, Cult and Calendar in Ancient Israel, Jerusalem 1986, 53-67.
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