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    A new leader – Pinchas

    Moses appoints Joshua his successor, woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860

    Moses appoints Joshua his successor, woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860

    Moses knew he was getting old and could not lead the people forever. He asked “The Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, (to) set a man over the congregation” (Num. 27:16).

    There are three ways of handling the choice of a successor:

    1. The incumbent can find a candidate, mould and prepare him, and let the new man slip quietly into his shoes.

    The believers in heredity might have expected Moses to nominate one of his own sons, but Moses realised this would not have worked.

    2. He can decline to get involved and tell the people, “It’s up to you. Choose whom you will!”

    But this would not be fair because it would be sheer abdication.

    3. He can ask God to make the decision; the God “of the spirits of all mankind” surely knows who the best person is.

    Moses uses the third method.

    In choosing Joshua, God calls him “a man in whom there is ru’ach, spirit”. This is the same Hebrew word that Moses uses when he calls the Almighty the God “of the ruchot (spirits) of all mankind”.

    The new leader has to have the right spirit… but so do the congregation. Just as the leader must know how to read each situation and every individual, so must the people know how to read and appreciate the leader. They have to give the new man a fair go.

    He will and must not be a clone of his predecessor, but at the same time he must not ditch the established ways and customs simply because they are old.

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