Israeli Leadership – Joshua’s Appointmet

Rashi’s Commentary




15.  Moses spoke to the Lord….  This [verse comes] to let us know the virtues of the righteous, for when they are about to depart from the world, they disregard their own needs and occupy themselves with the needs of the community. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23] saying.  He said to Him, “Answer me whether You are appointing a leader for them or not.” - [Sifrei Pinchas 23]


16.  Let the Lord… appoint.  When Moses heard that the Omnipresent told him to give Zelophehad’s inheritance to his daughters, he said, “It is time to ask for my own needs-that my son should inherit my high position.” The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, That is not My intention, for Joshua deserves to be rewarded for his service, for he “would not depart from the tent” (Exod. 33:11). This is what Solomon meant when he said, “He who guards the fig tree eats its fruit” (Prov. 27:18). - [Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 11] God of the spirits. Why is this said? He said to Him, “Master of the universe, the character of each person is revealed to you, and no two are alike. Appoint over them a leader who will tolerate each person according to his individual character.”- [Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 10]


17.  who will go forth before them.  Not like the kings of the [gentile] nations, who sit at home and send their armies to war, but as I did, for I fought against Sihon and Og, as it says, “Do not fear him” (21:34), and as Joshua did, as it says, “Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you for us [or for our enemies]?” (Josh. 5:13). Similarly, concerning David it says, “For he went forth and came in before them” (I Sam. 18:16)-he went out [to battle] at their head and came in before them. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23] who will lead them out.  through his merits. - [Sifrei Pinchas 23] and bring them in. through his merits. - [Sifrei Pinchas 23] Another interpretation: “Who will bring them in” [means] that You should not do to him as You did to me, for I may not bring them into the Land. — [Num. Rabbah 21:15]


18.  Take for yourself.  Encourage him verbally, [and say,] “Fortunate are you that you have merited to lead the children of the Omnipresent!” - [Sifrei Pinchas 23 on verse 22] for yourself.  Someone verified by you, someone you know. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23] a man of spirit.  As you requested; someone able to deal with the character of each one. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23] and you shall lay your hand upon him.  Provide him with an announcer so that he can expound [halachic discourses] during your lifetime, so they should not say about him that he dared not raise his head in the days of Moses. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23]


19.  and you shall command him.  Concerning Israel; be aware that they are troublesome and obstinate. [You accept office] on condition that you take upon yourself [all this]. - [See Sifrei Beha’alothecha 42]


20.  You shall bestow some of your majesty upon him.  This refers to the radiance of the skin of his face (see Exod. 34:29). some of your majesty.  But not all of your majesty. Thus, we learn that the face of Moses was [radiant] like the sun, whereas the face of Joshua was like the moon. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23, b.b. 75a] so that all the congregation of the children of Israel will take heed.  [meaning] that they will behave toward him with reverence and awe, just as they behaved toward you.


21.  He shall stand before Eleazar the priest. Here is [the response to] the request that you made [that your children should inherit you]; this honor shall not depart from your father’s house, for even Joshua will have need for Eleazar. — [Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 11] and seek [counsel from] him.  when he finds it necessary to go to war. - [Sanh. 16a] By his word.  Eleazar’s [word]. and the entire congregation.  The Sanhedrin. — [Yoma 73b, Sanh. 16a]


22.  and he took Joshua.  He took him [by encouraging him] with words, and informed him of the reward in store for the leaders of Israel in the World to Come. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23]


23.  He laid his hands.  generously; over and above what he had been commanded. For the Holy One, blessed is He, said to him,“and you shall lay your hand upon him” (verse 18), but he did it with both his hands. He fashioned him like a full and overflowing vessel, filling him with wisdom in abundance. — [Sifrei Pinchas 23, Sanh. 105b] in accordance with what the Lord had spoken to Moses.  [That is,] also with respect to the majesty; He bestowed some of his majesty [radiance] upon him.


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“Moses became angry with the officers of the army.”  Those appointed over the army. [This comes] to teach you that when a generation is corrupt, the leaders are held responsible, for they have the power to protest. — [Sifrei Mattoth 43]


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28.  But command Joshua.  regarding the bother, the burdens and the quarrels [inherent in leadership]. and strengthen him and encourage him.  with your words, so that he will not be discouraged, saying, “Just as my teacher was punished, so will I be punished because of them.” I assure him [says God] that he will cross over [before this people] and he will make [them] inherit [the land]. (cf. Sifrei) for he will cross.  If he crosses before them, they will inherit the land, and if not, they will not inherit [it]. So, indeed, we find that when Joshua sent some of the people against Ai and he remained behind,“the men of Ai smote of them” (Josh. 7:5). And when he fell on his face, God said to him,  ָ‏קוּם-ל  : written קֻם [without a “vav”, so that it may be read קָם], i.e., it is you standing in your place and sending My children out to war [that brought about this defeat]. Why do you fall on your face? Did I not tell this to your master, Moses, “If he [Joshua] crosses, they will cross, but if not, they will not cross”? (Sifrei)

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