Yehoshua and the Peaceful Transfer of Power: A Thought on Pinchas

In Pinchas, this week’s Torah portion, we see Moshe starting the process of transferring leadership to Yehoshua. There we read:

And the Lord answered Moshe, “Single out Yehoshua son of Nun, an inspired man, and lay your hand upon him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission him in their sight. Invest him with some of your authority, so that the whole Israelite community may obey.” ( Numbers 27:18-20)

Yehoshua’s assent to power is a clear juxtaposition to Pinchas who the Torah portion is names. Pinchas took power in his own hands when killing Zimri and Cozbi at the end of last week’s Torah portion. In comparison Yehoshua is eased into his role by Moshe. God instruct Moshe to invest in him his authority so that the people will start seeing him in the role of successor. It is hard to imagine trying to fill those shoes.

In thinking about I was reminded of part of this wonderful video that highlights the importance of being the first follower. Please watch:

As we see here, the leader needs to confer authority on the first follower as equals to start a movement. Moshe is clearly the leader of the Israelite people, but would it have been a movement that has lasted to today if it was not for that first follower?

Most of history has been plagued by violent transfers of leadership marked by Pinchas-like acts of aggression. One could even say that the health of a society can be measured by the peaceful transfer of power. Like Yehoshua John Adams, a remarkable political philosopher, served as the second President of the United States (1797-1801), after serving as the first Vice President under President George Washington. Our first president, George Washington chose not to try to be elected for a third term. Power is alluring. It take a huge strength to make room for others to grow into leadership, but ultimately it is for the best.

-See another post on followership and Nachshon here

 

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