Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

Jacques B. Doukhan

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Abstract

This study investigates the procedural techniques, symbolic meanings, and tangible effects of the laying on of hands (samach yad) in the installation of Joshua to the position of Israel's leader as presented in Num 27:12-23 and Deut 34:9.

The Introduction reviews the purpose, delimitations, and methodology of the dissertation and also provides a review of the different and sometimes conflicting opinions regarding the significance of Joshua's installation and of the significance of his receiving the laying on of hands.

Chapter 1 offers a study of the ancient Near Eastern cognates and related terms of samach and yad in a representative sample of literature from the ancient Near Eastern world. This study indicates that hand symbolism in the ancient Near Eastern world was very rich and had broad application but that laying on of hands in leadership-transfer scenarios outside the Bible appears to be limited to one incident in Egypt.

Chapter 2 offers a study of samach, yad, and samach yad in the Old Testament. The Old Testament world shared in the rich handsymbolism of the world around it, but adds unique understanding to the phenomenon of laying on of hands in transfers of leadership.

The main focus of chapters 1 and 2 limits the study of hand symbolism to the perception, projection, and change of status. Hand symbolism plays a significant role in each of these three areas in both the ancient Near Eastern and biblical worlds. This role enhances an interpretation of the usage of Moses' hand in Joshua's installation to leadership.

Chapter 3 provides an exegetical study first of Num 27:12-23 and second of Deut 34:9. Each text is analyzed in the following order: first, it is studied in its relationship to the book in which it is found; second, its structure is analyzed; third, its uniqueness is studied; fourth, analysis is given to its elements which accompany the laying on of hands. The chapter then draws conclusions that apply to the laying on of hands in both texts. Areas of uniqueness, disagreement, and agreement between the two passages are reviewed. The chapter finally draws conclusions from the exegetical study with respect to the procedural techniques, symbolic meanings, and tangible effects of Moses laying hands on Joshua.

Finally, a summary and conclusions bring together the major findings of this research. This dissertation concludes that Joshua's reception of the laying on of hands played a critical, necessary, and significant role in his ordination to the office of Israel's leader. The evidence indicates that samach yad is central to the essence and purpose of ritual investiture as described in Num 27:12-23and Deut 34:9. This essence and purpose permeate the procedural details, the symbolic meaning, and the tangible results of samach yad. While the other elements of the installation ritual are important, the laying on of hands is indeed the strong identifying mark that binds them all.

Subject Area

Imposition of hands, Joshua (Biblical figure), Bible. Deuteronomy 34:9--Criticism, interpretation, etc, Bible. Numbers 27:12-23--Criticism, interpretation, etc

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