The Unanointed Mashiach: Parashat Pinchas
Rashi tells us that Mosheh suggested his own son Gershon as King and Yehoshua as Nasi (leader of the Sanhedrin), why did G-d deny that suggestion and desire Yehoshua to be both King and Nasi?
The Mitzvah of anointing a King is not mentioned explicitly in the Written Torah. Mosheh was never anointed, yet he was both King and Nasi.
Yehoshua alone transmitted the Torah to his generation just as Mosheh did and thus indicates that Mosheh transmitted the Torah to Yehoshua in a way that he was personally responsible for it.
Just like Mosheh, Yehoshua was the absolute authority on all matters of Torah. What is interesting as well, is that Yehoshua, like Mosheh, was never anointed either. This is because Torah leadership is not established by anointing.
Rambam explains this rather Halachic peculiarity in reference to Moshiach, and alludes to the fact that Mashiach too will be both King and Nasi, and that he does not necessarily have to be anointed in the literal sense according to Jewish Law.
Such a conclusion is extremely difficult to understand, as the very word מְשִׁיח (Mashiach) means "Anointed One." The root word for Mashiach is מְשִׁח (Mashach) which means “to anoint.”
It is important to note that the Talmud reveals that the word לִמְשִׁחַה (LeMashachah) which means "Greatness,” also shares the same root word for Mashiach and thus connects the two words as a representation of two manners in which "anointing" can take place.
So it turns out that they were in fact both anointed, as both Mosheh and Yehoshua were King and Nasi, and both achieved “Greatness” (were anointed in another context). And this is how the Halachah states that Mashiach does not necessarily have to be anointed in the literal sense.
- Bamidbar 27:16; Rashi to Bamidbar 27:16; Shemot 28:30, 33:11; Bamidbar Rabbah 21:14; Mishneh Torah Laws of Kings; Mishlei 27:18; Yalkut Reuveni Megaleh Amukos par. 1; Talmud Bavli Chulin 60b; Zevachim 91a; Likutei Sichos 23:190, 35:206