The first use of Holy Spirit

The first mention of Holy Spirit is at the very beginning of the Bible, setting the scene for its use throughout history. We find it in the account of Creation in Genesis 1:2 where we read “Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters”.

While the account does not state it specifically, we could reasonably conclude that it was used to create all things, such as in Genesis 1:6-7 where we read: “And God went on to say: “Let an expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters and the waters.”  7 Then God proceeded to make the expanse and to make a division between the waters that should be beneath the expanse and the waters that should be above the expanse. And it came to be so”.

Joseph, Moses and Joshua

Genesis 41:38-40: This account informs us as to how Joseph’s wisdom was recognised, “So Pharʹaoh said to his servants: “Can another man be found like this one in whom the spirit of God is?”  39 After that Pharʹaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has caused you to know all this, there is no one as discreet and wise as you are.  40 You will personally be over my house, and all my people will obey you implicitly. Only as to the throne shall I be greater than you”. It was undeniable that God’s Spirit was upon him.

In Exodus 31:1-11 we find the account is regarding the construction of the tabernacle on leaving Egypt, with Jehovah giving his Holy Spirit to certain Israelites. This was for a particular task according to his will, as the construction of the Tabernacle was requested by him. God’s promise was, “I shall fill him with the spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in every kind of craftsmanship”.

Numbers 11:17 goes on to relate Jehovah telling Moses that he would transfer some of the spirit he had given Moses to those who would now assist Moses in leading Israel. “and I shall have to take away some of the spirit that is upon you and place it upon them, and they will have to help you in carrying the load of the people that you may not carry it, just you alone”.

In confirmation of the statement above, Numbers 11:26-29 records that “Now there were two of the men remaining in the camp. The name of the one was Elʹdad, and the name of the other was Meʹdad. And the spirit began to settle down upon them, as they were among those written down, but they had not gone out to the tent. So they proceeded to act as prophets in the camp.  27 And a young man went running and reporting to Moses and saying: “Elʹdad and Meʹdad are acting as prophets in the camp!”  28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses from his young manhood on, responded and said: “My lord Moses, restrain them!”  29 However, Moses said to him: “Are you feeling jealous for me? No, I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets, because Jehovah would put his spirit upon them”.

Numbers 24:2 records Balaam blessing Israel under influence of God’s spirit. “When Baʹlaam raised his eyes and saw Israel tabernacling by his tribes, then the spirit of God came to be upon him”. This is a notable account in that it appears to be the only account of where Holy Spirit caused someone to do something other than what they intended. (Balaam intended to curse Israel).

Deuteronomy 34:9 describes the appointment of Joshua as Moses successor, “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hand upon him; and the sons of Israel began to listen to him and they went doing just as Jehovah had commanded Moses”. The Holy Spirit was given him to accomplish the finishing of the task that Moses started, that of bringing the Israelites into the Promises Land.

Judges and Kings

Judges 3:9-10 documents the appointment of Othniel as a Judge to save Israel from oppression in the Promised Land. “Then Jehovah raised a savior up for the sons of Israel that he might save them, Othʹni·el the son of Keʹnaz, the younger brother of Caʹleb.  10 The spirit of Jehovah now came upon him, and he became the judge of Israel”.

Another person appointed with Holy Spirit as a Judge is Gideon. Judges 6:34 recounts how Gideon saved Israel from oppression, yet again. “And Jehovah’s spirit enveloped Gidʹe·on so that he went blowing the horn, and the Abi-ezʹrites got to be called together after him”.

Judge Jepthath, was required to once again save Israel from oppression. The giving of the Holy Spirit is described in Judges 11:9, “Jehovah’s spirit now came upon Jephʹthah …”.

Judges 13:25 and Judges 14 & 15 show that Jehovah’s spirit was bestowed upon another Judge, Samson. “In time Jehovah’s spirit started to impel him in Maʹha·neh-dan”. The accounts in these chapters of Judges show how Jehovah’s spirit helped him against the Philistines who were oppressing Israel at this time, culminating in the destruction of the temple of Dagon.

1 Samuel 10:9-13 is an interesting account where Saul, soon to become King Saul, became a prophet for a short time only, with Jehovah’s spirit upon him for that purpose only: “And it occurred that as soon as he turned his shoulder to go from Samuel, God began changing the heart of his into another; and all these signs proceeded to come true on that day.  10 So they went from there to the hill, and here there was a group of prophets to meet him; at once the spirit of God became operative upon him, and he began to speak as a prophet in the middle of them. … 13 At length he finished speaking as a prophet and came to the high place”.

1 Samuel 16:13 contains the account of the anointing of David as king. “Accordingly, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of Jehovah began to be operative upon David from that day forward”.

As you can see all the accounts so far indicate that Jehovah only gave his Holy Spirit to selected individuals for a specific purpose, usually to ensure his purpose was not thwarted and often only for a specific time.

We now move on to the time of prophets.

Prophets and Prophecy

The following accounts show that both Elijah and Elisha were given Holy Spirit and acted as prophets of God. 2 Kings 2:9 reads “And it came about that as soon as they had gone across E·liʹjah himself said to E·liʹsha: “Ask what I should do for you before I am taken from you.” To this E·liʹsha said: “Please, that two parts in your spirit may come to me”. The account shows that occurred.

The result is recorded in 2 Kings 2:15 “When the sons of the prophets that were at Jerʹi·cho saw him some way off, they began to say: “The spirit of E·liʹjah has settled down upon E·liʹsha.” “.

2 Chronicles 15:1-2 tells us that Azariah the son of Oded to warn the southern kingdom of Judah and King Asa that they should return to Jehovah or he would leave them.

2 Chronicles 20:14-15 recounts the holy spirit being given to a little-known prophet so he would give instructions to King Jehoshaphat not to be afraid. As a result, the King and his army did obey Jehovah and stood and watched as Jehovah brought salvation for the Israelites. It reads “Now as for Ja·ha·ziʹel the son of Zech·a·riʹah the son of Be·naiʹah the son of Je·iʹel the son of Mat·ta·niʹah the Levite of the sons of Aʹsaph, the spirit of Jehovah came to be upon him in the middle of the congregation ….  Consequently he said: “Pay attention, all Judah and YOU inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Je·hoshʹa·phat! Here is what Jehovah has said to YOU, ‘Do not YOU be afraid or be terrified because of this large crowd; for the battle is not YOURS, but God’s”.

2 Chronicles 24:20 reminds us of the wicked actions of Jehoash, King of Judah. On this occasion God used a Priest to warn Jehoash of his errant ways and the consequences: “And God’s spirit itself enveloped Zech·a·riʹah the son of Je·hoiʹa·da the priest, so that he stood up above the people and said to them: “This is what the [true] God has said, ‘Why are YOU overstepping the commandments of Jehovah, so that YOU cannot prove successful? Because YOU have left Jehovah, he will, in turn, leave YOU.’”.

The Holy Spirit is frequently mentioned throughout Ezekiel in the visions and as being upon Ezekiel himself. See Ezekiel 11:1,5, Ezekiel 1:12,20 as examples where it gave directions to the four living creatures. Here the Holy Spirit was involved in bringing the visions of God to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:3)

Joel 2:28 is a well-known prophecy that had fulfillment in the first century. “And after that it must occur that I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and YOUR sons and YOUR daughters will certainly prophesy. As for YOUR old men, dreams they will dream. As for YOUR young men, visions they will see”. This action helped establish the early Christian Congregation (Acts 2:18).

Micah 3:8  Micah tells us that he was being given Holy Spirit to carry out the delivery of a warning message, “I myself have become full of power, with the spirit of Jehovah, and of justice and mightiness, in order to tell to Jacob his revolt and to Israel his sin”.

Messianic Prophecies

Isaiah 11:1-2 records the prophecy about Jesus having Holy Spirit, which was fulfilled from his birth. “And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesʹse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful.  2 And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah”. The fulfillment of this account is found in Luke 1:15.

Another messianic prophecy is recorded at Isaiah 61:1-3, which states, “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening [of the eyes] even to the prisoners;  2 to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones”. As readers will likely remember, Jesus stood up in the synagogue, read these verses, and applied them to himself as recorded in Luke 4:18.


  • In pre-Christian times,
    • Holy Spirit was given to chosen individuals by God. This was solely to accomplish a specific task related to his will for Israel and protecting the coming of the Messiah and hence ultimately the future of the world of mankind.
      • Given to some leaders,
      • Given to some judges
      • Given to some Kings of Israel
      • Given to God’s appointed Prophets

The next article will deal with the Holy Spirit in the 1st Century.





Articles by Tadua.
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