In this week’s Bible portion, we encounter the charge “to be strong and of good courage” three different times.
Moses instructs the people to be strong and of good courage for God will march with them into the land and will not fail them.
Moses says to Joshua publicly, as he had said to him privately earlier, to be strong and of good courage as he leads the people into the land with God’s support.
Then God later charges Joshua to be strong and of good courage to bring the people into the land, pledging to be with him.
Good Bible students know that three separate mentions of a specific direction in the space of the shortest portion in Torah is not accidental. At the very least, we sense that we are to pay extra attention to its meaning.
One way to do so is to look at these Hebrew words and see what they can mean.
The word for the concept of being strong is chazak. It can also mean to hold fast, to make repairs, to harden, to take courage, to strengthen, and to prevail.
The root word for the concept of being of good courage is amets. This word can also mean to be resolute, to be alert, and to be bold.
The text promotes a view to which people of faith hold fast: we act with the confidence that God supports us and stands with us in life. But the thrice-stated admonition here from both Moses and God drives us to see that we, too, have duties.
Be strong. Hold fast. Make repairs. Be resolute. Be alert. Be bold. God calls us through these verbs to be strong and of good courage.