September 29th, 2007
08:00 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama the next Joshua?

Does Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign have a Biblical parallel?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, appeared to draw comparisons between a biblical figure, the civil rights movement and his presidential campaign during a speech at Howard University on Friday.

The presidential candidate likened the civil rights movement to the Bible story of Moses and Joshua’s journey through the desert. He called on the students of Howard University to be the “Joshuas of your generation,” and to finish the work in the civil rights movement.

“When Joshua discovered the challenge he faced, he had doubts, and he had worries,” Obama said. “He told God, ‘Don’t choose me. I'm not strong enough. I'm not wise enough. I don't have training. I don't have enough experience.’”

Obama is often criticized for his lack of political experience, and the similarity between Joshua’s task and the Illinois Democrats’ bid to win the White House with only two-plus years in the Senate under his belt was not lost on the audience.

In the Bible, Moses takes his people to the promised land but on the last leg of the journey, God asks Joshua to be the guide.

- CNN Ticker Producer Xuan Thai

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. ye

    what a hack job on obama by cnn. umm did any one say 24,000 people at his rally last night?

    September 28, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  2. Pastor Raymond Bell Spring Lake Park, Mn.

    I understand your point-BUT you quote the wrong source.
    “When Joshua discovered the challenge he faced, he had doubts, and he had worries,” Obama said. “He told God, ‘Don’t choose me. I'm not strong enough. I'm not wise enough. I don't have training. I don't have enough experience.’”
    Those were MOSES' words, NOT Joshua's.

    September 28, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  3. Maria, Houston

    This is a humble man with a genuine desire to do good. Barack Obama has strong convictions and respect for the constitution of our country. He has great mind and intelligence. He is thoughtful and responsible.

    We have not seen a combination of these qualities in our leaders for a long time. They were smart, but dishonest. Or dumb AND dishonest.

    Obama caught many cynics by surprise, but that's not his fault. He is right when he says: "I ask you to believe in yourselves..." Can we?

    September 28, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. Patrick Rusk, Arlington, MA

    It seems Obama continues Bill Clinton's legacy of misquoting the Bible. Moses was the one who expressed such doubts when called. The most that could be said about Joshua on these lines is that an angel telling him "Be strong and courageous" might have implied that he needed some bucking up.

    September 29, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  5. ALPHA

    He's so inspirational, I really believe hes gonna be president to all republicans and democrats.

    September 29, 2007 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Is he talking about Moses' brother Aaron?

    September 29, 2007 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  7. Dave Owens

    Hmm. I think the good Sen. Obama may be confusing Joshua with Moses. I don't recall ever reading about Joshua having doubts or thinking he was good enough.

    Perhaps the Senator should bone up on his Old Testament a bit more.

    September 29, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    Obama made a similar speech in Selma, Alabama. It is good to see a candidate who truly understands the importance of the Bible as one of the pillars of Western literature and as a major aspect of our culture, whether you are a believer or not.

    September 29, 2007 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  9. Adam Nami, Hong Kong

    I believe that Obama's intentions are for the best, although he mistakenly used a comparison that had potential to cause a fair amount of controversy. He continues to be my favorite candidate, due to previous statements and perspectives by the other candidates. The most recent incident was a prime example. Hilary Clinton stated that the Iranian president should not be allowed to visit the world trade center memorial. This is blatant racism and ignorance, as he only wanted to pay his respects. There was no reasoning behind her attack on him. Obama could use this as a strong point in his campaign. To this point he has generally been unbaiased and fair, so it would look good for him to act like a diplomat and not rambo. Religious references aside, he's still the best choice.

    September 29, 2007 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  10. Axel, RKTA, California

    I believe in myself. It's him I'm not so sure about. And he's the one running for President, not me.

    September 29, 2007 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  11. Jonathan Brackens Midland, TX

    I think Obama’s comments were strategic and therefore I must give him credit. He is trying to appeal to minorities by paralleling their previous and current struggles with Jewish emancipation. Secondly, he established a need for a leader who emerges from among the people to bring them into the Promise Land. His imagery, though inaccurately stated, gives the notion that America’s “minorities” are still oppressed and that he will take the responsibility to empower them to achieve freedom. Thirdly, for those not inspired by minority motivation his attempt to quote the Bible should spark the interest of “God-fearing” Christians.

    September 29, 2007 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  12. Moe, NY

    Ugh...Obama you sound like a neo republican....please keep religion out of politics...It is not wanted, or needed in this country anyway (as far as politics are concerned). If you start that religious/family values hypocritical BS, then I sincerely hope you do not have a snowballs chance in hell of continuing your political career. You just made your first (I think) BIG MISTAKE. Americans have had almost 8 years of hypocritical religious BS shoved down our throats, and I, for one, am tired of it. Word of not mix politics with religion...( I equate it with drinking and driving...should not be done by anyone)it will come back to haunt you, as it should!

    September 29, 2007 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  13. Saulsberry Milwaukee,WI

    Stop trying to find something negetive about this man. This country is well overdue change. What we have been doing so far is not working. If we want to see progress on any of the issues that americans face, we are going to have to except change. Or we as a country will be left behind.

    September 29, 2007 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  14. Aaron, American in Taiwan

    As if a knowledge of scripture is a requirement for a government position. And to all the Republicans who pretend that Hillary and Obama are the anti-Christ, look at what your candidates are worth? Look at how your guys have done? Don't you honestly believe it's time to change the tune? If you think things are going well, seek help.

    September 29, 2007 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  15. Mrs. America

    Frankly, I'm getting real tired of listening to this religious crap. Look how religious George Bush says he is, and the religious right that got him installed the first time and elected the second time. And then look where the country is. Religion continues to do what it does best–cause wars.

    Well, you can't blame Obama for trying becase he's not getting any earthly support from Mrs. Obama. Geez, Giuliani's even quoting the bible. How many more months of this before people can go back to being heathens?

    September 29, 2007 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  16. anon, new york, NY

    Obama does not know his bible at all, although he identifies himself as christain. He misquotes the bible by using he words of Moses with Joshua.

    He should attend his church more, and read the bible more instead of koran.

    September 29, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  17. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Obama, don't dream as God will not ask you to guide or lead the american people.

    September 29, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  18. Walter Huckeba, Perry GA

    In reply to the following partial quote by Osama

    "...and to finish the work in the civil rights movement."

    Since so many African-Americans make their living by keeping a wedge between Whites and A-As, how can we tell when the work is finished?

    September 29, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. Moses, Euphrates

    You bunch of religious fanatics are all a bunch of nutbags....what about the fact that there have been hundreds of variations of the Bible that were wiped out by the roman catholics in favor of the one that best served their purpose. Or, that christianity, the jewish, the nation of islam, and virtually all other forms of religion promote their people as the "chosen" ones, and that all other forms of life are inferior. How about the FACT that virtually every major conflict in the history of man has been a result of some religously based motive. How about the FACT that the self serving hipocrites hiding behind religion and taking advantage of its zombie like followers, can achieve such amazing positions of wealth and prominence! It is a tragedy and a cruel joke.

    September 29, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  20. Michaele, Chandler, AZ

    Obama is right. We do need a great leader at this time in our nation;s history. After reading "The Audacity of Hope" and watching Barack Obama over the pastfew months, I am sure that he is the leader we need to get us out of Iraq, marching toward a place of respect in the world and to the promise that was once America for all people. Go Obama.

    September 29, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. Adam, Plano, TX

    Obama does not know his bible at all, although he identifies himself as christain. He misquotes the bible by using he words of Moses with Joshua.

    He should attend his church more, and read the bible more instead of koran.
    Posted By anon, new york, NY : September 29, 2007 8:36 am

    just fyi, the same story would be in the quran.

    September 29, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. Steve, Sumter SC

    Paster Bell,

    I fully agree with you. One other issue. Moses never made it to the promise land. He died in the mountains that overlook the promised land! This is why we need to know the Word of God! If not we will believe anything and anyone!

    September 29, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  23. Rob, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    For a secular state your political leadership sure spends a lot of time quoting scripture, comparing themselves to biblical figures, etc. The Presidential 2008 is still well over a year away, the candidates will be comparing themselves to God just to keep up with the news cycle!

    September 29, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Juanito, Washington, DC

    Why don't you Obama haters READ before attacking him? Sheesh!! He was talking to Howard University students and asking them to finish the work in the civil rights movement, much like Joshua finished the work started by Moses in leading his people to the promised land.
    Obama was not calling himself Joshua. The headline is wrong, he was not comparing himself to Joshua, he was telling the young people to get involved and become leaders.

    You people reading the article and attacking Obama are pathetic. Try to comprehend before posting rubbish.

    September 29, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Chip Celina OH

    Maybe it was a simple slip of the tongue? How often have you seen a candidate do it? They speak so often that it's bound to happen. Have any of you ever mis-spoken? Meaning one thing but tripping up on the words or reversing one or another? I know I have. Since he gets the concept of "the Joshua generation" we shouldn't be smearing him and attacking his character.

    Have a great weekend,

    September 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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