Mālē; Strong’s #4390 Mālē means to be full.
Exodus 31: 3 and 35:31 tell the story of Bezalel (1 Chronicles 2:20) of the tribe of Judah and Oholiab. Bezalel was filled with the knowledge, skill, and ability to do and teach others what needed to be done to make the Ark and Tabernacle.
Like all four of the words that are used to signify the Spirit coming on people, Mālē has other meanings/used in different applications. The construction of the Ark and Tabernacle took a year, but you have the sense that these men were filled up and it lasted a lifetime.
Labas or lȃbash; Strong’s #3847 He put on righteousness as his breastplate. ….. he put on garments of vengeance. Isaiah 59: 17 (NIV) The meaning of lȃbash is to put on garments or wrap up in something. This verse, to me, is one of the “building stones” for the armor of the Spirit that is found in Ephesians 6.
Gideon – Judges 6:34
Amasai – 1 Chronicles 12: 18 He pledged his support to David in the form of a word of encouragement. In this verse, Amasi is listed as the leader of the Thirty, but that name is not in the list of David’s Thirty. It could be he had another name, or was in charge of David’s Thirty before or after the list in 2 Samuel 23: 24 was made.
Vine, in his dictionary, puts this “come upon” more along the line of being filled (as in living inside) with the Spirit, and thus helped the men (Gideon) from the inside out. The way the Hebrew makes it sound is that the Spirit put Gideon on. This thought may mess with your theology, but this is another level of relationship with the Spirit in the Old Testament. Given what Gideon did and the amount of story that was written about him it must have been an impressive experience.
There are four words (hȃyȃ, lȃbash, mālē, tsȃlach) we will look at that are used in the Old Testament to convey that the Spirit “came upon” man. The use of these different words seems to indicate different intensities of “anointing.” Just to be clear, any anointing of the Holy Spirit is a big deal!
Hȃyȃ; Strong’s #1961 – Nehemiah 9:30 You were patient with them. By your Spirit, you admonished them through your prophets (NIV).
Balaam – Numbers 24:2
Othniel – Judges 3:10
Jephthah – Judges 11:29
King Saul’s men – 1 Samuel 19: 20
Azariah son of Oded for King Asa – 2 Chronicles 15:1
Jahaziel descendent of Asaph for King Jehoshaphat – 2 Chronicles 20:14, 20
According to Strong’s/Vines Concordance when used as a verb it emphasizes that a person is present. This is also the word when God told Moses, “I am (hȃyȃ) that I am (hȃyȃ). Most people will recognize Balaam, the deceiver, and Jephthah, a man of faith (Hebrews 11: 32), but the rest of these men are mentioned once and no more. It would seem that this is the “lightest” connection with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; the reason I say this is because of duration, not intensity. The word Hȃyȃ is a very interesting word that is used in many contexts (future study).
There are many men and women who were prophets in the Old Testament and most of them have no record as to when or how the Spirit moved on them to prophecy (or see visions/dreams). Othniel and Jephthah were judges and their touch by the Spirit is in connection with them doing that task. The last three on the list prophesied, once, and we never see them again. Balaam’s (See The Lord Your/My God) words to Balak (Numbers 23, 24) are “good” words but his life and actions are wrong; still, he was used by the Spirit.
The First We Knew of the Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2 – The Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters. (He was waiting to start His work on Earth.)
6:3 – The Spirit will not contend with a man for more than 120 years. (Joseph Prince makes the point that this is because the seed of man – at that time- was contaminated by the spirits who were “marrying” women.)
Psalm 104: 30 – When the Spirit is sent He refreshes the earth and animals are born.
Job 33: 4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (NIV)
34: 14 + 15 If He withdrew His breath all mankind would perish.
Having been a Christian a long time I have to admit that I was surprised when I started this study in the series Passover to Pentecost (see the tags at the top of the page). I briefly touched on the topic of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. It was interesting to see that there are at least seventy references to the Spirit and His work in the Old Testament.
The above verses reflect His work before His part in the birth of Jesus. They are very much the shadow of His work after the Day of Pentecost, which is giving life to the Church and bringing people to glorify Jesus.