You shall present the Levites before the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle), and you shall also assemble the whole congregation of the children of Israel, and present the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites shall lay their hands on the Levites. – Numbers 8:9-10
The laying on of hands is found widely throughout The Bible in a variety of situations including blessings, bestowing of inheritance rights, animal sacrifices, commission to leadership or ministry duties, reception of the Holy Spirit, healing, and raising the dead.
The laying on of hands conveys an important truth, that God works through fallible, imperfect people. When laying on of hands is properly administered in the name of God through faith, in a Spirit of harmony, mutual respect, trust, and submission expressed in the right way, special benefits and blessings will be imparted.
Laying on of hands in the Old Testament was used for the following purposes:
1. Transference of spiritual blessing or authority. [Transference means that something spiritual flows from the one laying on hands to the one he is touching.]
2. Public confirmation of a spiritual blessing or authority received from God.
3. Commitment to God for a special ministry.
And when a presbyter is ordained the bishop shall lay his hand upon his head, the presbyters also touching him. And he shall pray over him according to the aforementioned form which we gave before over the bishop, praying and saying: O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … Look upon this thy servant and impart to him the spirit of grace and counsel, that he may share in the presbyterate and govern Thy people in a pure heart. – St. Hippolytus, Traditio apostolica 8