Joshua 14

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1 And these are the inheritances which the children of Israel took in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers' [houses] of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed unto them,

2 by the lot of their inheritance, as Jehovah commanded by Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half-tribe.

3 For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave no inheritance among them.

4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: and they gave no portion unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for their cattle and for their substance.

5 As Jehovah commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did; and they divided the land.

6 Then the children of Judah drew nigh unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that Jehovah spake unto Moses the man of God concerning me and concerning thee in Kadesh-barnea.

7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of Jehovah sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in my heart.

8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed Jehovah my God.

9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy foot hath trodden shall be an inheritance to thee and to thy children for ever, because thou hast wholly followed Jehovah my God.

10 And now, behold, Jehovah hath kept me alive, as he spake, these forty and five years, from the time that Jehovah spake this word unto Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.

11 As yet I am as strong this day as I as in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, and to go out and to come in.

12 Now therefore give me this hill-country, whereof Jehovah spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and cities great and fortified: it may be that Jehovah will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as Jehovah spake.

13 And Joshua blessed him; and he gave Hebron unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.

14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite unto this day; because that he wholly followed Jehovah, the God of Israel.

15 Now the name of Hebron beforetime was Kiriath-arba; [which Arba was] the greatest man among the Anakim. And the land had rest from war.


Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 14      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 14: The territories west of the Jordan, and Caleb’s inheritance.

This chapter tells how the land of Canaan would be distributed among the remaining nine-and-a-half tribes, which would be determined by drawing lots. The tribe of Levi, the priests of Israel, would not receive their own territory, but would be given cities to live in across the land. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, were each recognized as a tribe of Israel to make the number of tribes receiving land equal twelve. Caleb and his people received Mount Hebron as a special inheritance, because he had fully and whole-heartedly followed the Lord God of Israel many years ago.

Casting lots was used in those days to decide many things, because people believed that the outcome showed the will of God. Lots were often sticks or stones, each marked with a symbol, which would be cast much like rolling dice. Then the result would be examined to make a decision. The spiritual meaning of casting lots is that we should allow the Lord to show us what is required, and believe that His providence extends over everything in our lives (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 10773). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).

The tribe of Levi, the third of the twelve sons of Jacob, had been set apart from the other tribes during their time in the wilderness; when the war cry “Who is on the Lord’s side?” was given before a battle, it was only the tribe of Levi who had responded. They were appointed as the priests of Israel for this dedication to God. Here, now, we are told that they are to live throughout the land (Arcana Caelestia 6998).

On a spiritual level, the Levites stand for the Lord’s presence throughout the whole of our life. Another way of putting this is that our spirit (and our life) is there throughout the whole of our body. And a third way of seeing this is that every part of our life should be guided by our love for the Lord. Other references to the Levites mention that all the people of Israel are to provide food and gifts for the Levites, reinforcing this same idea.

Caleb gets special treatment; he is given Mount Hebron as a new home for his people. Caleb and Joshua had been sent with 10 other men to spy out the land of Canaan 40 years earlier. They had given it a good report, and had - unsuccessfully - urged the Children of Israel to follow the Lord's leading and conquer the land at that time. Now, Caleb reminds Joshua about the Lord’s words to Moses regarding them, and Moses’ promise to give Caleb an inheritance. At the age of eighty-five, Caleb was still as strong as when spied out the land. He tells Joshua: “Now therefore, give me this mountain and the Lord will be with me to drive out the enemy” (Joshua 14:12). And it is given to him with a blessing from Joshua.

Mount Hebron is in the territory of Judah, west of the Dead Sea and south of what is now Jerusalem. Its name means ‘bound by a common bond’ or ‘accord’. Its spiritual meaning is that it brings diversity into unity, many into one, and for us, harmony in our spiritual life (Arcana Caelestia 3241[2]).

Caleb’s name means ‘bold, fearless, ferocious to enemies’. For us, Caleb is a picture of sureness and determination that to follow the Lord will always lead to success. Caleb never led Israel, but he acts as a right-hand-man to Joshua. Even though Joshua was the one to lead the children of Israel, there is still the need in each of us for Caleb’s enthusiasm, conviction and assurance to move forward with full confidence. His strength never left him, because he felt and lived the strength which the Lord gave him (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 137[5]).

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