Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth
Joshua 18: The rest of the land is divided up among the 7 remaining tribes, and the tribe of Benjamin receives its lot.
After several chapters covering the allocation of the land for Reuben, Gad, Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh, there were still seven tribes to be provided for. Before this was done, Joshua gathered these seven tribes together and told them to choose three men from each tribe. These men went and surveyed the region, divided up all the land and cities into seven parts, and recorded everything in a book. Then they came back to Joshua, who cast lots to decide where the seven remaining tribes would live.
The first of the seven allocations was for the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was the youngest of the sons of Jacob, and he was a full brother to Joseph. Their mother, Rachel, whom Jacob had loved so much, died giving birth to Benjamin.
The city of Jerusalem was first allocated to Benjamin, but in time became more associated with Judah. In fact, these were the two tribes which later made up the kingdom of Judah, as opposed to the ten northern tribes forming the kingdom of Israel. Benjamin’s territory included the cities of Jericho, Ai and Gibeon, all of which had been significant soon after Israel crossed the River Jordan. Saul, the first king of Israel, was a Benjamite.
This story about surveying the land represents our need to know things as they truly are. This could mean many things: for example, exploring the idea of heaven, or hell, or life in this world, or a spiritual teaching such as providence. It might be to learn about justice and compassion, or true freedom. It may be our need to look honestly within ourselves and recognize some of our self-centred ways (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 1612).
The Israelite’s findings about the land were recorded in a book, which really would have been a scroll. This is like our ‘book of life’, in which everything about us down to the least detail is preserved so that in eternity, we shall know who we are (see Swedenborg’s Apocalypse Explained 199). Joshua drew lots so the Lord’s will would be clear to the people of Israel.
The spiritual meaning of Benjamin needs some careful explanation. Technically, it means ’the spiritual of the celestial’, and this is our ability to understand the reason for the most loving experiences we can have. It is heightened thinking joining with heightened feeling. Benjamin was the youngest son, the special brother of Joseph, who stands for the Lord (Arcana Caelestia 4585).
With this in mind, it is useful to know that Bethlehem, the town where Jesus was born, lay in the territory of Benjamin. Bethlehem’s name means ‘house of bread’ giving us the idea of nourishment for our physical and our spiritual lives. God came into the world to bring us the food of heaven and nourishment from the Word, so that we may fight our evils and choose what is good (Arcana Caelestia 6247, 4594).