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).
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).