Joshua 12

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1 And these are the kings of the land, whom the children of Israel smote, and of whose land they took possession across the Jordan, toward the sun-rising, from the river Arnon to mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:

2 Sihon the king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, [and] ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the ravine, and over half Gilead, as far as the river Jabbok, [which is] the border of the children of Ammon;

3 and the plain as far as the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and as far as the sea of the plain, the salt sea, on the east, toward Beth-jeshimoth; and on the south, under the slopes of Pisgah;

4 and the territory of Og the king of Bashan, of the residue of the giants, who dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei,

5 and ruled over mount Hermon, and over Salcah, and over all Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and [over] half Gilead [as far as] the border of Sihon the king of Heshbon.

6 Moses the servant of Jehovah and the children of Israel smote them, and Moses the servant of Jehovah gave it for a possession to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh.

7 And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side the Jordan on the west, from Baal-Gad in the valley of Lebanon as far as the smooth mountain, which rises toward Seir. And Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions,

8 in the mountain, and in the lowland, and in the plain, and on the hill-slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the south: the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites:

9 The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;

10 the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;

11 the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;

12 the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;

13 the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;

14 the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;

15 the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;

16 the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;

17 the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one;

18 the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one;

19 the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one;

20 the king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one;

21 the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;

22 the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam on Carmel, one;

23 the king of Dor in the upland of Dor, one; the king of Goim, at Gilgal, one;

24 the king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 12      

Joshua 12: The kings who were defeated by Joshua.

This chapter lists the kings who were defeated by Moses on the other side of the river Jordan, and those defeated by Joshua in the land of Canaan. Moses defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan. Joshua defeated 31 kings, and this chapter names their cities one by one.

We might well wonder: what is the use of such a chapter for us? But here it is, included in the Word of God. We will suggest two ways in which this chapter gives us a spiritual message to work with:

First, the sheer number of kings who opposed Israel represent, in a general way, the many things that prevent us from dedicating ourselves to the Lord’s teachings.

Secondly, the many names of the towns that the Israelites defeated are all significant in identifying the various situations we encounter in our spiritual lives (See Swedenborg’s Arcana Caelestia 2009[9]). For example “Joshua” means ‘God is victory’, something we can come to understand as we choose to turn against evil. We can do that because the Lord fights for and with us; we cannot do that alone.

For every heaven there is a corresponding hell (See Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell 588). If mercy is something of heaven, hell is to do with cruelty and all that goes with it. If innocence is of heaven, hell is to do with intended harm and all that goes with that. Evil is unspeakably precise.

Joshua defeated thirty-one kings. The number thirty stands for combat and also for ‘remnants’, which are deep-seated feelings of good and truth given the Lord gives us during our childhood, to help us combat evil in adult regeneration. Thirty-one would seem to suggest combat going on even past thirty (Arcana Caelestia 5335).

The names of the cities of these kings are given, and each name represents a quality. ‘Israel’ was the name given to Jacob by the Lord, after he had wrestled all night with the angel of God and had prevailed (see Genesis 32:24-28). “Israel” means ‘striving with God’ and also ‘a prince with God’, and it became the name of the people of Israel.

As examples, we will look at three Canaanite cities which fought Israel, and explore the spiritual meaning of their names.

1. The king of Jarmuth, means ‘being downcast by death’. Viewing life only in terms of its inevitable end does terrible things to our sense of purpose, hope and trust. Defeating Jarmuth helps us see that death is a transition into eternal life, and our means of passing from this life into our fullest life.

2. The king of Aphek, means ‘tenacious fortress’. We can quite readily see that evil can be exactly like a tenacious fortress. Evil will hang on like grim death and refuse to let us go. Evil will attempt any number of devious tactics to break us down or undermine our faith. The last thing it will do is to see that we’re resolved, and then finally give up.

3. The king of Taanach, which means ‘sandy, hard to cross’. This might remind us of dangerous quicksands, or the way in which we stumble trying to walk through sand. Again, sometimes evil can appear to give us safer passage on solid ground, before we realize that it is the hells ensnaring us.

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