Joshua 13

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1 And Joshua was old, advanced in age, and Jehovah said to him, Thou art old, advanced in age, and there remaineth yet very much land to take possession of.

2 This is the land that yet remaineth: all the districts of the Philistines and all the Geshurites,

3 from the Shihor, which [floweth] before Egypt, as far as the borders of Ekron northward, [and which] is counted to the Canaanite; five lordships of the Philistines: of Gazah, and of Ashdod, of Eshkalon, of Gath, and of Ekron; also the Avvites;

4 in the south, the whole land of the Canaanites, and Mearah which [belongeth] to the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the border of the Amorites;

5 and the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sun-rising, from Baal-Gad at the foot of mount Hermon to the entrance into Hamath;

6 all the inhabitants of the hill-country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians; I will dispossess them from before the children of Israel. Only, partition it by lot to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

7 And now divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes, and to half the tribe of Manasseh;

8 with him the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them:

9 from Aroer, which is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the ravine, and all the plateau of Medeba to Dibon,

10 and all the cities of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who reigned at Heshbon, to the border of the children of Ammon;

11 and Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and the whole of Bashan to Salcah;

12 all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, who remained of the residue of the giants; and Moses smote them and dispossessed them.

13 But the children of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurites nor the Maachathites; but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites to this day.

14 Only to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance: the offerings by fire of Jehovah the God of Israel are their inheritance, as he said to them.

15 And Moses gave [a portion] to the tribe of the children of Reuben according to their families.

16 And their territory was from Aroer, which is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the ravine, and all the plateau by Medeba;

17 Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plateau, Dibon, and Bamoth-Baal, and Beth-Baal-meon,

18 And Jahzah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,

19 and Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar in the mountain of the vale,

20 and Beth-Peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth;

21 all the cities of the plateau, and the whole kingdom of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who reigned at Heshbon, whom Moses smote, him and the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the chiefs of Sihon dwelling in the land.

22 And Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, did the children of Israel kill with the sword among them that were slain by them.

23 And the border of the children of Reuben was the Jordan, and [its] border. This is the inheritance of the children of Reuben according to their families, the cities and their hamlets.

24 And Moses gave [a portion] to the tribe of Gad, to the children of Gad according to their families.

25 And their territory was Jaazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, to Aroer which is before Rabbah;

26 and from Heshbon to Ramath-Mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir;

27 and in the valley, Beth-haram, and Beth-Nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon the king of Heshbon, the Jordan and [its] border, as far as the edge of the sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan eastward.

28 This is the inheritance of the children of Gad according to their families, the cities and their hamlets.

29 And Moses gave [a portion] to half the tribe of Manasseh; and for half the tribe of the children of Manasseh according to their families:

30 their territory was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, the whole kingdom of Og the king of Bashan, and all the villages of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities.

31 And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, [belonged] to the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, to the one half of the children of Machir according to their families.

32 This is that which Moses allotted for inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan of Jericho, eastward.

33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance: Jehovah the God of Israel is their inheritance, as he said to them.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 13      

Joshua 13: The start of the tribal territory allocations.

Now that Israel had conquered the land of Canaan, the Lord commanded Joshua to divide the land between the twelve tribes. The next seven chapters tell how the the land of Canaan was divided (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 1413, to read more about the spiritual meaning).

Chapter 13 deals with the territories given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and one half of Manasseh, all of which are on the other side of the river Jordan. Reuben was given the southern lands; Gad was given the extensive middle region, much of which is an area called Gilead; and half the tribe of Manasseh received the northern land which is on the other side of the Jordan.

It is also worth noting that the first few verses say much of the land remained to be conquered. However, at the end of chapter 11, we read that Joshua took the whole land as the Lord had commanded Moses.

This may seem contradictory, but spiritually it fits very well. In our regeneration, we aim to conquer our self-centred nature, and allow the Lord to rule us with his truth. This is spiritually ‘conquering the whole land’. But even so, our natural thoughts and desires sometimes rise up to trouble us, and these times are like the parts of the land that remain to be conquered. This is why we must recognize our complete dependence on the Lord (Arcana Caelestia 8326).

The Lord giving land as inheritance to each of the twelve tribes represents the way that He gives us our spiritual life. As we do the work of spiritual ‘conquering’ - living by our purpose to serve the Lord - we feel more and more that we can use our understanding of God and His Word in our actions every day.

The twelve tribes stand for the whole spectrum of what spiritual life involves, and each tribe relates to a specific quality of our spiritual living (Arcana Caelestia 3858). For example, we need to be discerning, positive, respectful of others, and so on. Each tribe has a sizeable area of the land, and is part of the integrity of the whole nation.

The territories given to Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh are not part of Canaan, but they are linked to it. These areas represent our outward life: the way we work, live, rest, and relate with other people. This is the ‘casing’ of our spiritual life, and it is essential.

The tribe of Reuben – the eldest son of Jacob – stands for our initial need to see the truths from the Lord in the Word. By ‘seeing’ we mean meeting them, looking carefully, being attentive, coming to understand what they ask of us, and realising how important they are. It is not a vague impression that the Lord’s teachings are important, but a real first step for us (Arcana Caelestia 3866).

The tribe of Gad stands for our ability to see that knowledge and truth need to be used to perform good works. Gad’s name means ‘a troop,’ calling to mind soldiers marching in formation to go and sort things out properly. This is something we can apply to ourselves and to the world around us. We just need to watch that it doesn’t get too heavy-handed (See Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Explained 435[7]).

The tribe of Manasseh represents the spiritual good which supports our will to live a life which is just, fair and honourable because it is based on God. In fact, Manasseh – which means ‘forgetfulness’ – stands for our need to remember that ‘my will’ is really ‘the Lord’s will for me’. Our will needs to be focused on outward life and also inwardly open to the Lord, which is why half of Manasseh has land beyond the Jordan and half has land within Canaan (Arcana Caelestia 5353).

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