Joshua 13

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1 Josue was old, and far advanced in years, and the Lord said to him: Thou art grown old, and advanced in age, and there is a very large country left, which is not yet divided by lot:

2 To wit, all Galilee, Philistia, and all Gessuri.

3 From the troubled river, that watereth Egypt, unto the borders of Accaron northward: the land of Chanaan, which is divided among the lords of the Philistines, the Gazites, the Azotians, the Ascalonites, the Gethites, and the Accronites.

4 And on the south side are the Hevites, all the land of Chanaan, and Maara of the Sidonians as far as Apheca, and the borders of the Amorrhite,

5 And his confines. The country also of Libanus towards the east from Baalgad under mount Hermon to the entering into Emath.

6 Of all that dwell in the mountains from Libanus, to the waters of Maserephoth, and all the Sidonians. I am he that will cut them off from before the face of the children of Israel. So let their land come in as a part of the inheritance of Israel, as I have commanded thee.

7 And now divide the land in possession to the nine tribes, and to the half tribe of Manasses,

8 With whom Ruben and Gad have possessed the land, which Moses the servant of the Lord delivered to them beyond the river Jordan, on the east side.

9 From Aroer, which is upon the bank of the torrent Amen, and in the midst of the valley and all the plains of Medaba, as far as Dibon:

10 And all the cities of Sehon, king of the Amorrhites, who reigned in Hesebon, unto the borders of the children of Ammon.

11 And Galaad, and the borders of Gessuri and Machati, and all mount Hermon, and all Basan as far as Salecha,

12 All the kingdom of Og in Basan, who reigned in Astaroth and Edrai, he was of the remains of the Raphaims: and Moses overthrew and destroyed them.

13 And the children of Israel would not destroy Gessuri and Machati: and they have dwelt in the midst of Israel, until this present day.

14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no possession: but the sacrifices and victims of the Lord God of Israel, are his inheritance, as he spoke to him.

15 And Moses gave a possession to the children of Ruben according to their kindreds.

16 And their border was from Aroer, which is on the bank of the torrent Arnon, and in the midst of the valley of the same torrent: all the plain, that leadeth to Medaba,

17 And Hesebon, and all their villages, which are in the plains. Dibon also, and Bamothbaal, and the town of Baalmaon,

18 And Jassa, and Cidimoth, and Mephaath,

19 And Cariathaim, and Sabama, and Sarathasar in the mountain of the valley.

20 Bethphogor and Asedoth, Phasga and Bethiesimoth,

21 And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdoms of Sehon king of the Amorrhites, that reigned in Hesebon, whom Moses slew with the princes of Madian: Hevi, and Recem, and Sur and Hur, and Rebe, dukes of Sehon inhabitants of the land.

22 Balaam also the son of Beer the soothsayer, the children of Israel slew with the sword among the rest that were slain.

23 And the river Jordan was the herder of the children of Ruben. This is the possession of the Rubenites, by their kindreds, of cities and villages.

24 And Moses gave to the tribe of Gad and to his children by their kindreds a possession, of which this is the division.

25 The border of Jaser, and all the cities of Galaad, and half the land of the children of Ammon: as far as Aroer which is over against Rabba:

26 And from Hesebon unto Ramoth, Masphe and Betonim: and from Manaim unto the borders of Dabir.

27 And in the valley Betharan and Bethnemra, and Socoth, and Saphon the other part of the kingdom of Sehon king of Hesebon: the limit of this also is the Jordan, as far as the uttermost part of the sea of Cenereth beyond the Jordan on the east side.

28 This is the possession of the children of Gad by their families, their cities, and villages.

29 He gave also to the half tribe of Manasses and his children possession according to their kindreds,

30 The beginning whereof is this: from Manaim all Basan, and all the kingdoms of Og king of Basan, and all the villages of Jair, which are in Basan, threescore towns.

31 And half Galaad, and Astaroth, and Edrai, cities of the kingdom of Og in Basan: to the children of Machir, the son of Manasses, to one? half of the children of Machir according to their kindreds.

32 This possession Moses divided in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan, over against Jericho on the east side.

33 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no possession: because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their possession, as he spoke 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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