Joshua 16

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1 POI fu tratta la sorte per li figliuoli di Giuseppe, e la lor parte scadde loro dal Giordano di Gerico, presso delle acque di Gerico, verso il Levante, traendo verso il deserto che sale da Gerico per li monti di Betel.

2 E questo confine si stendeva da Betel verso Luz; poi passava lungo i confini degli Archei, fino ad Atarot;

3 poi scendeva verso Occidente, a’ confini de’ Giafletei, fino a’ confini di Bet-horon disotto, e fino a Ghezer; e faceva capo al mare.

4 Così i figliuoli di Giuseppe, Manasse, ed Efraim, ebbero la loro eredità.

5 Or il confine de’ figliuoli di Efraim, distinti per le lor nazioni; il confine, dico, della loro eredità, dall’Oriente, fu Atrot-addar, fino a Bet-horon disopra.

6 E questo confine si stendeva dal Settentrione verso l’Occidente, fino a Micmetat; e dall’Oriente si volgeva verso Taanat-Silo, e da quel luogo passava dall’Oriente fino a Ianoa.

7 Poi scendeva da Ianoa in Atarot, e Naarat, e s’incontrava in Gerico, e faceva capo al Giordano.

8 Questo confine andava da Tappua verso Occidente, fino alla valle delle canne, e faceva capo al mare. Questa fu l’eredità della tribù de’ figliuoli di Efraim, secondo le lor nazioni.

9 Oltre alle città che furon messe da parte per li figliuoli di Efraim per mezzo l’eredità de’ figliuoli di Manasse; tutte queste città, dico, con le lor villate.

10 Or essi non iscacciarono i Cananei che abitavano in Ghezer: laonde que’ Cananei son dimorati per mezzo Efraim infino a questo giorno, e sono stati fatti tributari.

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 16      

Joshua 16: The territories of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Chapter 16 tells about the land given to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph. Only Ephraim’s territory is covered in this chapter; Manasseh’s territory is discussed in Joshua 17.

The first three verses describe Ephraim and Manasseh’s territories as one large area. Half of Manasseh had already been given land on the other side of the River Jordan, (see Joshua 13 for more). Together, Ephraim and (the second half of) Manasseh’s territory is in the center of the land west of the Jordan.

This seems to suggest that the spiritual meaning of those two tribes is of major importance for us. Ephraim, Joseph’s younger son, stands for our understanding of the Lord’s truths, while Manasseh, the older son, stands for the good which these truths lead us to do (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 8399).

It is a spiritual truth that we need an understanding of what is true - in the Word, and about the Lord - before we can begin to do what is genuinely good. Yet it is good which is the most important thing in our spiritual life, so this is really the first in importance (see Swedenborg’s True Christian Religion 336[2]).

This ‘switch’ is reflected in Genesis chapter 48, when Joseph takes his two sons to his dying father, Israel, for him to bless them. But Israel (Jacob) blesses younger Ephraim first, and Manasseh second; he reverses the order of their birth. For us, it is important to see that both good and truth combined are essential, each for the sake of the other. The tribes’ central location in the Land of Canaan and adjoining territories illustrate this point.

Verse 9 brings out this unity even further. It says: “The separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.” Not only were the two territories adjacent, but they overlapped, with separate cities for Ephraim being among the territory of Manasseh. Truth and good are partnered in a kind of marriage together (read Swedenborg’s Doctrine of Life 33).

The last verse of this short chapter raises another interesting point, which has been mentioned previously: while Israel had conquered the land of Canaan, there were places where the people of Canaan still lived among the Israelites. Verse 10 states: “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced labourers.”

We came across a similar situation in Joshua 9 with the Gibeonites, who made a treaty with Israel but became woodcutters and watercarriers to serve Israel. The meaning for us is that the lower or more outward, natural things of life are there to serve our spiritual life. They are not to be destroyed, because natural life is the arena in which we live out the beliefs and values that form our spiritual life (True Christian Religion 339).

The Canaanites in Gezer, who were forced to work for the Ephraimites, represent our lower nature. It is still active in us at times, rising up, showing itself, but we realize that this takes place so that it works for our spiritual growth and regeneration (Arcana Caelestia 5947).

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To many Protestant and Evangelical Italians, the Bibles translated by Giovanni Diodati are an important part of their history. Diodati’s first Italian Bible edition was printed in 1607, and his second in 1641. He died in 1649. Throughout the 1800s two editions of Diodati’s text were printed by the British Foreign Bible Society. This is the more recent 1894 edition, translated by Claudiana.