Joshua 10: The five kings and how the sun stood still.
After hearing that Gibeon - a sizeable city - had made a peace treaty with Israel, the king of Jerusalem called on four other Canaanite kings to join him in attacking Gibeon. The Gibeonites asked Joshua to remember his promise to keep them safe, and Israel did so, coming to their defense. A great battle ensued at Gilgal. With the Lord’s help, the Israelites defeated the five Canaanite kings. As the Canaanites were fleeing, the Lord sent large hailstones raining down on them, killing more soldiers than had died in the battle. Then, Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still until the enemy was defeated, and it stopped moving across the sky for one whole day.
The defeated kings fled, and hid in a cave at Makkeda. Joshua commanded his men to roll stones over the cave entrance, and to attack the rest of their fleeing enemies. After returning to the cave, Joshua’s men brought the kings out of hiding and stood on their necks, to demonstrate that the Lord would vanquish all of Israel’s enemies. Joshua hanged them, put them back in the cave, and once again sealed the entrance with stones. The rest of the chapter chronicles Israel’s defeat of many other Canaanite cities and kings.
This story shows us that life is amazingly connected and full of consequences. Spiritual life has its share of unforeseen consequences too. When we affirm our wish to follow the Lord, evil spirits will try to fill our minds with distressing thoughts to pull us away from Him. Sometimes this can lead us to rise up and resist our decision to follow the Lord (See Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 1683).
The part of the chapter about the sun standing still represents our need to remain focused on the Lord during our struggles with temptation and regeneration. The Lord is our sun, and normally our awareness of the Lord rises and sets. This brings times when we feel the Lord’s presence strongly, and also times when we feel it is up to us to act as we wish. This is our normal rhythm, and it is right for us to have this cycle.
When we are involved in a spiritual crisis, we need to ensure that our mind’s focus stays with the Lord until we have made it through. This is like our sense of the Lord’s presence standing still ‘for a day’ in our mind’s sky, so that we will not lose our direction. This enabled Joshua and Israel to be victorious, just as it will with us (See Swedenborg’s work, Divine Love and Wisdom 105).
When the Lord sent hailstones - frozen water - on the Canaanites, it represents the way in which false ideas from evil intentions backfire on the attacker of good, because evil is notoriously self-destructive. One lie leads to more another, until the wrongdoer is exposed and judged (See Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell 457).
The cave of Makkedah, where the five kings hid, also holds spiritual significance because of its name, which means ‘the excellent place of shepherds.’ Shepherding represents the Lord’s care for us and our care for each other. Evil may hide behind a semblance of good but it can’t last. Joshua and his men later brought the kings out of the cave and hanged them, signifying that all true life comes from the Lord and His goodness, and He will bring an end to every evil and false way (Divine Love and Wisdom 363).
Israel’s subsequent conquest of other Canaanite cities depicts the follow-through that takes place after an important point in our regeneration: a decision, a refusal, an admission, a prayer to God. This results in a period of witnessing the Lord’s blessings, which naturally follow once we have affirmed our intention to be with the Lord in our life. The chapter ends, “All these kings Joshua took at one time because the Lord God fought for Israel.”