Joshua 11: Joshua conquers the entire land.
In this chapter, the Canaanite kings of the north, east and west heard that Israel had conquered all of the southern Canaanite territories. Jabin, king of Hazor, called upon the other Canaanite kingdoms to join forces and attack Israel with a great army.
The Lord reassured Joshua, “Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel” (verse 6). So Joshua counterattacked, and Israel defeated the Canaanites just as the Lord had said.
The rest of the chapter is an account of Joshua’s victories, now here, now there. Israel destroyed each of the Canaanite cities and territories and not one of them was left undefeated (See Swedenborg’s work, The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 161-164). In all of Canaan, only the Gibeonites were spared because they had made a peace treaty with Israel. The chapter closes with these words: “So Joshua took the whole land according to all that the Lord had said to Moses, and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land had rest from war” (verse 23).
Now we turn to the spiritual meaning of all this, and its meaning for us. Because of our inherited, human nature, each of us has internal things we have to contend with in our natural life. These Canaanites - the faults we must overcome - are described by the compass points: north, south, east and west. Here are the spiritual meanings of the four cardinal directions (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 141-153):
West = less love
East = greater love
North = less light and wisdom
South = greater light and wisdom
Swedenborg tells us that heaven is organized by this principle. Angels with the clearest perception of love live in the eastern region of heaven, while those with a more hazy understanding live in the west. The same thing applies to the north/south axis; those in a “clear light of wisdom” live in the south, and those in a “dim light of wisdom” live in the north (Heaven and Hell 148). These poles represent angels’ states of love and wisdom, and their use. Just like people on earth, angels experience varying states of love and wisdom - sometimes more, sometimes less - but with angels this leads to them turning again to the Lord to acknowledge that he is their God.
The same pattern exists in hell, but instead of love and wisdom there is self-love (or even hatred) and false thinking from this distorted love. In hell, the degree of intensity in these states is between the rage to dominate and the exhaustion of failing.
In our life on earth, we experience states of both heaven and hell. As we are only partly regenerated, we rapidly switch between these states because of our emotions and the upheavals of life in this world. This chapter about the conflict between Israel and the Canaanites represents our own, personal decisions about what will be the ruling influence in our lives - heaven or hell (See Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 5982).
The end of this chapter offers two important statements describing the conflict between heaven and hell. The first one (in verse 20) says the Lord hardened the hearts of Israel’s enemies so that they came to attack, and consequently were destroyed. This tells us that we have to see our evils for what they are in order to turn away from them (See Swedenborg’s unpublished work, Charity 179-180).
The second statement (verses 21-22) says that Joshua completely destroyed the Anakim, except beyond the borders of the land. The Anakim were giants, and they stand for those enormous tensions and rages which evil spirits from hell bring us at times. This (reassuringly) helps us see that we are not like that ourselves, but we could be if we let those evil spirits make a home in our hearts and minds (Arcana Caelestia 2909).