Joshua 13

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1 And Joshua was·​·old, and came·​·into days; and Jehovah said to him, Thou art·​·old, and come·​·into days, and the land that is left is· very ·much to be possessed.

2 This is the land that is left; all the boundaries of the Philistines and all the Geshurite.

3 From Shichor which is before Egypt, and even·​·to the border of Ekron northward, is reckoned to the Canaanite, five satraps of the Philistines; the Gazathite, and the Ashdodite, the Eshkalonite, the Gittite, and the Ekronite, and the Avim.

4 From the south all the land of the Canaanite, and Mearah which belongs to the Zidonians, even·​·to Aphek, even·​·to the border of the Amorite;

5 and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the rising of the sun from Baal-gad under Mount Hermon, until one comes to Ḥamath;

6 all who dwelt·​·in the mountain from Lebanon even·​·to Misrephoth-maim, all the Zidonians; I will dispossess them from before the sons of Israel; only let it fall to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

7 And now, part this land for an inheritance for the nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh.

8 With him the Reubenite and the Gadite have taken their inheritance which Moses gave them across Jordan toward the sunrise, as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them.

9 From Aroer, which is by the lip of the brook Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the brook, and all the plateau of Medeba to Dibon.

10 And all the cities of Siḥon, king of the Amorite who reigned in Heshbon, to the border of the sons of Ammon.

11 And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurite, and the Maachathite and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan to Salchah.

12 All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei; he was left of the remnant of the Rephaim; and Moses smote them and dispossessed them.

13 And the sons of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurite and the Maachathite; and Geshur and Maachah dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.

14 Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance; the fire·​·offerings of Jehovah, the God of Israel, are his inheritance as He spoke unto him.

15 And Moses gave unto the tribe of the sons of Reuben according to their families.

16 And their border is from Aroer, which is by the lip of the brook of Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the brook, and all the plateau by Medeba;

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

18 and Jahaz, and Kedemoth and Mephaath,

19 and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shachar in the mountain of the valley,

20 and Beth-peor, and the watercourses of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth,

21 and all the cities of the plateau, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorite who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the chiefs of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who dwelt in the land.

22 And Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, the sons of Israel killed with the sword upon their slain.

23 And the border of the sons of Reuben was the Jordan and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the sons of Reuben for their families, the cities and their villages.

24 And Moses gave to the tribe of Gad, to the sons of Gad for their families;

25 and the border for them was Jaazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the sons of Ammon even·​·to Aroer which is against the face of Rabbah;

26 and from Heshbon even·​·to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim; and from Mahanaim even·​·to the border for Debir;

27 and in the valley, Beth-haram, and Beth-nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the remainder of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, the Jordan and its border, even·​·to the edge of the sea of Chinnereth across the Jordan toward the sunrise.

28 This is the inheritance of the sons of Gad, according·​·to their families, the cities and their villages.

29 And Moses gave an inheritance to the half tribe of Manasseh; and it was for the half tribe* of the sons of Manasseh according·​·to their families.

30 And their border was from Mahanaim, all of Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the hamlets of Jair which are in Bashan, sixty cities;

31 and half Gilead, and Ashtaroth and Edrei, cities from the kingdom of Og in Bashan; for the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh, for half of the sons of Machir for their families.

32 These are what Moses, in the deserts of Moab, across the Jordan near Jericho toward the sunrise, gave·​·for·​·an·​·inheritance.

33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave not an inheritance; Jehovah, the God of Israel, He is their inheritance, 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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.