Joshua 21

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1 And the heads of the fathers of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers of the tribes, to the sons of Israel;

2 and they spoke to them in Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, Jehovah commanded by the hand of Moses, to give to us cities to dwell·​·in, and the suburbs* thereof for our beasts.

3 And the sons of Israel gave to the Levites out of their inheritance at the mouth of Jehovah these cities and their suburbs;

4 and the lot came·​·out for the families of the Kohathites; and it was to the sons of Aaron the priest, of the Levites, out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeonites, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, by the lot, thirteen cities.

5 And for the remaining sons of Kohath, by lot, ten cities, out·​·of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out·​·of the tribe of Dan, and out·​·of half the tribe of Manasseh.

6 And the sons of Gershon had by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar, and from the tribe of Asher, and from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

7 The sons of Merari according to their families out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

8 And the sons of Israel gave unto the Levites by lot these cities and their suburbs, as Jehovah commanded by the hand of Moses.

9 And they gave out of the tribe of the sons of Judah, and out of the tribe of the sons of Simeon, these cities which are called by name.

10 And the sons of Aaron, from the families of the Kohathites of the sons of Levi had them; for theirs was the first lot.

11 And they gave to them the walled·​·city of Arba*, the father of the Anak, it is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah, and the suburbs thereof all around it.

12 And the field of the city and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.

13 And they gave to the sons of Aaron the priest, Hebron and her suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Libnah and her suburbs.

14 And Jattir and her suburbs, and Eshtemoa and her suburbs,

15 and Holon and her suburbs, and Debir and her suburbs,

16 and Ain and her suburbs, and Juttah and her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh and her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.

17 And from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon and her suburbs, Gibea and her suburbs,

18 Anathoth and her suburbs, and Almon and her suburbs, four cities.

19 All the cities of the sons of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities and her suburbs.

20 And the families of the sons of Kohath, the Levites who remained of the sons of Kohath, had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.

21 And they gave to them the city of refuge for the manslayer, Shechem and her suburbs, in Mount Ephraim, and Gezer and her suburbs,

22 and Kibzaim and her suburbs, and Beth-choron and her suburbs; four cities.

23 And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh and her suburbs, and Gibbethon and her suburbs,

24 Aijalon and her suburbs, and Gath-rimmon and her suburbs; four cities.

25 And from the half tribe of Manasseh, Taanach and her suburbs, and Gath-rimmon and her suburbs; two cities.

26 All the cities were ten and their suburbs for the families of the sons of Kohath that remained.

27 And to the sons of Gershon, the families of the Levites, from the half tribe of Manasseh, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Golan in Bashan, and her suburbs, and Beeshterah and her suburbs, two cities.

28 And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon and her suburbs, Dabareh and her suburbs,

29 Jarmuth and her suburbs, and En-gannim and her suburbs; four cities.

30 And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal and her suburbs, Abdon and her suburbs,

31 Helkath and her suburbs, and Rehob and her suburbs; four cities.

32 And out of the tribe of Naphtali, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Kedesh in Galilee, and her suburbs, and Chammoth-dor and her suburbs, and Kartan and her suburbs; three cities.

33 All the cities of the Gershonite according to their families were thirteen cities and their suburbs.

34 And to the families of the sons of Merari, the remaining Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam and her suburbs, and Kartah and her suburbs,

35 Dimnah and her suburbs, Nahalal and her suburbs; four cities.

36 And from the tribe of Reuben, Bezer and her suburbs, and Jahaz and her suburbs,

37 Kedemoth and her suburbs, and Mephaath and her suburbs; four cities.

38 And out of the tribe of Gad, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Ramoth in Gilead and her suburbs, and Mahanaim and her suburbs,

39 Heshbon and her suburbs, Jazer and her suburbs; four cities in all.

40 All the cities for the sons of Merari, according to their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, and their lot was twelve cities.

41 All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the sons of Israel were forty and eight cities and their suburbs.

42 These cities were city by city and their suburbs all around them; thus were all these cities.

43 And Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which He promised to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it and dwelt therein.

44 And Jehovah gave them rest all around according to all He promised unto their fathers; and there stood not a man before them of all their enemies; Jehovah gave all their enemies into their hand.

45 Not a word fell from any good word which Jehovah had spoken to the house of Israel; all came to pass.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 21      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 21: The cities of the Levite priests and the end of the settlement.

In this chapter, the last remaining part of the settlement was completed: the provision for the Levites, the priests of Israel. This tribe had been appointed priests because only they had answered the call, “Who is on the side of the Lord?” when the Israelites had been worshipping the golden calf in the wilderness (see Exodus 32:26).

Much of the chapter is spent listing the cities given to the three sons of Aaron, who was appointed high priest. Each extended family of Aaron’s sons was given about sixteen cities. It seems very significant that a lot of these cities were the same ones given to the other tribes, and were also the cities of refuge.

Levi’s name means ‘joined’, which is very suitable for the Levite priests, who received cities in every tribal territory. This meant that the presence of priests was everywhere (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 342).

Spiritually speaking, this distribution is a wonderful illustration that our spirit lives throughout our whole body. Every part of us is alive! Every single thing in our body, from one blood cell to our heart and lungs, is maintained by our spirit, which itself is maintained by the influx of the Lord’s life. The function of everything in our body is in a perfect correspondence with the kingdom of heaven.

So, spiritually, the Levites stand for the presence of the Lord everywhere, in everything. This underlines the point that everything in the natural world - even the cities and territories described in this chapter of Joshua - reflect something about God and heaven (see Swedenborg’s Apocalypse Revealed 194). But there is another important meaning for the distribution of the priestly Levites in cities all through the tribal territories: we must keep on acknowledging that everything is a blessing from the Lord, that everything we do is for God, and that the Lord alone does what is truly good (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 91).

After the distribution of cities to the Levites, Israel was fully established in the land of Canaan. The rest of this chapter is a consolidating statement which is worth including in full:

v43. “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.
v44. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that he had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
v45. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

These are words of fulfillment, culmination, assurance and blessing. Everything here traces back to the Lord. The Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, granted them victory over their enemies, and gave them the Land of Canaan; the Lord had spoken in complete truth. “All came to pass.”

This final statement is a promise of our own capacity for regeneration and spiritual progress. We are able to overcome our natural desires and selfish states; we have been established in our life with the ability to understand and do what is good. In devoting ourselves to the Lord, we find strength to see that He will never fail us, and will change us for the better. ‘All came to pass’ is our affirmation that our life is always under God’s care and providence (Arcana Caelestia 977).

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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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