Joshua 13

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1 Now Joshua was old and advanced in years; and the LORD said to him Thou art old and advanced in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

2 This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,

3 From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even to the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:

4 From the south all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, to Aphek to the borders of the Amorites:

5 And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon towards the sun-rising, from Baal-gad under mount Hermon to the entering into Hamath.

6 And the inhabitants of the hill-country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot to the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,

8 With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.

9 From Aroer that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba to Dibon;

10 And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, to the border of the children of Ammon;

11 And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan to Salcah;

12 All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants. For these did Moses smite, and cast them out.

13 Nevertheless, the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

14 Only to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said to them.

15 And Moses gave to the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.

16 And their border was from Aroer that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;

17 Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon,

18 And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,

19 And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zareth-shahar in the mount of the valley,

20 And Beth-peor, and Ashdoth-pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth,

21 And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.

22 Balaam also the son of Beor, the sooth-sayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword, among them that were slain by them.

23 And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and its border. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and their villages.

24 And Moses gave inheritance to the tribe of Gad, even to the children of Gad according to their families.

25 And their border was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, to Aroer that is before Rabbah;

26 And from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir;

27 And in the valley, Beth-aram, and Beth-nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and its border, even to the edge of the sea of Cinneroth, on the other side of Jordan eastward.

28 This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

29 And Moses gave inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half-tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.

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

31 And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining to the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.

32 These are the countries which Moses distributed for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side of Jordan by Jericho eastward.

33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said 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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