Joshua 1

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1 Now it happened after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying,

2 "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I give to them, even to the children of Israel.

3 I have given you every place that the sole of your foot will tread on, as I told Moses.

4 From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border.

5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you.

6 "Be strong and courageous; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded you. Don't turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

9 Haven't I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Don't be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go."

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,

11 "Pass through the midst of the camp, and command the people, saying, 'Prepare food; for within three days you are to Pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which Yahweh your God gives you to possess it.'"

12 Joshua spoke to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, saying,

13 "Remember the word which Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, saying, 'Yahweh your God gives you rest, and will give you this land.

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock, shall live in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan; but you shall pass over before your brothers armed, all the mighty men of valor, and shall help them

15 until Yahweh has given your brothers rest, as he has given you, and they have also possessed the land which Yahweh your God gives them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession, and possess it, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.'"

16 They answered Joshua, saying, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

17 Just as we listened to Moses in all things, so will we listen to you. Only may Yahweh your God be with you, as he was with Moses.

18 Whoever rebels against your commandment, and doesn't listen to your words in all that you command him, he shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous."


Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 1      

Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff and Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua Chapter 1: God Commissions Joshua

The book of Joshua is all about entering, conquering, and settling in a new land. The Israelites are to go into and live in the land which God had promised to give them, and where their forebears had dwelt many centuries before.

This chapter kicks off the story. Joshua has taken on the leadership of the Children of Israel, and he is commissioned to lead the people across the river Jordan and to take the land.

The inner meaning of this story is not a political one but, because it is in the Bible, it’s a personal or spiritual one. The land of Canaan represents our own personal life (see Apocalypse Explained 569[5]). We have some high ideals and good intentions, which are represented by the people of Israel, and we have some of the common human failings - being self-centred, critical, greedy, judgmental (you name it!). These traits are represented in the Book of Joshua by the several tribes of Canaan who have taken up residence there while Israel was in Egypt. Their tribal names have meanings like ‘low-lying’, and ‘mud-dwellers’. Conquering them symbolizes our need – with God’s help – to overcome our low-life human shortcomings and instead be led by God’s truths (Arcana Caelestia 4816).

Joshua is commissioned by God to lead the people (Arcana Caelestia 8595). Moses has died, and now Joshua is in charge. In commissioning him, God describes several things that we also need to relate to personally. First, we are told we need to cross the river Jordan to go into the land. A river is a very definite boundary and this tells us that there is a sharp distinction between our old life and our new life, without shades of grey.

Next Joshua is told that every place your foot treads upon shall be yours. This brings out our need to use God’s truths practically by living and doing them rather than intellectually just thinking about them, because our ‘foot’ is the lowest point of our body which directly touches the ground (see Heaven and Hell 97). The ground we walk on is life itself.

Then, the borders of the land of Canaan are described by namem and these give us ideas about our need to be challenged (wilderness), to think well (Lebanon), to do good (Hittites), and much more (the Great Sea). Then God says that if we make our decision to live God’s truths, nothing will be able to stand in our way.

After this come the famous words ‘Be strong and very courageous’ (Arcana Caelestia 6343). These come several times in chapter 1, to encourage us and to hold us in the strength of God’s power. We are also told not to turn to the right hand or the left, meaning that we are to obey God and do what is right without deviating. After a great start we can so easily slow down and turn away.

The Book of the Law shall not depart from our mouth but we must meditate on it day and night and keep it in our mouth, in our mind, our heart and our actions and our intentions.

Joshua then gives orders to the leaders to get the people ready to go. This means, for us, that our realisation that we must follow God and conquer our life needs to trickle down from our mind into every part of us in the smallest detail of this and this and even that. And to always be ready.

The last part of chapter 1 is about some of Israel’s tribes – Reubenites, Gadites and half of Manasseh. Earlier on, these tribes made the decision that they would rather settle on the east side of the river Jordan where there were good pastures. Moses had told them ‘Yes’ but now Joshua says that before they do, all the men must go with everybody into Canaan and fight and only then return over the Jordan to be with their wives and children and flocks.

This is telling us that there is place in our lives for external pleasures and possessions, but only when we have owned and lived the things of God first (Arcana Caelestia 870).

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