Joshua 1

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1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,

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

3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

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

5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

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

11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall Pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,

13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, the LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;

15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.

17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.

18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.


Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 1      

By 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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