by Rev. David Millar


The Israelites having now arrived at the borders of the promised land are given a new leader in Joshua. Moses, who led them out of centuries of bondage and servitude in Egypt, through the wilderness for 40 years, has died on the borders of Canaan. Before them lies a land flowing with milk and honey, yet the land is also populated by hostile tribes who will need to be overcome before the Israelites can live in the land in peace and security. The Book of Joshua can be divided into three parts as follows,

Chapters 1-4 deal with the miraculous events involved in the crossing of the Israelites into the land of Canaan through the Jordan river and a mission to spy out the land.

Chapters 5-12 deal with the conquest of the land beginning with the wall city of Jericho. They then suffered defeat at Ai and had to regroup and expunge the sin in their camp that led to this. The conquest progressed as they moved throughout the land but it is notable that despite the Lord’s desire that they possess the whole of the land they failed to do so preferring to rest in a partial conquest that would see their enemies gain in strength only to return to threaten their peace time and time again.

Chapters 13-24 deal with the division of the land amongst the Israelite tribes. Some of the cities are set aside specifically for the priesthood (Levites) who, owing to the stipulations around their priestly function, did not receive an allocation of land. The passing of Joshua sees the close of this period in the history of Israel.

The deeper meaning of this book has to do with using the Lord’s Word to fight against those things within us that seek to prevent us from entering more fully into the life of heaven. Every battle the sons of Israel fought, every enemy they came against represents various forms of false beliefs and self-centred motivations that people have to face in themselves if they are to overcome the power that the loves of self and the world exert over love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour. In Joshua we have represented the Lord’s Word as the Divine Truth that fights for our salvation. It is of note that the name Jesus is the Latinised form of Joshua which means Jehovah our Saviour.

From the work the Arcana Coelestia 6306 we have this teaching…

As regards the Amorites, be it known that by them is signified evil, and also by the Canaanites; and by the rest of the nations in that land which are mentioned in the Word are signified various kinds of evil and also of falsity. Such things were represented by the nations when the sons of Israel came into possession of the land of Canaan, for the reason that, while the sons of Israel represented heavenly things, those nations represented infernal things, and in this way the land of Canaan represented every state of the other life; and because the nations represented infernal things, they were given to the curse, and it was forbidden to enter into a covenant with those which remained.