Joshua 13-14: The New Heaven and Earth of all saints

Joshua 13

Land Still to Be Conquered (for the 9 tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh):

ReubenGadManasseh

(COURTESY OF THE ESV STUDY BIBLE)

Joshua 12 was just a taster of these remaining chapters, as Joshua 13 opens with the statement that there remains much land to possess. What is more important is the LORD’s statement that Joshua is old; however, this mentioning of age is not arbitrary, but an indication that Joshua is nearing his time of sleeping. There have been several aged saints, especially the pre-Exodus patriarchs, but the LORD is explicitly saying that Yeshua’s time of human life is coming to an end. It is here that we can briefly reflect on the comparison between Joshua and Acts; that though Christ had gained much land, had provided the firstfruits of New Kingdom victory for the Christians in his years as man on earth, much more work had to be done in the End Times. Although much land has been gained for the Israelites, there are still persistent enemies whom the Israelites will not be totally able to displace (a look at Israel today is evidence enough) until New Creation.

V.1-6 thus outlines the remaining nations which possess these lands:

  • The regions of the Philistines,
  • and all those of the Geshurites (from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is counted as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron),
  • the Avvim, in the south, all the land of the Canaanites
  • Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites,
  • land of the Gebalites,
  • all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath,
  • all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians.

The general outline of the inheritance east of the Jordan for the Gadites, Reubenites, and half-tribe of Manasseh is between v.8-13. However upbeat it may seem that the narrator is outlining land yet to be conquered, it comes with a disclaimer in v.13:

13(CW) Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.”

Despite the sweeping victory of Joshua, the infidelity of Israel provides the omen that Israel as a nation cannot be the effective kingdom of priests, for only the true Christ can be the head of the true kingdom of priests, the invisible church which partakes in physical Israel thus far. The failure to root out the enemies politically is repeatedly mentioned in later chapters regarding the allotment to the different tribes as well, intimating an omen of sorts to the rocky relationship between Yahweh and Israel in the coming generations.

The Inheritance of the Levites

It is quite important to notice that despite the focus on Reuben, Gad and Manasseh in Joshua 13, we see a repeat of the inheritance of the Levites, as if indicating that the truth of these geographical allotments find their true meaning in what the Levites represent (Joshua 13:14; 32-33, and Joshua 14:3-4). They represent the spiritual truth, the Day Light of these shadows. God is indeed concerned with the physical abode of these Israelites, but He is not now trying to create the new kingdom on earth, at least not until the resurrection of the earth itself which has been groaning since the fall (Romans 8:22).

The Inheritance East of the Jordan (to the Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh) as according to Numbers 32 (c.f. map)

Tribe

Land

Reuben

Sharing the kingdom of Sihon with Gad

(v.15-23)

15And Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the people of Reuben according to their clans.

16So their territory was from Aroer,(CY) which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland by(CZ) Medeba;

17with Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the tableland;(DA)

Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, 18(DB) and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 19and(DC) Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20and(DD) Beth-peor, and(DE) the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth,

SUMMARY OF THE LAND: 21that is,(DF) all the cities of the tableland, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon,(DG) whom

Moses defeated with(DH) the leaders of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22(DI) Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.

Border of Reuben

23And the border of the people of Reuben was the Jordan as a boundary. This was the inheritance of the people of Reuben, according to their clans with their cities and villages.

Gadites

Sharing the rest of the kingdom of Sihon

(v.24-28)

24Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of Gad, to the people of Gad, according to their clans.

25(DJ) Their territory was Jazer,

and all the cities of Gilead,

and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of(DK) Rabbah,

26and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim,

and from(DL) Mahanaim to the territory of Debir,[e]

27and in the valley Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah,(DM) Succoth, and Zaphon,

Border of Gad

the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, having the Jordan as a boundary, to the lower end of the Sea of(DN) Chinnereth, eastward beyond the Jordan. 28This is the inheritance of the people of Gad according to their clans, with their cities and villages.

Half-tribe of Manasseh

29And Moses gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh. It was allotted to the half-tribe of the people of Manasseh according to their clans.

30Their region extended from(DO) Mahanaim, through all Bashan, the whole kingdom of Og king of Bashan,

and all(DP) the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities,

31and half Gilead,

and(DQ) Ashtaroth,

and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

These were allotted to the people of(DR) Machir the son of Manasseh for the half of the people of Machir according to their clans.

It is important to ask why these three particular tribes are the focus of the attention here. There is no coincidence when we realize that Gad, Manasseh and Reuben are all firstborns; Reuben is the first son of Jacob and Leah, Gad the first son of Jacob and Zilpah, and Manasseh the first son of Joseph. However, none of these firstborns are blessed in the same way as Joseph himself was blessed who was not the physical ‘firstborn’. Neither was Ephraim, the blessed of the two sons of Joseph in Genesis 48:17-20, the physical first-born.

The lesson taught, once again, is the physical vs. the invisible church. The physical first-born who does not hold onto Christ may not live the character of the true first-born, the true first-begetting, of the Son of the Father. Adam, the firstborn of creation; Israel, the firstborn of God; Christ, the true firstborn – and Israel is only the firstborn son of God if she takes her head as Christ, rather than Adam. Yet, Gad, Manasseh and Reuben have asked specifically for the land on the east of the Jordan, unlike the other tribes who happily settle with what they are given (especially the Levites who are repeatedly referred to). So while the Kingdom of Sihon and of Og in Bashan are separated amongst these three tribes, the irony is that these blessings are but a pale comparison to what the humble spiritually first-born Israelite is to receive. No ‘superior’ land east of the Jordan, though facing the sun, can defeat the true new heaven and earth lit by a perpetual light. Thus, almost in an entirely short summary (compared to the detail given to these two and a half-tribes) in Joshua 14:1-5 on the inheritance west of the Jordan, the focus is not on the land, but on what the land represents – to even have no land at all, because the Levites are awaiting the true new land where they can have eternal communion with the Trinity eye-to-eye and face-to-face. It is a discipline which they will undergo, preparing the rest of Israel to look at New Creation rather than the temporary Promised Land.

Joshua 14

Caleb’s Request and Inheritance

6Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the(EA) Kenizzite said to him, “You know(EB) what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD(EC) sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8But(ED) my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9And Moses swore on that day, saying,(EE) ‘Surely the land(EF) on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ 10And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive,(EG) just as he said, these(EH) forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11(EI) I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and(EJ) for going and coming. 12So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the(EK) Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”

V.6-11 is an amazing testimony of Caleb; not only does he outline the glory of his dependence on Yahweh, his purpose of taking the land in v.11-12 is combined with such an assurance of Yahweh’s victory over the Anakim. There is no spirit of fear in him, except the spirit of rejoicing and love (2 Timothy 1:7) from the Holy Spirit. V.11 in particular is a display of the LORD’s protection over Caleb – how can an old man like him be still as strong today as in the day that Moses had sent him? To compare an 85 to a 40 year old man? This is all His doing, who has the holy power to prevent the wearing off of creation (Deuteronomy 29:5), keeping things alive; though the entirety of the process of re-creation, or renewal, must go through death first then re-birth in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The choice of Hebron is interesting besides the fact of the LORD promising the land to him (v.12), but moreso because it is the land near where the patriarchs were buried. Matthew Henry provides insight on this point:

“Joshua was both a prince and a prophet, and upon both accounts it was proper for him to give Caleb his blessing, for the less is blessed of the better. Hebron was settled on Caleb and his heirs (Jos_14:14), because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And happy are we if we follow him. Note, Singular piety shall be crowned with singular favours. Now, 1. We are here told what Hebron had been, the city of Arba, a great man among the Anakim (Jos_14:15); we find it called Kirjath-arba (Gen_23:2), as the place where Sarah died. Hereabouts Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived most of their time in Canaan, and near to it was the cave of Machpelah, where they were buried, which perhaps had led Caleb hither when he went to spy out the land, and had made him covet this rather than any other part for his inheritance… We are afterwards told what Hebron was… It was one of the cities belonging to priests (Jos_21:13), and a city of refuge, Jos_20:7. When Caleb had it, he contented himself with the country about it, and cheerfully gave the city to the priests, the Lord’s ministers, thinking it could not be better bestowed, no, not upon his own children, nor that it was the less his own for being thus devoted to God… It was a royal city, and, in the beginning of David’s reign, the metropolis of the kingdom of Judah; thither the people resorted to him, and there he reigned seven years.”

These are therefore the spiritual implications behind the choice of Hebron, and an appropriate juxtaposition to chapter 13’s almost self-obsessed focus of Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Although Matthew Henry does not explicitly refer to this episode typologically or eschatologically, he has laid down the appropriate framework and observations. Jesus is the true prince and prophet to give us the land, and here Joshua’s giving of Hebron to Caleb is akin to Christ giving us the true land where we will once again meet the sleeping saints; not only this, but Caleb’s submission of the actual land to the priests displays his conscious knowledge of the importance of the priests, the joint importance of both Yeshua as prophet and prince, and the Levites as priesthood. So Hebron, in Joshua 14, bears such significance in enabling us to understand and sift (though the narrator is quiet on this issue) the importance of the geographical allocation against what land is given, and for what reasons exactly. The submission of Kiriath-arba, the city of Arba (the greatest of the Anakim) only adds on the strength of the imagery; that what had been temporarily held by Satan was in fact always Christ’s. Adam Clarke’s study of the name provides a different but important perspective as well:

“That is, the city of Arba, or rather, the city of the four, for thus קרית ארבע kiryath arba may be literally translated. It is very likely that this city had its name from four Anakim, gigantic or powerful men, probably brothers, who built or conquered it. This conjecture receives considerable strength from Jos_15:14, where it is said that Caleb drove from Hebron the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai: now it is quite possible that Hebron had its former name, Kirjath-arba, the city of the four, from these three sons and their father, who, being men of uncommon stature or abilities, had rendered themselves famous by acts proportioned to their strength and influence in the country. It appears however from Jos_15:13 that Arba was a proper name, as there he is called the father of Anak. The Septuagint call Hebron the metropolis of the Enakim, μητροπολις των Ενακιμ. It was probably the seat of government, being the residence of the above chiefs, from whose conjoint authority and power it might have been called חברון chebron; as the word חבר chabar literally signifies to associate, to join in fellowship, and appears to be used, Job_41:6, for “associated merchants, or merchants’ companions, who traveled in the same caravan.” Both these names are expressive, and serve to confirm the above conjecture. No notice need be taken of the tradition that this city was called the city of the four because it was the burial-place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Such traditions confute themselves.”

Clarke’s observations only enhance our understanding of the strength of Caleb’s faith in Yahweh. The LORD had accomplished, through him alone, the victory over these giants. However, on a conjecture, it is interesting to note Clarke’s final observation that Hebron is also the burial-place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and perhaps sensus plenior may be applied to the inhabitants of Kiriath-arba for unknowingly naming the city after the patriarchs rather than actual Anakim giants. Unfortunately, the text is sparse on providing whether Kiriath-arba was knowingly named after the four spiritual giants of the Old Testament as well as giving credit to Arba, the strongest of the Anakim. Whatever the case may be, the layered irony gives the reader insight into the importance of Hebron, the four patriarchs definitively more significant than the four pagan giants.

13Then Joshua(EL) blessed him, and he gave(EM) Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day,(EN) because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. 15(EO) Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba.[f] (Arba[g] was the greatest man among the Anakim.)(EP) And the land had rest from war.

A brief point of contention lies in the term ‘Kenizzite’ in v.14 – some saying that Caleb reigns from the tribes listed in Genesis 15:19, although the LXX adds a qualifier which says “he who goes against the current” (ό διακεχωιζιδμένος), perhaps focusing not on his foreign nationality, but on his actions as going against the popular rebellion of Israel against Yahweh.

Like Joshua 11, Joshua 14 ends with shaqat rather than Sabbath – indicating temporary stillness, idleness of the land; but by no means a long-lasting Sabbath which has yet to come.

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Joshua 13-14: The New Heaven and Earth of all saints

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