Sunday, December 24, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 18

Held in place on both sides
write yourslef into the land
with your feet

[For full chapter, click here
"How long will you be slack in going to possess the land that God, the Lord of your fathers, has given you?" Joshua demands, when the nation finally "assembles" to recreate a national center. Ostensobly, this is a criticsm that reflects back on Joshua himslef--why has he been slack in completing the allotment that he began?
He continues, "Appoint for yourself three men for each tribe, and I will send them, and they shall rise, and walk through the land, and write it according to their lot, and come to me." Inheritence, it seems, is not passive. Like Abraham, the father to whom the land was promised, the tribes must "rise and walk" (hithalkh--a reflexive form of the verb, iimplying a self-reinforced walking, becoming walkers). And--as in Michel de Certeau "Walking in the City"--this walking becomes a kind of  language, the appointed men "writing" the land. The inherited land is not nuetral territory, but a textual landscape.
Judah's inheritence begins with Caleb's personal connection to Hebron, and the gifting of his daughter to the one who could conquer Kiryat Sefer (lit. "The City of the Book"); Joseph's inheritence holds within it all the painful history of favoritism and usurpation, as well as Jacob's choice of Ephraim. Now the other tribes must find their own viceral connection to the personal tract of land that "God, the Lord of your fathers, has given to you." Only then can the land be their own lot.]

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