Archetype 7: The Army

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Once when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?” The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

—Joshua 5:13–15

The Reading

The reading describes a vision of Joshua. Joshua was one of Moses’s commanders and trusted assistants. But now Moses is dead and Joshua is the leader of the Israelites. He has been charged with leading them out of the desert into the Promised Land. His first challenge now lies directly in front of him: the city of Jericho. He has been called by God to take this city. But how? The city is surrounded by walls that seem ten miles high and a mile thick. He stares at the mammoth fortress in front of him. How can he possibly conquer this well-fortified city? He then has this vision. He sees a man. The man tells Joshua that he is a commander of the army of God.

The Hexagram

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This hexagram is made up of the trigrams Chaos, on the bottom, and Wisdom, on the top. The image of Wisdom is Earth, and of Chaos, Water. This is a picture of water beneath the earth, in deep underground springs of great strength that can be called upon in times of need.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To bring together a great mass of people and organize them into a cohesive force.
  • To discipline those people not through force, but through devotion.
  • To be sure that the commander has the full trust of the ruler.
  • To gather spiritual strength that will capture the love of the people and flame their enthusiasm for the difficult task at hand.
  • To recognize the danger of the task and the possibility of destruction and devastation.
  • To understand that war is to be used only as a last resort.
  • To remember that a prosperous people are a strong people.
  • To rule gently and govern humanely.
  • To be merciful in victory.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position reminds that any military enterprise starts by establishing order. Once it is clear that a valid cause exists, the troops must be organized and discipline must be established. Without organization and discipline, success is impossible.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position tells how the leader should lead. The leader of the army must be in the thick of the struggle and in touch with the soldiers, sharing the good as well as the bad. The leader also needs the recognition of the ultimate authority, just as Joshua in the reading was chosen by God. When receiving a decoration, the wise commander receives it on behalf of the whole army, and thus shares in the glory.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position warns that defeat occurs when someone other than the chosen leader interferes with the command. The proper chain of command serves an important purpose. When it is bypassed, defeat results.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position recommends retreat in the face of overwhelming superior strength. The alternative is conquest and chaos. It is not a sign of courage to engage in a hopeless struggle; it is a sign of Ego.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position suggests a response to an invasion that has occurred without provocation. When this has occurred, defense and even punishment are justified. But punishment must never degenerate into wanton slaughter. Even when one has fought well and with bravery, unnecessary cruelty leads to misfortune. The army must be directed and held in check by an experienced and compassionate leader who understands when to fight, when to punish, and when to forgive.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position says that victory has been won, but even in victory, there are risks. When the spoils of war are divided, there is an opportunity for unscrupulous people to build a power base. This is avoided by paying them off in money rather than in power or privileges. Thus, they are treated fairly but not given an opportunity to manipulate the situation.

Other interpretations of Archetype 7:

Internal Links:

  • Return to the Hexagram Index Table [click here].
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Reproduced with permission from Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching copyright (c) 2015 Roger Sessions.