Joshua 3

1Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

Now the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16  the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan

Observation – What does it say?

  • The Israelites went from Shittim to the Jordan early in the morning.
  • The Israelites camped at the Jordan for 3 days before crossing the Jordan. The officers went through the camp telling everyone how they were to know they were to move out.
  • The people were to follow the ark
  • The Levitical priests were going to carry the ark
  • The signal to move out was the ark being carried by the priests.
  • There were to follow the ark at a distance 2000 cubits or just under 1000 yards or 10 football fields
  • The ark was leading the way because the people did not know which way to go.
  • The people did not know which way to go because they had never been there before.
  • Joshua told the people that the next day God would do wonders.
  • The people were to consecrate themselves in preparation for God doing wonders
  • Joshua told the priest to pick the ark and move out ahead of the people.
  • The priests did as Joshua said
  • God told Joshua starting that day He would exalt Joshua in the eyes of the people of Israel.
  • The reason God was exalting Joshua was so that the people would know that God was with Joshua as God was with Moses.
  • God told Joshua he was to tell the priests caring the ark to stand in the Jordan and not move.
  • Joshua told the Israelites that the Jordan would stop flowing once the priest enter the river
  • The fact that the river would stop flowing would be a sign that God would dispossess the current occupants of Canaan
  • The people were to choose 1 man from each tribe but why?
  • The Jordan was over its bank
  • The Jordan overflows its bank every year during harvest time.
  • The waters of the Jordan were dammed up when the priests stepped into the waters
  • The waters were dammed up at the Adam
  • Adam was a city a long ways up stream
  • Adam was close to Zarethan
  • The people crossed the Jordan on dry ground
  • The people crossed the Jordan opposite Jericho
  • The priest stood in the middle of where the Jordan was supposed to be  until the entire nation of Israel crossed over

Interpretation – What does it mean?

The wording in verse 4 is a little weird but the Hebrew does not have punctuation the thought do not come near it would appear that better belong to the preceding sentence. The word “that you would then the reason to follow not the reason to leave not come near.

The ark symbolized the presence of God having go before the Israelites was a representation that God was going before them.  The people were not allow anywhere near the ark. They needed to stay nearly 10 football field lengths away from the ark. God is holy and the people were not.

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