Joshua 3

Crossing the Jordan

1 Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove[a] with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing.
2 After three days the officers went through the camp
3 and commanded the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it.
4 But keep a distance of about 1,000 yards[b] between yourselves and the ark. Don't go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven't traveled this way before."[c]
5 Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow."
6 Then he said to the priests, "Take the ark of the covenant and go on ahead of the people." So they carried the ark of the covenant and went ahead of them.
7 The Lord spoke to Joshua: "Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses.
8 Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the waters,[d] stand in the Jordan.' "
9 Then Joshua told the Israelites, "Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God."
10 He said, "You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites
11 when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan.
12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe.
13 When the feet[e] of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan's waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up [in] a mass."
14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people.
15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge
16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up [in] a mass that extended as far as[f] Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho.
17 The priests carrying the ark of the Lord's covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Joshua 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The Israelites come to Jordan. (1-6) The Lord encourages joshua-Joshua encourages the people. (7-13) The Israelites pass through Jordan on dry land. (14-17)

Verses 1-6 The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place. The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer's feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also. They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God's love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Verses 7-13 The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. This must be done in such a way as never was done, but in the dividing of the Red sea. That miracle is here repeated; God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, as to begin it; the WORD of the Lord was as truly with Joshua as with Moses. God's appearances for his people ought to encourage faith and hope. God's work is perfect, he will keep his people. Jordan's flood cannot keep out Israel, Canaan's force cannot turn them out again.

Verses 14-17 Jordan overflowed all its banks. This magnified the power of God, and his kindness to Israel. Although those who oppose the salvation of God's people have all advantages, yet God can and will conquer. This passage over Jordan, as an entrance to Canaan, after their long, weary wanderings in the wilderness, shadowed out the believer's passage through death to heaven, after he has finished his wanderings in this sinful world. Jesus, typified by the ark, hath gone before, and he crossed the river when it most flooded the country around. Let us treasure up experiences of His faithful and tender care, that they may help our faith and hope in the last conflict.

Footnotes 6

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA 3

Joshua removed from Shittim to Jordan, where he stayed three days, Jos 3:1,2; the people are directed to move when they saw the ark bore by the priests, and what distance they should keep from it, Jos 3:3,4; are bid to sanctify themselves against the morrow, when wonders would be wrought, Jos 3:5; and the priests are ordered to take up the ark, Jos 3:6; Joshua is encouraged by the Lord, and instructed to command the priests when they come to Jordan to stand still in it, Jos 3:7,8; and he declares to all the people, as a token that God would drive the Canaanites from before them, that as soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark should rest in the waters of Jordan, they should be parted, and make way for them to pass through, Jos 3:9-13; which accordingly came to pass, so that all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, Jos 3:14-17.

Joshua 3 Commentaries