And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan
Not to the bank, which was overflowed, but to the extremity of the water overflowing:
and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim
of the water;
which was doubtless the first they came to, and not the brim or extremity of it on the other side:
for Jordan overfloweth all its banks all the time of harvest;
that is, of barley harvest, as appears from the time of year; for it was in the first month, the month Nisan, or Abib, which answers to part of March, and April, it used to overflow, ( 1 Chronicles 12:15 ) ; and it was now the tenth day of that month, ( Joshua 4:19 ) ; on the sixteenth of which, at the time of the passover, the sheaf of the firstfruits of barley harvest was offered up, ( Leviticus 23:10 Leviticus 23:11 ) ; the inundation continued all the time of harvest; and so Aristeas F23 testifies, that
``the river being filled, it overflows as the Nile in the time of harvest, and waters much of the country:''it overflows its banks both on the one side and on the other, the eastern and western shores. This overflow is supposed to be occasioned either by the latter rains, which fell about this time; or rather by the snow on Mount Lebanon melting at this time of the year, when the sun has great strength in those parts, and which poured down in great quantities into this river, that took its rise from thence. Josephus
``it generally happens in the month Nisan; that is, from the middle of March to the middle of April, the time of the first harvest;''but Mr. Maundrell F26, who was upon the spot in 1697, and at the proper time of its overflowing, perceived nothing of it. He says,
``there is a small descent, which you may fitly call the, first and outermost bank of Jordan, as far as which it may be supposed the river does, or at least did anciently, overflow; but at present (whether it was because the river has by its rapidity of current worn its channel deeper than it was formerly, or whether because its waters are diverted some other way) it seems to have forgot its ancient greatness; for we could discern no sign or probability of such overflowings when we were there, which was the thirtieth of March, being the proper time for these inundations; nay, so far was the river from overflowing, that it ran at least two yards below the brink of the channel.''However, at this time of the passage of the children of Israel through it, it was overflowing; which made the miracle the greater.
F23 Hist. de 72. Interpret. p. 41.
F24 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22.
F25 Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 1. p. 335, 336.
F26 Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 81, 82.