Joshua 3:17

17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Read Joshua 3:17 Using Other Translations

And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.

What does Joshua 3:17 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Joshua 3:17

And the priests that bare the ark of the Lord stood firm on
dry ground in the midst of Jordan
Which for its breadth Mr. Maundrell, the above mentioned traveller, says F3 might be about twenty yards over, and its depth exceeded his height; but Dr. Shaw F4, a later traveller still, says,

``the river Jordan is by far the most considerable river, excepting the Nile, either of the coast of Syria, or of Barbary. I computed it to be about thirty yards broad, but the depth I could not measure, except at the brink, where I found it to be three yards.''

Now in the midst of this river the priests bearing the ark stood firm on dry ground, the waters above being stopped and those below cut off. This perhaps might give rise to the fables among the Heathens of the river Scamander being swelled for the destruction of Achilles, and dried up by Vulcan, of which Homer F5 makes mention; and of the river Inachus, dried up by Neptune, as the Grecians fable; however, if Heathens can credit these accounts, surely we Christians ought to believe this, attested by divine revelation. And this may denote the presence of Christ with his people in afflictions, who will not suffer those waters to overflow them, and in death itself, when the swellings of Jordan shall not come near them to distress them; and when the covenant of grace will appear firm and sure, and be their great support; and when also the feet of the ministers of Christ stand firm, and their faith fails not; which is of great use, and very encouraging to the spiritual Israel of God:

and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground;
the waters being divided to a space large enough for such a body of people to pass over, and which continued

until all the people were clean passed over Jordan;
perfectly and completely, not one being left behind, or lost in the passage through it; in the midst of which the priests stood until all were passed over. So the spiritual Israel of God must all go over Jordan's river, or must all go through the valley of the shadow of death; and they will all go over safe to Canaan's land, to the heavenly glory; their souls go immediately to heaven at death, and their bodies will be raised at the last day, and be reunited to them, and partake of happiness with them; nor will anyone of them be lost; they all clean pass over, and arrive safe; for they are the chosen of God, the care and charge of Christ, the purchase of his blood, partake of his grace, and have the earnest of his Spirit.


FOOTNOTES:

F3 Maundrell, Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 83.
F4 Travels, p. 346.
F5 Iliad. 21.
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