Joshua 3

Crossing the Jordan

1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.
2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp,
3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.
4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.
7 And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.
8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ”
9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.
10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.
11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.
12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.
13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.
15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,
16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
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.

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.

Cross References 42

  • 1. S Joshua 2:1
  • 2. S Genesis 13:10; Job 40:23
  • 3. S Genesis 40:13; Joshua 2:16
  • 4. S Deuteronomy 1:15
  • 5. Joshua 1:11
  • 6. S Numbers 10:33
  • 7. ver 8,17; Numbers 4:15; Deuteronomy 31:9; 1 Kings 8:3
  • 8. 1 Samuel 6:15
  • 9. Numbers 35:5
  • 10. S Exodus 29:1; S Leviticus 11:44; Exodus 19:10,14; Leviticus 20:7; Joshua 7:13; 1 Samuel 16:5; Joel 2:16
  • 11. Judges 6:13; 1 Chronicles 16:9,24; Psalms 26:7; Psalms 75:1
  • 12. Joshua 4:14; 1 Chronicles 29:25
  • 13. Joshua 1:5
  • 14. S ver 3
  • 15. Deuteronomy 5:26; 1 Samuel 17:26,36; 2 Kings 19:4,16; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 42:2; Psalms 84:2; Isaiah 37:4,17; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:26; Hosea 1:10; S Matthew 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 7:21
  • 17. S Genesis 26:34
  • 18. Joshua 17:15; Joshua 24:11; Judges 1:4; Judges 3:5
  • 19. S Exodus 3:8; S Exodus 23:23; S Deuteronomy 7:1">Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 11:3; Joshua 12:8; Judges 19:11; 1 Chronicles 11:4; Exodus 33:2; Deuteronomy 7:1">Deuteronomy 7:1
  • 20. ver 13; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Job 9:10; Job 28:24; Job 41:11; Psalms 50:12; Psalms 97:5; Zechariah 6:5
  • 21. S Deuteronomy 9:3
  • 22. Joshua 4:2,4
  • 23. S ver 11
  • 24. ver 16
  • 25. Joshua 4:7
  • 26. S Exodus 14:22; S Isaiah 11:15; Exodus 15:8; Psalms 78:13
  • 27. Psalms 132:8
  • 28. Acts 7:44-45
  • 29. 2 Kings 2:6
  • 30. Joshua 4:18; 1 Chronicles 12:15; Isaiah 8:7
  • 31. S Genesis 8:22
  • 32. Psalms 66:6; Psalms 74:15; Psalms 114:3
  • 33. Job 38:37; Psalms 33:7
  • 34. 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 7:46
  • 35. ver 13
  • 36. S Deuteronomy 1:1
  • 37. S Genesis 14:3
  • 38. S Genesis 8:1; S Exodus 14:22
  • 39. 2 Kings 2:4
  • 40. S ver 3
  • 41. Jos 4:3,5,8,9,10
  • 42. S Exodus 14:22; S Joshua 2:10; Exodus 14:22,29

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters

Chapter Summary


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

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