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Joshua Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Joshua 3:1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

Joshua 3:2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;

Joshua 3:3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

Joshua 3:4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

two thousand cubits. This was a distance of more than half a mile, enabling everyone in the camp to see the ark, and also stressing its sacred character; it was normally kept inside the holy place, where none could see it at all.

Joshua 3:5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.

Joshua 3:6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

Joshua 3:7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

Joshua 3:8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

Joshua 3:9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.

Joshua 3:10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

Joshua 3:11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.

Joshua 3:12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

Joshua 3:13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Joshua 3:14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

Joshua 3:15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

Joshua 3:16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

upon an heap. A quasi-naturalistic explanation of this miracle suggests a providentially timed upstream landslide damming the waters of the Jordan at just the right time, similar to events which have actually occurred on the river several times in the past. On the other hand, the miracle at Jordan is compared to the miracle at the Red Sea (Joshua 4:23). This would suggest that it was also a true miracle of creation, involving the supernatural stabilizing of a wall of water until the crossing was completed.

from the city Adam. The towns of Adam and Zaretan were near the confluence of the rivers Jabbok and Jordan, some fifteen miles north of the Dead Sea. This long stretch of dry river bed provided ample room for the Israelites to cross over Jordan. This verse should be understood in the sense “an heap very far away, at the city Adam.”

Joshua 3:17 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.

passed clean over Jordan. In addition to this occasion, the Jordan was later stopped on two other occasions. See 2 Kings 2:8, 14. Only a small passageway was needed on these occasions for Elijah and Elisha to cross, but these also required God's miraculous intervention.