Joshua 3

Israel Crosses the Jordan

1Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan.
Heb “And Joshua arose early in the morning and he and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan.”
They camped there before crossing the river.
The words “the river,” though not in the Hebrew text, have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
2After three days the leaders went through the camp 3and commanded the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God
The ark of the covenant refers to the wooden chest that symbolized God’s presence among his covenant people.
being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here
Heb “set out from your place.”
and walk
Or “march.”
behind it.
4But stay about three thousand feet behind it.
Heb “But there should be a distance between you and it, about two thousand cubits in measurement.”
The precise distance is uncertain, but the measurement designated אַמָּה (’ammah, “cubit”) was probably equivalent to approximately eighteen inches (one and one-half feet, or 45 cm) in length.
Keep your distance
Heb “do not approach it.”
so you can see
Heb “know.”
which way you should go, for you have not traveled this way before.”

5 Joshua told the people, “Ritually consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform miraculous deeds among you.” 6Joshua told the priests, “Pick up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they picked up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

7 The Lord told Joshua, “This very day I will begin to honor you before all Israel
Or more literally, “to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel.”
so they will know that I am with you just as I was with Moses.
8Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, ‘When you reach the bank of the Jordan River,
Heb “the edge of the waters of the Jordan.” The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied for clarity.
wade into the water.’”
Heb “stand in the Jordan.” Here the repetition of the word “Jordan” would be redundant according to contemporary English style, so it was not included in the translation.

9 Joshua told the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God!” 10Joshua continued,
Heb “said.”
“This is how you will know the living God is among you and that he will truly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites.
11Look! The ark of the covenant of the Ruler
Or “Lord”; or “Master.”
of the whole earth is ready to enter the Jordan ahead of you.
12Now select for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13When the feet
Heb “the soles of the feet.”
of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Ruler
Or “Lord”; or “Master.”
of the whole earth, touch
Or “rest in.”
the water of the Jordan, the water coming downstream toward you will stop flowing and pile up.”
Heb “the waters of the Jordan, the waters descending from above, will be cut off so that they will stand in one pile.”

14 So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went
The verb, though not in the Hebrew, is added for clarification.
ahead of them.
15When the ones carrying the ark reached the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the surface
Heb “dipped into the edge.”
of the water – (the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest time)
Heb “and the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest.”
The lengthy description of the priests’ arrival at the Jordan and the parenthetical reminder that the Jordan was at flood stage delay the climax of the story and add to its dramatic buildup.
16the water coming downstream toward them stopped flowing.
Heb “the waters descending from above stood still.”
It piled up far upstream
Heb “they stood in one pile very far away.”
at Adam (the city near Zarethan); there was no water at all flowing to the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea).
Heb “the [waters] descending toward the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) were completely cut off.”
The Salt Sea is an ancient name for the Dead Sea.
The people crossed the river opposite Jericho.
For the location of Jericho see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1.
17The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan. All Israel crossed over on dry ground until the entire nation was on the other side.
Heb “and all Israel was crossing over on dry ground until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”

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