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Joshua 3:1--4:24

Context
Israel Crosses the Jordan

3:1 Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan. 1  They camped there before crossing the river. 2  3:2 After three days the leaders went through the camp 3:3 and commanded the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God 3  being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here 4  and walk 5  behind it. 3:4 But stay about three thousand feet behind it. 6  Keep your distance 7  so you can see 8  which way you should go, for you have not traveled this way before.”

3:5 Joshua told the people, “Ritually consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform miraculous deeds among you.” 3:6 Joshua 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.

3:7 The Lord told Joshua, “This very day I will begin to honor you before all Israel 9  so they will know that I am with you just as I was with Moses. 3:8 Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, ‘When you reach the bank of the Jordan River, 10  wade into the water.’” 11 

3:9 Joshua told the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God!” 3:10 Joshua continued, 12  “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. 3:11 Look! The ark of the covenant of the Ruler 13  of the whole earth is ready to enter the Jordan ahead of you. 3:12 Now select for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 3:13 When the feet 14  of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Ruler 15  of the whole earth, touch 16  the water of the Jordan, the water coming downstream toward you will stop flowing and pile up.” 17 

3:14 So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went 18  ahead of them. 3:15 When the ones carrying the ark reached the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the surface 19  of the water – (the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest time) 20 3:16 the water coming downstream toward them stopped flowing. 21  It piled up far upstream 22  at Adam (the city near Zarethan); there was no water at all flowing to the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea). 23  The people crossed the river opposite Jericho. 24  3:17 The 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. 25 

Israel Commemorates the Crossing

4:1 When the entire nation was on the other side, 26  the Lord told Joshua, 4:2 “Select for yourselves twelve men from the people, one per tribe. 4:3 Instruct them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests 27  stand firmly, and carry them over with you and put them in the place where you camp tonight.’”

4:4 Joshua summoned the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one per tribe. 4:5 Joshua told them, “Go in front of the ark of the Lord your God to the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to put a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the Israelite tribes. 4:6 The stones 28  will be a reminder to you. 29  When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ 4:7 tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing 30  before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing. 31  These stones will be a lasting memorial for the Israelites.”

4:8 The Israelites did just as Joshua commanded. They picked up twelve stones, according to the number of the Israelite tribes, from the middle of the Jordan as the Lord had instructed Joshua. They carried them over with them to the camp and put them there. 4:9 Joshua also set up twelve stones 32  in the middle of the Jordan in the very place where the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood. They remain there to this very day.

4:10 Now the priests carrying the ark of the covenant were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people was accomplished, in accordance with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people went across quickly, 4:11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed as the people looked on. 33  4:12 The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed for battle ahead of the Israelites, just as Moses had instructed them. 4:13 About forty thousand battle-ready troops 34  marched past the Lord to fight 35  on the plains of Jericho. 36  4:14 That day the Lord brought honor to Joshua before all Israel. They respected 37  him all his life, 38  just as they had respected 39  Moses.

4:15 The Lord told Joshua, 4:16 “Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenantal laws 40  to come up from the Jordan.” 4:17 So Joshua instructed the priests, “Come up from the Jordan!” 4:18 The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and as soon as they set foot on dry land, 41  the water of the Jordan flowed again and returned to flood stage. 42 

4:19 The people went up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month 43  and camped in Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 44  4:20 Now Joshua set up in Gilgal the 45  twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 4:21 He told the Israelites, “When your children someday ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones represent?’ 46  4:22 explain 47  to your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan River 48  on dry ground.’ 4:23 For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you while you crossed over. It was just like when the Lord your God dried up the Red Sea before us while we crossed it. 49  4:24 He has done this so 50  all the nations 51  of the earth might recognize the Lord’s power 52  and so you might always obey 53  the Lord your God.”

1 tn Heb “And Joshua arose early in the morning and he and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan.”

2 tn The words “the river,” though not in the Hebrew text, have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

3 sn The ark of the covenant refers to the wooden chest that symbolized God’s presence among his covenant people.

4 tn Heb “set out from your place.”

5 tn Or “march.”

6 tn Heb “But there should be a distance between you and it, about two thousand cubits in measurement.”

sn 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.

7 tn Heb “do not approach it.”

8 tn Heb “know.”

9 tn Or more literally, “to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel.”

10 tn Heb “the edge of the waters of the Jordan.” The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied for clarity.

11 tn 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.

12 tn Heb “said.”

13 tn Or “Lord”; or “Master.”

14 tn Heb “the soles of the feet.”

15 tn Or “Lord”; or “Master.”

16 tn Or “rest in.”

17 tn Heb “the waters of the Jordan, the waters descending from above, will be cut off so that they will stand in one pile.”

18 tn The verb, though not in the Hebrew, is added for clarification.

19 tn Heb “dipped into the edge.”

20 tn Heb “and the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest.”

sn 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.

21 tn Heb “the waters descending from above stood still.”

22 tn Heb “they stood in one pile very far away.”

23 tn Heb “the [waters] descending toward the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) were completely cut off.”

sn The Salt Sea is an ancient name for the Dead Sea.

24 map For the location of Jericho see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

25 tn Heb “and all Israel was crossing over on dry ground until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”

26 tn Heb “And when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”

27 tn Heb “the feet of the priests.”

28 tn Heb “that this may be”; the referent of “this” (the twelve stones) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Heb “in order that this might be a sign among you.”

30 tn Heb “were cut off from before.”

31 tn Heb “how the waters descending from above stood still.”

32 tn Here “also” has been supplied in the translation to make it clear (as indicated by v. 20) that these are not the same stones the men took from the river bed.

33 tn Heb “in the presence of the people.”

34 tn Heb “men equipped for battle.”

35 tn Heb “for war.”

36 map For location see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

37 tn Heb “feared.”

38 tn Heb “all the days of his life.”

39 tn Heb “had feared.”

40 tn Traditionally, “the ark of the testimony,” another name for the ark of the covenant. The Hebrew term עֵדוּת (’edut, “testimony” or “witness”) here refers to the Mosaic covenant and the body of stipulations contained within it (see HALOT 2:791).

41 tn Heb “and the soles of the feet of the priests were brought up to the dry land.”

42 tn Heb “and the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and went as formerly over their banks.”

sn Verses 15-18 give a more detailed account of the priests’ crossing that had been briefly described in v. 11.

43 sn The first month was the month Abib (= late March-early April in the modern calendar). The Passover in Egypt also occurred on the tenth day of the first month (Exod 12:2; 13:4).

44 map For location see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

45 tn Heb “these,” referring specifically to the twelve stones mentioned in vv. 3-7.

46 tn Heb “What are these stones?”

47 tn Heb “make known.”

48 tn Heb “crossed this Jordan”; the word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied to clarify the meaning.

49 tn Heb “just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea when he dried [it] up before us while we crossed over.”

50 tn Heb “in order that.”

51 tn Or “peoples.”

52 tn Heb “know the hand of the Lord that it is strong.”

53 tn Heb “fear.”



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