3:1 Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing the river. 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 being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here and walk behind it. 3:4 But stay about three thousand feet behind it. Keep your distance so you can see 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 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, wade into the water.’”
3:9 Joshua told the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God!” 3:10 Joshua continued, “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 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 of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Ruler of the whole earth, touch the water of the Jordan, the water coming downstream toward you will stop flowing and pile up.”
3:14 So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went 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 of the water – (the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest time) – 3:16 the water coming downstream toward them stopped flowing. It piled up far upstream at Adam (the city near Zarethan); there was no water at all flowing to the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea). The people crossed the river opposite Jericho. 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.
4:1 When the entire nation was on the other side, 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 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 will be a reminder to you. When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ 4:7 tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing. 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 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. 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 marched past the Lord to fight on the plains of Jericho. 4:14 That day the Lord brought honor to Joshua before all Israel. They respected him all his life, just as they had respected Moses.
4:15 The Lord told Joshua, 4:16 “Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenantal laws 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, the water of the Jordan flowed again and returned to flood stage.
4:19 The people went up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and camped in Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 4:20 Now Joshua set up in Gilgal the 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?’ 4:22 explain to your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan River 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. 4:24 He has done this so all the nations of the earth might recognize the Lord’s power and so you might always obey the Lord your God.”