- Early the next morning, Joshua moved with all the Israelites from Shittim to the Jordan, where they lodged before crossing over.
- Three days later the officers went through the camp
- and issued these instructions to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD, your God, which the levitical priests will carry, you must also break camp and follow it,
- that you may know the way to take, for you have not gone over this road before. But let there be a space of two thousand cubits between you and the ark. Do not come nearer to it."
- Joshua also said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will perform wonders among you."
- And he directed the priests to take up the ark of the covenant and go on ahead of the people; and they did so.
- Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
- Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant to come to a halt in the Jordan when they reach the edge of the waters."
- So Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God."
- He continued: "This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst, who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.
- The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth will precede you into the Jordan.
- (Now choose twelve men, one from each of the tribes of Israel.)
- When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD, the Lord of the whole earth, touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow; for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."
- The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan, with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
- 1 No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan, which overflows all its banks during the entire season of the harvest,
- 2 than the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed, from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan; while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah disappeared entirely. Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
- While all Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.
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Footnotes1 Season of the harvest: toward the end of March and the beginning of April, when the grain and other crops that grew during the rainy season of winter were reaped. The crossing took place "on the tenth day of the first month" of the Hebrew year, which began with the first new moon after the spring equinox; cf Joshua 4:19. At this time of the year the Jordan would be swollen as a result of the winter rains and the melting snow of Mount Hermon.
2 The sudden damming of the river could have been caused by a landslide, as has happened on other occasions. The miraculous character of this event would not thereby be removed because God, who foretold it (Joshua 3:13), also caused it to take place at precisely the right moment (Joshua 3:15), whether or not he used natural forces to accomplish his will.
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