Joshua 3 Commentary

 


LAND ALLOTMENTS

Click charts to enlarge Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

JOSHUA
A BOOK ON SPIRITUAL WARFARE and REST
HOW TO POSSESS YOUR POSSESSIONS

CONQUEST
OF THE PROMISED LAND

DIVISION
OF THE PROMISED LAND

CLOSE OF JOSHUA'S LIFE

ACTION ALLOCATION APPEAL
Josh 1:1-5:15 Josh 6:1-12:24 Joshua 13:1-21:45 Josh 22:1-24:33

WARLORDS IN
CANAAN

LANDLORDS IN
CANAAN

ENTERING
CANAAN

CONQUERING
CANAAN

DIVIDING
CANAAN

SECURING THE
LAND

SETTLING THE
LAND

Preparation

Conquest

Possession

Consecration

ca. 1 Month ca 7 Years ca. 18 Years

See also more detailed Chart by Charles R Swindoll

Joshua 3:1  Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed.

  • rose early (KJV): Archbishop Usher supposes, that this was upon Wednesday, the 28th of April, A.M. 2553, the fortieth year of the Exodus from Egypt.  From Shittim, where the israelites had been encamped for about two months (De 1:3), to the Jordan, was, according to Josephus, about sixty stadia; that is, between seven and eight English miles. Ge 22:3 Ps 119:60 Jer 7:13 25:3 26:5 Mk 1:35 
  • Shittim (KJV): Jos 2:1 Nu 25:1 Mic 6:5 
  • Jordan (KJV): Jordan, called by the Arabs El Sharia, takes its rise in Anti-Libanus, about twelve miles north of Cesarea Philippi, now Banias; and, having run about twelve miles southward, it receives a considerable stream, which is now called the Moiet Hasbeia.  About 15 miles farther, it forms the waters of Merom or Semechon, now Houle; and, after running about 28 miles more, it passes through the lake of Gennesareth, and thence runs southward till it loses itself in the Dead Sea; its whole course being about 160 miles.

Early in the morning seems to be the best time for a lot of God’s people.

Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed.

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary - Verses 1-6. The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place. The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer's feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also. They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God's love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.  

Joshua 3:2  At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp;

  • Scripture beyond the literal, conveying an ominous sense of expectation (cf. Gen. 22:4; 42:17; Ex. 19:11; Ezra 8:15, 32, 33; Neh. 2:11; Jon. 1:17; Matt. 12:40). A period of either three days or three years (2 Sam. 21:1; 1 Kin. 18:1) is often associated in Scripture with a transition from retribution to restoration.

 At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp;

Believer's Study Bible - The three days of waiting may have a significance in Scripture beyond the literal, conveying an ominous sense of expectation (cf. Gen. 22:4; 42:17; Ex. 19:11; Ezra 8:15, 32, 33; Neh. 2:11; Jon. 1:17; Matt. 12:40). A period of either three days or three years (2 Sam. 21:1; 1 Kin. 18:1) is often associated in Scripture with a transition from retribution to restoration.

Joshua 3:3  and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.

  • Nu 10:33 
  • When ye see (KJV): Jos 3:11 
  • the priests (KJV): Jos 3:6,8,14-17 4:10 6:6 Nu 4:15 De 31:9,25 2Sa 6:3,13 1Ch 15:11 1Ch 15:12 
  • ye shall remove (KJV): Ex 13:21,22 Mt 8:19 16:24 Rev 14:4 

The ark of the covenant is the focal point in this whole chapter

and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Normally the Kohathites carried the ark, but on this extraordinary occasion the Levites who were priests carried it (as also in 6:6; 1 Kings 8:3-6). 

Believer's Study Bible - The ark, referred to 17 times in chs. 3; 4, represents the presence and covenant of the Lord, the basis for these events (cf. Ex. 33:16; Num. 10:33ff.). The position of the ark throughout the crossing would have been a visual lesson to Israel of the necessity of following and relying upon the Lord (note vv. 9, 10).

Joshua 3:4  "However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."

  • a space (KJV): Ex 3:5 19:12 Ps 89:7 Heb 12:28,29 
  • heretofore (KJV): Heb. since yesterday and the third day, Ge 31:2 Ex 4:10 1Ch 11:2 Isa 30:33 *marg:

However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before

Joshua 3:5  Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."

  • Sanctify (KJV): Jos 7:13 Ex 19:10-15 Lev 10:3 20:7 Nu 11:8 1Sa 16:5 Job 1:5 Joe 2:16 Joh 17:19 
  • the Lord (KJV): Jos 3:13,15 Ps 86:10 114:1-7 

Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you

Joshua 3:6  And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

  • Take up (KJV): Jos 3:3 Nu 14:15 10:33 Mic 2:13  Joh 14:2,3 Heb 6:20 

And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, "Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people." So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

Joshua 3:7  Now the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.

  • magnify thee (KJV): Jos 4:14 1Ch 29:25 2Ch 1:1 Job 7:17 Ps 18:35 Joh 17:1 Php 1:20 Php 2:9-11 
  • as I was (KJV): Jos 1:5,17 

Now the LORD said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.

 

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary - Verses 7-13. The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. This must be done in such a way as never was done, but in the dividing of the Red sea. That miracle is here repeated; God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, as to begin it; the WORD of the Lord was as truly with Joshua as with Moses. God's appearances for his people ought to encourage faith and hope. God's work is perfect, he will keep his people. Jordan's flood cannot keep out Israel, Canaan's force cannot turn them out again. 

Joshua 3:8  "You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, 'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'"

  • command (KJV): Jos 3:3 1Ch 15:11,12 2Ch 17:8,9 29:4-11,15,27,30 30:12 31:9,10 2Ch 35:2-6 Ne 12:24-28 13:22,28 
  • ye shall stand (KJV): Jos 3:17 Ex 14:13 La 3:26

God allows us plenty of time to view the impossible before He does His work. Will you examine your heart before the Lord so that He might do a great work among us?

You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, 'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'"

Joshua 3:9  Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, "Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God."

  • Hear the words (KJV): De 4:1 12:8 

 Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, "Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God."

Joshua 3:10  Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite.

  • Hereby ye (KJV): Nu 15:28-30 1Ki 18:36,37 22:28 Ps 9:16 Isa 7:14 2Co 13:2,3 
  • living (KJV): De 5:26 1Sa 17:26 2Ki 19:4 Jer 10:10 Ho 1:10 Mt 16:16 Joh 6:69 1Th 1:9 Heb 10:31 
  • among (KJV): Jos 22:31 Ex 17:7 De 31:17 Jud 6:12,13 
  • drive out from (KJV): Jos 21:45 Ge 15:15-18 Ex 3:8 23:27-30 33:2 De 7:1 Ps 44:2,3 

God is the one who is going to take them in, drive out the enemies, and give them the land.

Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite.

Joshua 3:11  "Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan.

  • the Lord (KJV): Jos 3:13 Ps 24:1 Isa 54:5 Jer 10:7 Mic 4:13 Zep 2:11 Zec 4:14 6:5 Zec 14:9 
  • passeth (KJV): Jos 3:3-6 Isa 3:12 

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan.

Joshua 3:12  "Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe.

  • Jos 4:2,9 

Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe.

Believer's Study Bible - The significance of this verse is not explained until ch. 4. It is mentioned here, perhaps, to point out that the Twelve Tribes are displacing the seven nations (v. 10).

Joshua 3:13  "It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap."

  • the soles (KJV): Jos 3:15,16 Ex 14:19-22 
  • of the Lord (KJV): Jos 3:11 
  • stand upon (KJV): Jos 3:16 Ex 15:8 Ps 33:7 78:13 114:3-5 Hab 3:15

"It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap."

Joshua 3:14  So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people,

  • bearing the ark (KJV): Jos 3:3,6 6:6 De 31:26 Jer 3:16 Ac 7:44,45 1Co 1:24,25 Heb 9:4 

The people exercised faith when they broke camp and moved toward the river. The priests exercised faith when their feet got wet at the river’s edge. The Lord goes before us to open up the way

So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people,

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary - Verses 14-17. Jordan overflowed all its banks. This magnified the power of God, and his kindness to Israel. Although those who oppose the salvation of God's people have all advantages, yet God can and will conquer. This passage over Jordan, as an entrance to Canaan, after their long, weary wanderings in the wilderness, shadowed out the believer's passage through death to heaven, after he has finished his wanderings in this sinful world. Jesus, typified by the ark, hath gone before, and he crossed the river when it most flooded the country around. Let us treasure up experiences of His faithful and tender care, that they may help our faith and hope in the last conflict.

Joshua 3:15  and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest),

  • the feet (KJV): Jos 3:13 Isa 26:6 
  • Jordan overfloweth (KJV): The ordinary current of the Jordan, near where the Israelites crossed, is said by Maundrell, to be about twenty yards across, deeper than a man's height, and so rapid, that there is no swimming against it.  It has, however, two banks; the first, or inner one, is that of the river in its natural state, and the second, or outer one, about a furlong distant, is that of its overflowings, which it does when the summer's sun has melted the snow on mount Lebanon and Hermon, in the months of March and April.  And this was the time which God chose that the Israelites should pass over it; that a miraculous interposition might be necessary; and that, by the miracle, they might be convinced of his omnipotence. Jos 4:18 1Ch 12:15 Jer 12:5 49:19 
  • all the time (KJV): Jos 5:10-12 Lev 23:10-16 De 16:1-9 

and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest),

Joshua 3:16  the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.

  • rose up (KJV): Jos 3:13 Ps 29:10 77:19 114:3 Mt 8:26,27 14:24-33 
  • Zaretan (KJV): 1Ki 4:12, Zartanah, 1Ki 7:46, Zarthan
  • the salt sea (KJV): Jos 15:2 Ge 14:3 Nu 34:3 De 3:17 The passage through the Red Sea took place in the night, when the Israelites were fleeing from the Egyptians with great trepidation:  but they passed Jordan in the day-time, with previous warning, leisurely, directly opposite to Jericho, and with a triumphant defiance of the Canaanites; this passage into the promised land evidently typifying the believer's passage through death to heaven.

the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho.

Joshua 3:17  And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

  • the priests (KJV): Jos 3:3-6 
  • stood firm (KJV): Jos 4:3 2Ki 2:8 
  • all the Israelites (KJV): Ex 14:22,29 Ps 66:6 Isa 25:8 Heb 11:29 

Related Passages:

Exodus 14:29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

THOUGHT - Are you tired of wandering in the desert of Christian experience and longing for the spiritual sweetness of drawing upon an adequate Christ? Have you made that surrender and turned it all over to Him?

 

 

 

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