From Captivity to Canaan
November 1, 2020
7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”
9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
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Joshua addresses the priests for the first time. His instructions initiate the movement of the ark of the covenant which will become the means by which God enables Israel to cross the Jordan and to acquire the land which he has for them. The verb pass on (Heb. ʿbr) again occurs, but it has to do with the passage of the priests before the people rather than with crossing the river. This positions the ark and the people so that all is ready for the actual crossing. Until this moment, the means by which that is to take place remains unclear.
Joshua has completed the preparations for entrance into the land. He has acted in accordance with his position as leader of the people and successor to Moses. However, the people’s continued acceptance of that leadership depends upon God’s revelation to Joshua concerning his next steps.
Notes from Point 1
Notes from Point 2
Notes from Point 3
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 Richard S. Hess, Joshua: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 6, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 110–111.