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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 3

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-17

The Passage of Jordan

This is the initial miracle of Joshua’s leadership. Its moral effect upon the Israelite host is suggested in Joshua 3:7 and Joshua 4:14 that wrought upon the Canaanites in Joshua 5:1 (which properly belongs to this section of the book).

3. The ark of the covenant of the Lord your God] see Exodus 25:10-22 and Exodus 37:1-9. It was the authoritative symbol of the Divine Presence (cp. Exodus 23:20.), and as such led the van in the desert marches (Numbers 10:33-36). The priests the Levites] cp. Deuteronomy 18:1. Not that all the Levites were originally priests, as some have interpreted that passage: see e.g. Numbers 3:5-10 for the relation of the Levites in general to the ’sons of Aaron.’

4. Two thousand cubits] 3,000 ft.; the ancient Hebrew cubit = 18 in.

15. Jordan overfloweth all his banks] The rank jungle, which fills the bed (150 ft. deep) that Jordan has hollowed out at the bottom of the rift, down which it flows, marks the extent of the April floods. The space is from 200 yards to 1 m. broad, and is what Jeremiah calls (Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44) the ’Pride’ or ’Swelling’ of Jordan. In Sirach 24:26 we find a proverbial phrase, ’full as.. Jordan in the time of harvest’ (RV).

16. We should probably render ’a great way off, at the city Adam, which is beside Zaretan.’ The incident of the stoppage of Jordan’s waters is not without parallel in history, if we may trust the Arabic historian Nowairi (see Sayce, ’Early Hist of Hebr.,’ p. 249). According to his account the water was dammed up by a landslip from midnight on DeJoshua 8, 1267, ’till the 4th hour of the day.’ The narrative is very artless, and whether it be true or simply an echo of the book of Joshua, enables us to conceive how the miracle of the crossing may have happened; for miracle it still remains, even if wrought out at the will of the author of nature by natural means: being a clear exhibition of personal providential purpose in connexion with the great plan of Israel’s mission to the world. The position of Adam has been identified with Tel Damieh (a place mentioned, curiously, in Nowairi’s narrative), near the mouth of the Jabbok. Zaretan may probably be the ’Zarthan’ of 1 Kings 7:46.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/joshua-3.html. 1909.
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